Texas Christian University

How a Top-Ranked University Uses RingCentral to Enable Staff Mobility, Enhance Student Communications, and Improve Campus Safety
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By letting our staff take and make calls on their personal cell phones using their work phone numbers, RingCentral has done something amazing for TCU. It’s allowed us to be more accessible to colleagues and students, while enabling our staff to keep their work and personal lives separate.

Travis Cook

Executive Director of Telecommunications

One of the highest-ranking universities in the United States

Few universities in the country can claim as many accolades, across such a wide range of criteria, as Texas Christian University. Although the private college’s student population is relatively small at 10,000, each year the school has an outsize impact on best-of lists by the most respected publications.
Princeton Review has named TCU #5 on its “Best Run Colleges” in the country. Year after year, The Economist ranks TCU’s MBA faculty #1 in the world. And the school-analysis service Niche.com lists TCU among the “Best Colleges in Texas” for criminal justice, nursing, psychology, education, and athletics.
But with a decades-old telephony infrastructure that wasn’t winning any awards with faculty or staff, TCU’s leadership decided it was time to upgrade the university to a more modern, mobile cloud-communications solution.
Fort Worth, TX

From a phone system that limited options, to one that’s opening doors

Joshua Tooley, TCU’s Director of IT Support, explains that the university’s on-prem phone system worked—technically speaking. But the system’s many limitations meant TCU’s various teams and departments had to limit their own workflows and processes. “If a snow day forced us to shut down the campus and staff offices, communicating that day using our TCU phone numbers became more or less impossible,” Joshua says.
“If our faculty and staff weren’t able to come to campus, all my team could offer was to forward calls to their personal phones,” explains Travis Cook, Executive Director of Telecom for TCU. “But those would just be blind transfers coming from our PBX. Our staff couldn’t see who the caller was. And if they wanted to return the call, they’d have to expose their personal number.”
When they migrated faculty and staff to the cloud-based RingCentral—which allows users to take and make business calls through a RingCentral app on any device—TCU’s IT team put those limitations to an end. And with the COVID lockdowns about to take effect, giving TCU’s staff added mobility and flexibility was about to prove invaluable.

From a staff tied to desk phones, to a remote-ready university

As Joshua notes, the lockdowns went into effect while TCU was in the process of implementing RingCentral. “Because we hadn’t rolled out RingCentral to everybody when the quarantines started, that experience showed the contrast between the two systems,” he says.
“For the departments that didn’t have RingCentral yet, their transition to remote work was more difficult. Travis had to forward calls through the old system, and those employees couldn’t dial out from their TCU numbers—at least not until we set up their RingCentral accounts.”
In contrast, Joshua explains, the RingCentral-ready faculty and staff had no problem communicating and collaborating from home just as if they were still on campus.
For the departments that had RingCentral when the lockdowns started, their staff could take and make TCU calls on their mobile phones. They could even go into the system and make changes, like setting the app not to ring after hours, or updating their voicemail. RingCentral made their transition to remote work very smooth.

Joshua Tooley

Director of IT Support

Improving workflows with integrated SMS texting

Nor are phone calls the only way TCU’s staff had leveraged the RingCentral cloud platform to improve its communications. Joshua describes a couple of interesting ways the university is using RingCentral’s integrated SMS capability.
“Our TCU Athletics External Ticket Sales Office was about to run a new sales campaign, and they were ready to pay thousands of dollars on an SMS texting platform to send out messages to prospective ticket buyers. We met with them and explained RingCentral already has this capability built-in, and they now had a tool that they could consider using.”
Joshua also points out that for the first time, the TCU faculty is now able to communicate with students via SMS text—without giving out their personal mobile numbers. “The SMS function is built right into the mobile app, so our faculty can just as easily use their work numbers to send reminders to their classes or answer students’ questions by text. It’s another way these tools are helping us enhance the student experience.”

Improving the customer-support with RingCentral Contact Center

In addition to the RingCentral app on its staff’s mobile phones, TCU had also deployed RingCentral Contact Center to improve efficiencies for its complex call-center operations.
As Joshua explains, the university has three distinct contact centers: an internal help desk for employee IT support, another team handling requests for help with classroom audio-visual issues, and a third group of agents answering customer calls at the Athletics Ticket Office.
“What’s been great about RingCentral Contact Center is that we can manage and monitor these different operations from a central portal, and I can even make modifications for the teams from my cell phone.”
Joshua adds: “Because our agents can log into RingCentral Contact Center from their laptops and mobile phones, we were able to spin up our IT help desk immediately when the lockdowns went into effect. And of course, that’s when our employees needed IT support more than ever. We were able to quickly add Contact Center licenses and take our help desk team from five active agents answering calls at any given time, to 30 or 40 agents. RingCentral made scaling so easy.”
RingCentral’s reporting gives us more visibility into our call-queue teams than we’ve ever had. We use data points such as percentage of calls answered, and average hold time, both to improve agent performance and to support requests for more resources.

Travis Cook

Executive Director of Telecommunications

Leveraging RingCentral and Genesis Systems to make the campus safer

While TCU’s long-term mission is educating tomorrow’s responsible citizens and ethical leaders, the university also recognizes its most immediate priority is to provide a secure campus environment. So, the IT team worked with RingCentral and its software-development partner Genesis Systems to do just that.
Travis worked with RingCentral and Genesis to implement the GenAlert solution—which helps TCU capture key details immediately when someone on campus calls 911. “Keeping everyone safe on campus is our most important objective on a day-to-day basis,” says Travis. “Being able to pinpoint a 911 caller’s location, and immediately dispatch the campus police, is helping us accomplish that mission.”
RingCentral has opened so many doors for our university in terms of flexibility, mobility, and the chances to create new processes that best serve each team and department. And with the way it helped us through COVID, RingCentral has shown us that our university will be ready to handle anything.

Joshua Tooley

Director of IT Support

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