Darach Beirne

According to research, 48% of organizations say their greatest hurdle in the marathon race to better collaboration is ineffective communication between team members. Moreover, 64% of workers report spending 30 minutes or more each day simply switching between software apps. That half an hour of lost productivity adds up to more than 130 hours annually.

We see this hurdle present in information sharing between credit union branches and departments. For example, branches may purchase onetransaction management program to track interactions with members looking to open a line of credit, while the collections department purchases a different management program to track delinquent payment plans. Running different software programs across departments raises a few challenges, including hindering information sharing,increasing costs, and straining customer support, collaboration and productivity.

One of the simplest ways to bridge silos begins with the tools in an organization’s technology stack. Credit unions are no different and rely on secure, real-time interactions to keep their operations running smoothly. More specifically, credit unions can overcome informationsilos with cloud-based communications services.

What are cloud-based communications services?

Cloud services istypically a broad term used to refer primarily to data-center-hosted services that are run and accessed over an internet-enabled infrastructure. With the evolution of VoIP (voice over internet protocol), voice calling has become part of the cloud phenomenon. Cloud communications services can be both internal (i.e., reaching teams in different locations) and external (i.e., customer support).

Cloud-based communications(also known as cloud telephony or hosted telecom) often refers to voice services. More specifically, it refers to the replacement of conventional business telephone equipment such as a PBX (private branch exchange) with a hosted VoIP system. A PBX tends to be more expensive and time-consuming to provision and maintain, so replacing it with hosted VoIP removes complexities for users. With hosted VoIP, users can place calls directly from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection and free themselves from the burden of buying and storing stand-alone hardware.

Cloud-based telecom also encompasses solutions such as texting. Credit unions, for example, can add text-enabled numbers via APIs (application programming interfaces). With these numbers, the collections department, for example, can text members reminders about their past due loans. Or a member service representative can text a new member about current promotions.

Central to VoIP systems are SIP (session initiation protocol) trunks. SIP trunks provision VoIP connectivity between an on-premises phone system and the public switched telephone network (PSTN). For instance, a credit union might have an existing PBX for phone service. SIP trunks provide phone service for an entire branch or several branch locations so they can make both internal and external calls.

What tools can help bridge silos?

Hosted telephony solutions and collaboration platforms that facilitate PSTN integrations both play a central role in overcoming communications silos.

Credit unions require a high level of security and additional features apart from just regular phone calls. That’s where VoIP comes in. With VoIP, departments can operate at max efficiency thanks to seamless integration across systems and features. Hosted solutions provide the ability to use one application for all a company’s communication needs – from chat, to email to virtual meetings and phone calls. Integrating communications in this way in turn increases productivity, simplifies workflows and increases profitability.

VoIP systems allow organizations to connect call data with other business tools, such as support ticket systems, chat and email, which keep conversation records centralized and teams connected. Some VoIP systems also allow users to query and download Call Detail Records (CDR) using an API. This functionality allows agents to review recent interactions using built-in call tracking without needing an external call log. Rather than having a limited or outdated view of account histories and member communications, service representatives can quickly access vital information to better serve credit union members.

Collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams (Teams)are another way to eliminate communications silos. Microsoft offers several calling options to facilitate seamless calling within solutions. By adding calling capabilities to Teams,credit unionscan simplify their tech stack without cutting back on the features they offer to their employees and members. Decision-makers can combine collaboration tools and access to global voice services in one application, which can positively impact Microsoft’s 250 million monthly active users.

Optimal efficiency is often a top priority for credit unions – but silos can seriously hinder this achievement. Cloud-based communications tools including modern telecom solutions can help credit unions link systems and processes, and connect in a cost-effective, efficient and secure way. By leveraging hosted telephony offerings, credit unions can strengthen internal collaboration and better serve members.

About the Author
Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. With more than 25 years of experience building and leading B2B customer success, Darach leads Flowroute’s dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Flowroute, Darach led professional service and sales engineering teams for providers such as Contenix, Huawei/3Leafsytems, InQuira, Siebel/Scopus, and Ingres. He also has assisted high-tech companies in developing strategies to improve the customer experience and increase scalability.

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