Transforming the Student Experience & Boosting Scalability

Replacing the legacy set up with a fit for purpose omnichannel platform


Scalability topping the shopping list

Emphasising business and commercial enterprise, Aston University attracts students from over 120 countries. Contact centre agents handle incoming enquiries on admissions, finance, and student support all year round for those attending the university and its business school.

Incoming calls rise dramatically from about 250 to more than 10,000 a day during the clearing season in August. The contact centre needs the scalability to manage that, while routing calls to address students’ needs once they have secured a place and until they arrive in September.

Trevor Bayliss, IT Technical Director, recalls: “With our legacy set up, telephony was the main channel available, but our contact centre capacity was stretched. Call wait times during clearing were exceeding 10 minutes and we had no idea how many candidates we lost once we passed the system limit of 400 simultaneous calls.”

Introduced by a partner, BrightCloud Group explained that moving to Cisco Webex Cloud Contact Centre would make the best use of resources with many more channels and features.

Speeding agent teams on board

Playing a key role in building a contact centre that’s fit for purpose, with considerable room for growth, the BrightCloud team’s planning and expertise helped create flexible cloud-based call handling processes to focus on what matters most – an unrivalled student experience.

It took just three months to get the first team (the IT helpdesk) onboard and the process of bringing other teams such as finance and student wellbeing online has continued apace. Trevor says: “BrightCloud were so patient in helping us with our cloud journey, including handholding as we brought new agents online.”

Agents can work from home, a model established during the pandemic. That dynamic working policy, distributing calls to agents virtually anywhere, changes back during clearing. At that time, most agents are based on campus as there’s often a need to bring subject matter experts into the conversation.

“BrightCloud has enabled us to make big strides. “I’m confident we’ll see even more improvements – like further-reduced call waiting and abandonment rates and improved call handling times – in the coming clearing cycle.”

Trevor Bayliss, IT Technical Director, Aston University


Recording and reporting inthe digital domain

Aston University typically has 80 live agents, but this rises to over200 during clearing. Trevor says: “The legacy licencing model was inflexible, making it expensive to introduce additional seats for high volumes, while still supporting other university departments.”

The Cisco Webex Cloud Contact Centre platform has omnichannel ability to handle calls, emails, and webchat, while providing IT and leadership teams with real time reports, for actionable insights on where the university needs to adapt its approach.

Trevor explains: “We can see historical records of all contacts with incoming callers, which reduces duplication of effort. Along with automatic call reporting and recording that saves time and money.” The impact cannot be underestimated. From the applicant experience standpoint, they can digitally connect over their channel of choice without excessive wait times during what can be a distressing period.

Looking to the future

Since the Cisco Webex Cloud Contact Centre implementation, Aston University has adopted Microsoft Dynamics to not only speed processes and workflows, but also optimise efficiency. The goal is to halve wait times during clearing, while better tracking and directing calls. This will evolve to incorporate social media and email communication, while chatbots will simplify functions like the IT help desk.

Now the university can add more agents, support more teams, and better manage call flows. The agents themselves (and their supervisors) are empowered by dashboard reporting and call traffic intelligence. More satisfied and productive, they can optimise their own call processes, focus on quality, and work across varied digital and voice channels.

Other benefits introduced by BrightCloud can’t be underestimated. Aiming to reduce candidate anxiety, call queueing and intelligent routing help manage thousands of stressed callers who’ve just got their A Level results.

Aston University also intends to engage in proactive marketing activity to prospective students and alumni in the increasingly competitive world of further education. Cisco Webex Cloud Contact Centre Outbound is tailor-made to handle such outbound communications as well as the inbound channels that are already serving the university so well.

Trevor concludes: “We can be assured the Cisco Webex Cloud Contact Centre Outbound platform will continue to support us. We think we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Also, the knowledge we’re in a long-term relationship with BrightCloud makes us feel more secure.”


“Flexibility and diligence from BrightCloud introduced us to a new way of working. The legacy system had limited our horizons and hampered our ability to evolve. We’ve learned so much from BrightCloud and it has freed our team to focus on areas where IT can now make much more of an impact.”

Trevor Bayliss, IT Technical Director, Aston University


Solution Breakdown

  • Cisco Unified Contact Centre Enterprise (UCCE)
  • Microsoft 365
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • CCBox Call Recording
  • CCBox Wallboard
  • Self Service
  • Managed Service
  • BCSquared