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Supporting a Leading Financial Services Firm’s Transition to Unified Communications

Financial Services | Network Infrastructure Services, Managed Services Offering

TEKsystems provided a leading financial services firm with a managed services solution to execute a companywide transformation to Unified Communications.

The client is a leading financial services firm that serves millions of consumers and some of the world’s largest companies with a range of products, including commercial and consumer banking and lending, investment management and credit card services. The client has worked with TEKsystems since 1997.

While companies grow and diversify, they must still present a unified voice to their customers. This requires employees from different departments and locations to work cross-functionally and with the same customer data profile. Traditional landline-based phone systems present significant obstacles to employee collaboration and data sharing, and can hinder smooth customer service. Many companies are beginning to meet this challenge by converting to Unified Communications (UC) systems. In a UC platform, all types of communication, including phone calls, Web interactions and emails, blend together to allow employees across multiple sites to deliver a seamless customer service experience and track customer conversations.

In addition, UC allows companies to reap operational efficiencies. Capacity-based call routing through a centralized system helps companies better utilize personnel time and infrastructure, eliminating downtime for both. It also permits enhanced data collection on call interactions and outcomes, helping analysts create better work processes such as speedier complaint resolution. Finally, for organizations with multiple product lines, UC presents an enormous opportunity to drive both customer satisfaction and sales.

Unifying communications allows customers to avoid the hassle of transferring between multiple representatives and repeating information. And perhaps more importantly, it enables agents to cross-promote other product lines. An agent able to see a holistic interaction history and customer profile can offer other products, e.g., recommending homeowner’s insurance to someone calling about their home mortgage application.

Avaya Communication Manager

The client, a leading financial services firm, had two pressing reasons to upgrade its traditional PBX system to a UC system. The firm had experienced rapid growth from a series of recent mergers and acquisitions and consequently had a highly dispersed employee base. Sixty-thousand call center agents worked at hundreds of centers serving different product lines ranging from auto insurance to wealth management. The agents relied on several disparate legacy systems to handle customer communications, producing fragmented customer profiles and interaction histories.

While these issues contributed to a challenging customer service environment, pending federal regulations posed a bigger problem. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) had set hard deadlines for enhanced transparency into fair lending and other practices. The new rules were set to mandate reporting across all product lines through one point of entry—a task that would be impossible with the client’s dispersed systems. To avoid penalties, the client needed to upgrade its communications system quickly.

To facilitate the transformation and improve efficiency, the client’s technical services team decided to move 60,000 service agents from hundreds of centers to nine serving sites. They chose to upgrade to an Avaya IP-based UC system that would allow the agents to communicate with customers and collaborate with each other. The system would also allow centralized reporting for all transactions, which would provide the visibility the OCC demanded. The large transformation would touch all product lines, multiple sites over the United States and the United Kingdom, and involve a large number of stakeholders and decision makers.

The client began the process by engaging a vendor to provide skilled UC engineers to manage the product implementation. However, the project experienced significant delays when their vendor was not able to secure all the high-end engineering skill sets needed—and the problems did not end there. The contracted engineers took a long time to become productive as they navigated the background check process, gained system access, received training and cleared other administrative hurdles.

Even after completing the lengthy onboarding process, the UC engineering resources’ time was not being effectively utilized. Managers of the client’s four departments supervising the project struggled to understand how the engineers’ time was spent, project progress and budget burndown, ultimately creating significant downtime for the resources. Furthermore, the vendor was slow to process change requests, which caused more inefficiencies and delays for the client.

The client decided to open a bidding process to other vendors to provide the UC engineers needed for the system upgrade. Based on the strong relationship TEKsystems had providing highly skilled IT workers to the firm as well as our deep UC experience, the client encouraged us to write a proposal for a higher-touch service beyond staff augmentation. After a highly competitive bidding process, we were selected because of our ability to provide the right resources and value through better management.

TEKsystems proposed a managed services solution in which we would provide skilled resources and an on-site delivery manager (DM) to manage the resources’ time and onboarding.

Leveraging our vast network of over 100 U.S. locations, we would source local candidates for each of the five client sites. To speed the resources’ time-to-productivity, the DM would document requirements and create an onboarding checklist with everything needed to start working, including background check activities, systems access and training requirements.

The DM would work closely with the client’s team and serve as their main point of contact throughout the engagement. In order to provide transparency into how the resources were being used, the DM would report weekly on time use, budget burndown and available capacity. The DM would also employ careful tracking of activities to provide ongoing analysis and process improvements.

Within a six-week period, we hired and onboarded 20 engineers with specific experience in call centers, toll-free, voice hardware, integration, data networking, network routing and more. These engineers helped implement a companywide UC upgrade, including migrating data from legacy systems, routing call flows, and integrating the hardware and software. The final 17,000 call center resources successfully transitioned from several legacy communications platforms to the new UC system.

Our “work smarter” approach helped the client fully use resources while reducing their budget spend. The DM provided detailed weekly updates on personnel utilization and available capacity, which helped the client’s leaders from multiple departments better understand the progress. It also provided insight into how long project tasks would take, which allowed for better use of the available personnel capacity. For instance, the tracking revealed that a highly skilled engineer was working mainly on project coordination activities, which allowed us to replace the worker with a lower-skilled resource to save money for the client. By providing detailed financial and project analysis, we enabled the client to extend most of the resources’ time on the job for two months without going over budget.

As a complimentary service, we drew on our years of experience implementing both UC upgrades and performing large-scale data migrations to develop a process roadmap, provision guides and an architecture design document for the project. We also provided suggestions on how to optimize the value of the new UC capabilities.

The client’s team appreciated our mature processes and expressed interest in adopting our tracking methods to plan future projects and manage their internal team. They have already begun using our onboarding checklist for new hires.

As a result, the project was completed within an aggressive deadline and budget. With voice recognition commands, complete interaction histories and advanced collaboration tools, the new UC system provides a superior customer experience. Pleased with our process and results, the client extended our contract for another year to continue the migration and assist in system upgrades.

  • Organizational maturity. We have a long history of providing managed services for clients and have reaped the benefit of seeing what works and what does not. In addition, we strongly believe in documenting and using best practices. As a result, our thoroughly tested processes allow us to make the most of our personnel and the client’s time. This maturity not only allowed the engagement to proceed smoothly, but also helped the client’s team better understand how to manage future projects and onboard new personnel.
  • Subject matter expertise. Our team has deep experience executing UC upgrades and large-scale data migrations. We also have specific experience in the financial services sector and understand the business drivers, regulatory environment and other factors unique to the industry. We drew from this experience to advise the client on the migration process and to suggest enhancements for using the UC technology.
  • Accountability. A successful managed services solution depends on communication and trust between client and vendor. Providing a high degree of transparency into our resources’ activities allowed the client to better use their time and make project adjustments along the way. In addition, we were quick to process change requests and provided flexibility in ramping our team up or down as needed.