INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana Members Credit Union is calling through the cloud after deploying a hosted, Internet Protocol telephone application—and has cut about 30% from monthly costs.

"The monthly cost savings will be $12,000 to $15,000—on the conservative side," said Deidra Dunagin, VP-information systems at the $1.3-billion CU. "Costs for T1 connectivity are less than our old vendor, and [Voice-over Internet Protocol] is used with fewer telephone lines at each location."

Indiana Members decided to jump off of Cisco's in-house Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform in March, favoring the Hosted IP Phone System from Axia Technology Partners, she continued.

"We were using Cisco's VoIP, Call Manager and Unity, version 4.1," Dunagin said. "Maintenance was getting very expensive." The CU was ready to upgrade to version 6, but Cisco required the purchase of three servers to support the new software. Each server would cost between $15,000 to $18,000, and maintenance would be $20,000 to $25,000 per year, she said.

With Axia, Indiana Members was able to use existing hardware, including IP handsets, but begin accessing the full functionality of up-to-date VoIP telephony, including voice, call center and conferencing, Dunagin explained.

Axia's Hosted PBX application stores and maintains PBX equipment off site and delivers PBX functionality over the credit union's private IP connection. Axia also provides the data communications links between all the CU's locations, relying on multiple carriers for redundancy to ensure that Indiana Members never lose phone or Internet service.

Dunagin said she uses the Axia Web portal to configure the VoIP system. She can instantly add or remove phone extensions, call groups and individuals across the 25-location credit union, including the call center, mortgage services, business services, IT, back office support and all branches—280 users in all, she added.

The call-group feature allows Indiana Members to organize call center agents according to their skill sets, said Dunagin. "Members can choose between different options when they call, for example, loans, debit cards, credit cards or just general questions, and be directed to the most suitable representative."

At each branch, an "all-ring" group ensures that all employees in that group will hear the phone ring and "answer right away," she said. "We don't want to miss any phone calls from members." Indiana Members retained a small number of analog lines for faxing and business continuity, said Dunagin.

Employees can drag and drop within the Axia Q-View call management software to transfer calls to another extension or add people to a conference call. Other capabilities include video calls and fax-to-e-mail.

The 'Follow Me' Feature

Calls can be forwarded to mobile phones, which is handy for business continuity and the mobile workforce. "We like the 'Follow Me' feature" Dunagin said. "That way, employees are less likely to miss calls, and they are not chained to their desk." Indianapolis-based Axia provides IP solutions, including phone services, enterprise PBX, wide-area network (WAN) connectivity and Internet access.

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