First Response Finance Migrates Voice, Data and Call Centre Functions to the Cloud with Node4’s Hosted and Managed Unified Communications Platform
Managed Services / Colocation Project Of The Year
First Response Finance is a dealer-led vehicle finance company focused on the subprime market. When customers want to buy a car, van, or bike on Hire Purchase, they contact First Response Finance to check eligibility and - if approved - secure an agreement. For the most part, customers phone the company’s call centre, but an increasing amount of business is carried out online through a secure web portal.
First Response Finance first turned to Node4 for a MPLS private WAN, then later, when more flexibility and resilience was required, Node4 helped them migrate to a cloud-based phone and unified communications platform. The whole solution is now hosted and managed by Node4.
What was the driving force behind the project – what business or technology challenge needed to be addressed?
First Response Finance’s old IT network — which supported its voice and data systems — was no longer reliable. There were prolonged call quality issues and frequent outages that left phones offline for an hour at a time. As a company that relied on its phone systems as the first point of contact with car dealerships and customers, the situation had become unsustainable.
Whilst the short-term plan was to find a more reliable IT network, in the longer term, First Response Finance aimed to move to a cloud-based phone and unified communications platform, but to achieve this First Response Finance required its infrastructure to be migrated to the cloud.
Node4 is a cloud-led digital transformation Managed Services Provider (MSP) that provides sophisticated, scalable, cloud-led digital-transformational solutions, which are delivered with technical expertise, best-in-class integrated tooling, and Exceptional Service as a Standard. It was due to Node4’s remarkable reputation that First Response Finance approached it for the project.
How did the solution address the challenges and were there any particularly innovative aspects that made it stand out?
Initially, Node4 provided First Response Finance with an MPLS private WAN to replace their old IT network. For additional resilience to make poor call quality and outages a thing of the past, every location was linked by a primary and backup connection into the Node4 hub, which is located in one of the company’s data centres. Node4 also secured the system with centralised internet breakout via N4Protect+ — its advanced firewall and threat management platform.
With the most pressing matter resolved, First Response Finance and Node4 set on the path to achieve the longer-term aims. The first step was to move First Response Finance’s existing phone server to Node4’s cloud. As an industry-leading cloud infrastructure provider with a CMSP accreditation (Cisco Master Services Provider), Node4’s offering delivered enterprise-grade resiliency without the need for any outlay on IT infrastructure through a combined virtualisation, storage, and backup platform.
18 months after cloud migration was complete, First Response Finance came back to Node4 for help transitioning to one of Cisco’s cloud-based unified communications environments At the same time, Node4 upgraded the company’s contact centre and Quality Management Suite. The entire solution, which also included cost-saving SIP Trunks, is now hosted and managed by Node4.
What tangible benefits has the organisation seen as a result of the project's implementation?
When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, First Response Finance, like everyone else, had to adapt quickly and provide an IT infrastructure that would allow staff to work from home.
As a result of choosing Node4’s solutions, First Response Finance was able to do this quickly and easily - all 280 call centre staff were set up with strong and reliable remote working environments within the first four days of the lockdown. This was essential as business was not disrupted, allowing First Response Finance to continue working with and supporting their car dealers and provide a first-class service to customers at an uncertain time.
In fact, the remote working environment that Node4 set up for them is so strong that First Response Finance feel confident in offering hybrid working options for their staff as the return to the office is permitted.
Not only has First Response Finance benefited from a reliable and secure IT network and the option of flexibility, but they have also experienced cost savings too. By using a cloud-based hosted environment and not having to invest capital on IT infrastructure, Node4’s solution has saved First Response Finance approximately £9,000 per year.
“For me, personally, Node4’s technical knowledge and experience are unsurpassed. They have Master Service Provider designation for Cisco Powered Infrastructure as a Service and Cisco Powered Disaster Recovery as a Service, which inspired great confidence as the project got underway. Today, Node4 has an excellent reputation throughout the company and, in particular, amongst our senior executives, who acknowledge the positive impact that Node4 has had on our operations. The quality and reliability of our voice and data communications are incomparable to our last supplier.” comments James Styles, IT Infrastructure Team Leader at First Response Finance.
Darren Green, Head of IT at First Response Finance, adds: “It’s been business as usual, and the tech hasn’t creaked at any point. We’re not in a hurry to go back to the old ways of working, and we’re very much embracing the positive side of the new normal. But that is, for the most part, down to the strong IT infrastructure that now underpins our business.”