Open Universities Australia Makes Meaningful Connections to Students in Need with the Vonage Contact Center
Open Universities Australia, a marketplace for students and universities, uses Vonage Contact Center to provide educational guidance, support and resources to students across the country.
ChallengeReplace legacy on prem setup with a flexible, intelligent cloud-based contact center - as quickly as possible
SolutionVonage Contact Center, deeply integrated with Salesforce, and Conversation Analyzer
ResultsDoubled the number of outbound calls and conversion rates; native within Salesforce for a streamlined workflow; built a full cloud contact center within four weeks
Open Universities Australia (OUA) is a marketplace for students and universities to come together. The organization’s mission is to match students with the best possible university for what they want to study going forward, so communication is key. With a legacy contact center that was on-premises and inflexible, the OUA team was unable to make the kind of personal connections that really make a difference to students.
“With our legacy system, we had quite a few technical challenges over the years,” explains Lyndon Summers, Product Manager at OUA. “The on-premises solution was simply not flexible enough to do what we wanted to do, which was to call the right people at the right time, rather than just have a big list and start dialing like crazy. And we wanted something that could be integrated within our existing Salesforce CRM. So we went through a process to find the right solution for our specific needs.”
The right solution was Vonage Contact Center (VCC). Flexible, reliable, and native to Salesforce, VCC was just what OUA needed to not only meet its business communications needs now, but in the future.
“The Vonage Contact Center is native to Salesforce and allows our team to strategically build campaigns and connected experiences around the needs of our students,” notes Summers. “Connecting our agents to the right students, providing them with the right level of detail, at the right time, really helps to set students up for success - from reminders on when to re-enroll, to tips and instructions for new students. It’s quite complex work that we need to do, and Vonage gives us the ability to do it seamlessly.”
Supporting Students to Do Their Best Work
As a nonprofit organization, OUA is focused on three things: doing what’s best for students, continuously improving, and caring for each other. These core values shape the way the organization works in all aspects from interactions with customers to technology adoption.
“At Open Universities, our goal is to provide education to as many people as possible who wouldn't necessarily be able to access it through normal channels. So, for us it's very important that we provide a very strong and supportive omnichannel customer experience,” notes Summers.
Powered by Vonage, OUA offers students support through the enrollment process, and throughout their first 12 weeks of study. Through outbound campaigns, the organization tries to reach potential new students and identify the best programs available for them. Inbound channels and messaging support allow the OUA team to provide students with answers to their specific challenges and even to build automated journeys for new students, with weekly updates on what to expect and how to adapt to their new programs.
“When we work with students, it's not just a case of getting them enrolled in the right program,” notes Summers. “We're actually there to support them. They're our students, so even though we're not doing the teaching, it's very important for us that we provide the best experience to help them succeed in their studies, and move on in life with whatever they're choosing to do next.”
Lesson Learned: New Platform = Productivity Boost
A few years ago, OUA kicked off a major transformation in the business. The main goal of this transformation was to gain efficiency and productivity - all ultimately in service of the customer. For the contact center, this meant searching for tools that provided intelligent automation - not to replace the human agents, but to allow them to actually spend the bulk of their time speaking with students and customers, solving problems, and not wasting hours on the little stuff.
“Moving to Vonage, we saw improved contact rates almost immediately. But the biggest benefit we’ve seen is the simplification of having our telephony and our CRM all in one place,” said Summers. “Once we started using VCC natively within Salesforce, the number of outbound calls we were able to make in a single day almost doubled within the space of two to three days from around 2,000 to approximately 4,000 - the productivity increase was massive.”
More calls means more conversations with students in need. The OUA team relies on VCC features to customize screens with the right tools and data, quickly and intuitively use insights to let the conversations flow and ultimately create efficient, exceptional customer experiences across every channel. Vonage has enabled OUA to integrate a real-time marketing cloud feed into their Salesforce dialler lists, automating a previously very time-consuming, manual process for thousands of incoming leads per day, so that OUA’s advisors are always calling warm leads first.
“With the automation and integration of Vonage and Salesforce, we were also able to double our conversion rates with the same number of agents. Since the technology compiles and updates our lead lists in real time, our agents are able to spend their valuable time supporting and connecting with students instead of on menial tasks.”
Lightning Fast Implementation
Because the Vonage solution is designed to sit within the Salesforce console, the implementation of Vonage Contact Center is seamless and, most importantly, painless.
“I think we set a land speed record in the time it took from signing our Vonage contract and actually going live. Vonage’s native integration with Salesforce made it so simple to set up our entire contact center and trasisiont off our old platform onto Vonage,” recalls Summers.
OUA made the switch to the cloud-based Vonage Contact Center in early 2020. Just six weeks later, the office was forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because they had Vonage, their team was able to continue supporting their customer base through that hectic and challenging time.
“In March last year, we got a phone call on a Saturday, saying, "We're shutting the office down - everyone has to come in, grab your computer, and go home,” Summers remembers. “Because we had switched from an on prem contact center to Vonage, everyone was able to take their computer home and log into our network via their home WiFi. And since Vonage was inside Salesforce, our team simply had to log into Salesforce and their phone systems were there. We literally lost about four hours of productivity and that was it. The funny thing is, the day after, we started to see productivity go up and our team is still working from home today.”
Collaboration and Innovation in Real Time
Prior to choosing Vonage, the OUA team went through an 18-month digital transformation process, deciding where they wanted to take the business in the future and discovering what technologies they needed to take them there. Once they decided that they needed a solution and a provider that would allow them to build something bigger and a bit more innovative, and give them the flexibility to experiment and do new things, that’s when Vonage came out on top.
“We’re constantly evolving and improving our customer service and the power and breadth of the Vonage Communications platform enables us to innovate in real time,” explains Summers. “We’re working with Vonage’s Conversation Analyzer now, taking the data from Conversation Analyzer, including the intent and outcome of the conversation, and feeding that back into the customer journey. Now we can see where the customers come from, where they may have initiated a call or a messaging conversation, and build a really good picture of what's happening with our customers - and Vonage is an integral part of that.”
The Vonage team has supported OUA in their own journey of transformation and innovation, behaving less like a provider and more like a partner.
“When we kicked off the process of building out our new contact center, we dedicated a whole team to it and so did Vonage, which was how we were able to get it up and running so quickly,” said Summers. “We operate in an agile environment and when we asked our Vonage team if they could be flexible with us throughout the roll out, the response we got was yes. I've never seen anything like it, so it was great.”
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