How Adelaide Football Club is driving fan engagement through its contact centre

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“In a period of COVID uncertainty, the biggest driver for AFC going to TIPT was that it was a cloud-based solution that made our call centre agnostic, rather than being housed in these four walls. It was a quick and easy transition to TIPT and the speed of the implementation was phenomenal.”

Steven Honkoop, General Manager of Technology & Facilities at Adelaide Football Club

With over 60,000 members and even more fans, The Adelaide Football Club is South Australia’s premier sporting enterprise. Known as ‘the crows’, AFC competes in the AFL and AFLW Australian rules football competitions, with a proud history dating back the club’s inception in 1990.

AFC is passionate about providing world-class experiences for its members, as they’re critical to its success as a business. After COVID-19 pushed employees into home office environments, they needed a new contact centre platform that would support the agility and flexibility required by more remote teams.  

AFC decided to replace their previous PBX-based phone system with a Telstra IP Telephony (TIPT) platform, which transformed member engagements and gave call centre teams the freedom to interact with fans from anywhere, whether in the office or at home.

An ageing on-premises system that limited mobility during a crisis

As one of the primary points of engagement for members, AFC’s contact centre is mission critical for its business. It’s the quickest and easiest way for members to renew their membership, making it essential that the experience is as seamless as possible. 

While the on-premises PBX system satisfied their core requirements when they were in the office, they needed a solution that could allow them to react to the changing workplace structure brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With staff working from home, they were unable to field inbound calls and were reliant on members calling the service line and leaving a message for the contact centre to get back to them.

“When COVID hit the first time and we all shut down and went home, our call centre did operate but it was outbound only, operating basically on mobiles,” says Steven Honkoop, General Manager, Technology & Facilities at Adelaide Football Club. “We just needed something quick to keep us going, although it wasn’t sustainable.”

A state-of-the-art transformation, delivered in weeks

After attending a Telstra webinar in August 2021 and learning about TIPT, AFC worked with their Telstra account team to investigate a new phone system that would allow their teams to efficiently engage with members and fans from remote office settings. While they were initially considering a range of cloud and on-premises options, they opted to employ TIPT, a cloud-based telephony solution, as it was and more cost effective and feature-rich than other options.

Time was of the essence, as the organisation was quickly approaching its busiest period of member renewals and needed a solution to be approved and implemented in a matter of weeks.

Telstra partnered with IT business services firm, Wireless Communications, and consulting arm, New Tech Solutions, to migrate AFC from their on-premises PBX system to a fully-fledged TIPT platform within 14 days of project sign off. 

AFC also took advantage of Telstra’s UC Self-Service Portal, which continues to allow them to quickly spin up new services, add new users, and order hardware without having to engage a Telstra representative. “I like to be quite hands on when it comes to managing our IT systems, so I think the portal is great for that” said Honkoop.

Driving real outcomes for fans and the business

The new solution allows AFC to more proactively engage customers remotely. Agents can speak live to the club’s members, whether they’re in the contact centre, working from home, or on the move.

This gives members a consistent and engaging customer experience that’s designed for new ways of working, with enquiries addressed incredibly quickly and to a high standard. Memberships are processed as soon as enquires are made, with payment taken over the phone.

The TIPT service is supported by a WebEx app, providing a feature-rich and easy to navigate experience for internal staff. Using the soft client also allows them to reduce their dependence on physical desk phones, supporting the club’s digital-first agenda.

Via Telstra’s UC Self-Service Portal, AFC can also quickly scale up their call centre capacity to cater to their peak periods in September and October, when they’re renewing the bulk of memberships. It allows AFC’s internal teams to have much greater control and visibility over the services they consume.

This added functionality also came at virtually no cost to the business, costing about the same amount as the PBX system on an ongoing basis. That, combined with the ease of implementation and Telstra’s ongoing support, made the implementation a “no brainer” for AFC.

“The fantastic thing about Telstra is that you get that scale of their business. For smaller organisations like us, we can take advantage of that scale to drive real outcomes,” Honkoop adds. “Tech doesn't sleep, so there will always be new opportunities to explore, and we can always trust Telstra to support us for whatever lies ahead.”