NBAD drives efficiency with Altitude uCI suite

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has consolidated its disparate contact centres into one and overhauled its customer centric technology.

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By  Anna Karhammar Published  January 8, 2004

|~|sherif.jpg|~|Srood Sherif, NBAD’s head of information technology.|~|National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has consolidated its disparate contact centres into one and overhauled its customer centric technology. Carried out by an in-house team and HP’s services division, the project has seen the finance house’s infrastructure upgraded and Altitude Software’s uCI suite implemented. The solution replaces NBAD’s aging legacy system, which was inefficient and unable to deliver the service levels required by the bank’s burgeoning customer base. “We had a smaller scale call centre with a system that gave them [the contact centre agents] access to the areas the customer usually asked about, such as balance enquiries. However, the PC had to [continually] establish different sessions with each of the systems they were querying,” explains Srood Sherif, NBAD’s head of information technology. “As such, there was no mechanism for tracing calls or logging customer complaints apart from manually writing them down. There was no systematic way of doing things and this meant there were efficiency issues and it took a long time to answer the customer’s enquiry,” he says. This assembly, including its inefficiencies, was replicated throughout the bank’s operations as small contact centre teams handled specific elements of its business, such as internet banking and credit cards. According to Sherif, the decision to overhaul this set up came when the bank’s senior management expressed a desire to transform the call centre from a cost centre into a self-funding and profitable business unit capable of cross selling NBAD’s portfolio of products. “They wanted it [the contact centre] to be another channel, and one that it is going to be a profit centre and will improve services,” he says. HP was recruited to oversee the design, consultancy, and project management of the new contact centre and work began in July 2002. Rather than building a specific facility to house the centre, NBAD opted to use an existing property, which had housed the IT team’s development unit until it moved to the bank’s headquarters. “This was excellent because the infrastructure was already there, such as the cabling and so on. What we have done is increase the bandwidth and introduce some more reliability and fault tolerance [to the network] because the call centre is going to be a critical service,” says Sherif. To ensure the contact centre is capable of delivering a 24x7 service, NBAD duplicated the lines going to and from the facility and upgraded its PABX and ATM link, which also provided the necessary increase in bandwidth. On the hardware side, the bank installed fault tolerant and mirrored servers. “We have also created a back up server offsite that can be active in a couple of hours,” adds Sherif. Meanwhile, the Altitude uCI solution comprises support for both inbound and outbound voice, interactive voice response (IVR), e-mail, web collaboration and chat. It allows NBAD’s service agents to handle telephone interactions, as well as requests made via e-mail. Regardless of whether customers use the phone or the web to contact the centre, an agent is able to view a customer’s entire relationship with the bank due to the software’s computer telephony integration (CTI) and desktop application capabilities. “Once a customer is verified, a screen comes up with the customer’s credit card balance, account balance, name, address, last call and so on. We couldn’t do this before and all the agent could do is serve the customer exactly on what he or she asked for,” says Sherif. “Clients can be handled according to their individual needs, depending on their profile with the bank; and once a client’s needs are identified, he or she can be routed to the best available customer service representative without having frustrating transfers or long waits in queues,” explains Jehad Masoud, project manager, NBAD. In addition to actually interacting with the bank’s service agents, the IVR component of the uCI suite allows NBAD customers to serve themselves using voice menus and touch-tone phone controls. “Customers can go through the IVR to do their business, but if they want to talk to an agent then they press a button,” confirms Sherif. “However, the agent knows who the customer is and that they have been identified. This means they [the customers] do not have to go through the whole identification process again,” he explains. Although the new contact centre was only being used with select customers at the time of going to press, pilot projects and an internal audit show that the Altitude solution will improve the number of calls answered within 15 seconds by 41% and enhance the average speed of answer by 48%. When it opens officially, the centre will also help NBAD reduce its operational costs and pay for itself as it generates additional revenue from cross-selling opportunities and the additional customer loyalty it helps create. “We have very high hopes for the contact centre and we will be treating it not only as a service but a business generator,” says Sherif. “We want to expand it to 50 agents next year and ensure our customers get the type of attention they deserve,” he adds.||**||

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