How to compete with the big four!

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“It’s all about member services and personal interaction.  With Microsoft Lync you don’t have to know everybody in the organization to give really good service.”  Rob Hale, CIO.


The Community Mutual Group (CMG) is the largest community credit union in Australia with a member base of about 70,000 who also have shareholder rights.  Integrating communication for 286 staff between 32 sites, spread over 300,000km2 was a challenge.  Three regional brands come under the Group’s umbrella with a national network of ATMs and EFTPOS terminals through mission-critical telephone and Internet banking, so personalized customer service takes a high priority.

IT Environment

CMG operated a legacy PBX and call centre at head office that took over 500 inbound calls per day.  With multiple ISDN lines from the other 31 sites all converged into the one system and disaster recovery systems at yet another site, maintenance was troublesome and complex while costs were needlessly high. Their existing video conferencing systems and Microsoft Office Communicator (OCS) could not be integrated into the PBX.  While agents used presence on OCS, voice system incompatibility meant having to dial back out which incurred unnecessary call costs and impaired productivity.  Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) automation was not appealing, since human interaction is the Group’s prime differentiator from the big four banks.  "Press 9 for reception" is not part of the Community Mutual Group edict. What’s more, business continuity and strict regulatory compliance was a critical issue in hosting their own DR infrastructure.  This proved to be too onerous in regional NSW, especially in attracting and retaining expert hosting and support staff.


Generation-e assessed the situation and in close consultation with the IT team, replaced the old voice system with Microsoft Lync and a Zeacom contact centre solution, to seamlessly integrate with their existing platforms and to realize the large investment in their 80+ video conferencing units.  They demonstrated that Lync was significantly lower cost than other alternatives that typically require the purchase of expensive hardware.

To start with, Generation-e upgraded their Microsoft Exchange email platform to 2010 which activated the global contact list in Outlook 2010 populating staff email with their own photo. To ensure business continuity the existing OCS client remained operational while Generation-e pre-staged Lync and gradually deployed it to all 32 locations in the vast region.  Thanks to the controlled rollout and end-user awareness training, Lync uptake was rapidly at 100%. Finally the migration to the Zeacom contact centre was implemented in just one weekend, as part of an office makeover surprise for the agents returning to work on Monday!

With all voice clients now on virtual infrastructure in the primary data centre, the secondary data centre in Sydney that hosted their core systems, provides CMG with a redundancy architecture whose high availability provides not just yesterday’s back up, but a complete mirrored environment.

Through its close partnering with Telstra, Generation-e moved the old IVR and ISDN lines to SIP Connect in support of mission-critical 24×7 telephone banking.  This consolidation saved money and improved redundancy dramatically.

Business Impact

More than just a dial tone, the Lync/Zeacom solution provided by Generation-e has elevated the technology group to being a driving force in strategic planning, freeing them up to focus on business growth.  The hand-in-hand convergence of technology and marketing means they can deliver exceptional member service.  They can now use voice, web, Skype, video or web chat to provide their community the unique experience of human interaction.

Key benefits of the solution are:

  • Improved staff engagement and cohesion- photos in emails and Lync help remote staff feel they are part of one company
  • Achieved RoI- Lync has realized their investment in legacy VC equipment with seamless integration, reducing call costs
  • Total Cost of Ownership in under 1 year
  • Strong brand values- inbound member calls are automatically queued to the right regional brand by area code identification, providing locally flavoured customer service
  • Better service with Lync "skills search" feature- through integration with SharePoint, calls can be routed to the right product expert
  • Better business continuity- world-class disaster recovery means time to failover return to service was reduced from 2 hours to 2 minutes
  • Contact centre provides visibility with powerful call reporting
  • Improved contact centre performance- Zeacom queues all calls, emails, and faxes seamlessly, so agents are better prepared for inbound calls
  • Improved customer service metrics- less abandoned calls, better average call response times 
  • Improved agent training- supervisors can use IM to send hints, conferencing to monitor outbound calls, while the "record & evaluate" feature provides a panic button for new agents to get help
  • Better OH&S- agents enjoy more desk space with less cumbersome wires by moving to headsets and better call visibility by moving to large computer screens

As the NBN rolls out to regional areas, the Group will incorporate video kiosks at branches, so that members can book private meeting rooms with specialists who might be thousands of miles away.  For the members and staff of CMG unified communication has changed the face of finance through personalized real-time communication.