Voice over Internet Protocol (better known as VoIP) is an exciting new technology gaining recognition among several leading credit unions due in large to the promise of enhanced voice communication services and reduced communication expenses. This ‘converged technology’ offers a variety of benefits to an organization but the impact is realized in different ways depending in part on the institution’s size and factors related to the credit union’s branch network. To best understand how VoIP can benefit diverse organizations, we talked to two credit unions of very different size who have adopted a VoIP strategy.
Ball State Federal Credit Union (IN, $73M, 2 branches)
According to Suellyn Disinger, Ball State’s network IT manager, the credit union decided to upgrade to a VoIP solution when their traditional PBX phone system’s contract was about to expire. “Our provider offered us different VoIP ‘packages’ so we were able to choose the one that would best fulfill our requirements,” Disinger said. Ball State decided to purchase all of the equipment for their new VoIP system but still outsource full-support to their service provider. This means that the credit union is not responsible for user account configuration, system maintenance/upgrades, or routine monitoring of the converged data and voice network traffic.
Disinger and her team worked closely with their provider’s staff for 4 months to ensure that whole system install and cut-over would be smooth.
While Ball State has been able to recognize cost savings from reduced communication expenses, they have primarily benefited from productivity enhancing features giving greater communication flexibility. Examples include integration of their voice, e-mail, and fax systems allowing for the ability to send voicemail messages via e-mails or attach to CRM profiles in their system. In addition, each branch phone network is connected meaning all staff are just an extension away and members may be transferred throughout the credit union with ease.
Educational Employees Credit Union (CA, $1.2B, 11 branches)
Educational Employees Credit Union made the move to VoIP during a major data network upgrade. They realized the opportunity to not only take advantage of the additional savings and features of VoIP, but also provide the framework to better support their future branching initiatives. According to Tom Gemetti, EECU’s vice president of information services, their previous Centrex system “was expensive with growth” compared to their new VoIP system which gave them “affordable scalability.” VoIP offers a number of benefits to new branch installations including lower hardware costs and shorter system installation time.
In addition, since support of their roughly 400 employees at 11 locations is done from a central location there is a considerable time savings for EECU’s IT staff. Moving, Adding, and Changing (MAC) extensions is no longer done in a wiring closet at each branch, but can be done entirely from the administrator’s desktop PC.
VoIP Benefits - Advantages of Scale
Both credit unions are using VoIP to increase staff productivity, reduce overhead expenses, and better serve their members. Credit unions of all sizes can realize benefits when utilizing a VoIP solution in their organization, though these gains tend to be magnified with larger organizations. Typically the larger an organization is the greater the annual cost savings from eliminating long distance charges between branches, automatically routing outbound calls through the branch closest to the destination, and administrative productivity gains when performing necessary phone/extension MAC requests. It is also common to see more advanced VoIP features implemented among larger credit unions. For example, EECU has plans to implement an enhanced conferencing solution, web collaboration, live website chat integration, intelligent message routing, and ‘Screen Pops’ allowing staff to instantly view member account info even before a call in answered.
More information is available on VoIP in the market update, VoIP: Redefining Communication Strategies.