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Student Loan Servicer ECSI Finds Value in CCaaS
As universities head into what’s shaping up to be another semester of primarily virtual classes, academic call centers remain busy answering calls from students, many of whom have troublesome tuition, loan, and other payment questions. Educational Computer Systems (ECSI), an outsourcer for university call center services, will be at the center of much of this outreach, as it has been since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when campuses began shutting down and students headed back home for virtual learning.
Besides its role as an outsourcer for university call centers, ECSI services the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) program. In that role, ECSI has the responsibility of facilitating conversations between students and FSA; in the early days of the pandemic, this often meant making sure students knew about forbearance options, Mike Bowman, director of servicing operations, ECSI, shared in a call with No Jitter.
As a designated essential service provider, ECSI had to keep lines of communication open no matter that it, too, faced operational challenges as shelter-in-place orders came down and it needed to move agents from an office to their homes. Fortunately for ECSI, it already ran its contact center on a cloud platform — NICE inContact’s CXone — and was able to make that transition, Bowman said.
However, ECSI did run into problems with its softphones, which began to fail, Bowman reported. This wasn’t acceptable, he added.
Like other CCaaS providers, NICE inContact had put in place a limited-time free offer to help smooth the agent WFH transition, and ECSI was able to take advantage. To address ECSI’s softphone issue, NICE inContact expedited implementation of its Voice as a Service optimized connectivity suite; the implementation happened within hours, Bowman said. ECSI’s agents noticed the difference immediately, he added. “My reps are saying, ‘Hey, Mike, something changed. The voice quality is way better, and I’m not having any login problems….’ So that was a tremendous help and really improved our situation during a tough time,” he said.
Outside of its pandemic response, Bowman credits the CCaaS platform for improving operations in general. After implementing Advanced Chat for CXone in 2019, for example, ESCI saw chat abandon rates fall by 86%, while customer satisfaction rose by 13%, NICE inContact shared. Additionally, agents are able to do their jobs more efficiently with automation capabilities, seamlessly moving from one call to another and surface canned responses for frequently asked questions, for example. And, with co-browsing, agents can view the same webpages as the students they’re helping out. “That has saved so much time and frustration,” he added.
ECSI now expects NICE inContact to keep it “at the leading edge of technology,” Bowman said. “We have the technology available [that allows us] to do more work and be there for [our clients],” he said. “We’re happy to be in a position to help them out.”