ADIB reaches out

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has launched a contact centre in a bid to automate more of the services it offers to its customers. The centre in Abu Dhabi is currently home to six agents and is built around Altitude’s UCi 7 contact centre solution. HP’s services division was responsible for the consultancy and project management of the contact centre.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  August 1, 2004

|~|adel_m.jpg|~||~|Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) has launched a contact centre in a bid to automate more of the services it offers to its customers. The centre in Abu Dhabi is currently home to six agents and is built around Altitude’s UCi 7 contact centre solution. HP’s services division was responsible for the consultancy and project management of the contact centre. The bank is placing emphasis on service fulfilment with the new system and is keen to add a doorstep delivery service for customers. ADIB sees the contact centre as a key facilitator in this. The bank also plans to roll out internet banking by the end of the year and sees the 24 hour customer service afforded by the contact centre as a prerequisite for success in this endeavour. “Our customers will have a choice between going to the branch for services and queries or going to the contact centre and we want them to choose to go to the contact centre,” says Adel Ahmed Al Zarouni, senior vice president of IT, ADIB. ADIB is trying to deliver as many services as possible through the new facility. Replacing ATM and credit cards, ordering new cards, telex transfers, pay orders, demand drafts and utility payments are all available. The bank can also help customers fill out financial applications via the contact centre, saving customer time before visiting the branch to finalise. “We have learned lessons in service fulfilment and need to bring more convenience to the customers,” says Al Zarouni. “We want to add the ability to deliver to the door step and we see the contact centre as a key facilitator here,” he adds. Cash cannot be delivered at present the bank is explorign the possibility. The contact centre, which soft launched on April 9, is built to tackle both inbound and outbound services, although only inbound services are online at present. Outbound services are projected to launch in September. ADIB will now follow up with a media campaign to publicise the new service to its customers and hire additional staff when the outbound service goes live. When the unit is fully operational it will be open 24 hours, selling banking products as well as tackling enquiries. “We are rolling out unified messaging as we want one access point to all channels of communication,” says Al Zarouni. “This is going to be across the whole bank, not just the contact centre. Contact centre agents can deal with fax, e-mail and voice, with voice mail still under way,” he adds. The contact centre is located at the Khalifa branch and shares the building with ADIB’s card centre. All ADIB networking infrastructure is built on Cisco technology. The building contains two Cisco routers (primary and back-up), with Cisco switches serving each floor. ADIB uses 10/100 Ethernet cabling throughout, except in the computer room, where it utilises Gigabit cabling, with fibre for the backbone between the switches. On the software side, the Altitude solution takes care of call management. The product has three elements, with UAgent the interface in which the agent views customer data and deals with calls and messages. Altitude UCi sits at the back end and holds the routines and logics to conduct transactions. The third component is Altitude’s IVR. This includes the Computer Telephony Interface (CTI), which allows customer information to be brought up on the call agent’s screen once the customer is validated and routed to the agent. The Altitude software communicates with the back-end banking systems, such as the core banking, trade finance, card and ATM systems through Sybase Financial Fusion middleware. “We decided to put the middleware in as the first step, which is simpler. When we established the contact centre it could communicate with the back-end banking systems, without going to each system separately,” says Al Zarouni. With such a complex network, covering the contact centre as well as numerous back-end systems, managing infrastructure becomes key. ADIB is looking for an enterprise management system that can take care of the whole system, from servers to PCs, databases and network devices. The company has not yet selected a solution but is looking at products from IBM, BMC, Computer Associates and HP. Moving to security, ADIB already has a robust solution in place for the bank and didn’t add any measures because of the contact centre deployment. “We don’t allow any external devices to hook up to our network. Cisco’s Access Control Server technology stops any foreign device from logging in to the system and no bank employees are allowed to use removable media. All entry points on the net are protected. We use multiple virus engines and firewall solutions,” says Al Zarouni. The contact centre paves the way for the next step in ADIB’s IT infrastructure grand plan — to take its operations online. “The internet will provide our customers with 24 hour banking,” says Al Zarouni. “If you don’t have the back-up of 24 hour support you could run into problems. This is why we got the contact centre up and running first, so we could complement 24 hour banking with 24 hour customer service.” “We will provide an interactive service online and the contact centre is central to this. If customers are not sure about something, they can check with a call centre agent. We have set the system up to accommodate e-mail and instant messaging but we expect phone enquiries to be the most common,” he adds. The contact centre move is part of ADIB’s ongoing commitment to use state-of-the-art IT products to help provide a competitive service to its customers. One year ago the bank started to roll-out Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and anticipates that the implementation will be completed by the end of 2005. “We have a large network, with 15 locations, including a head office split over two buildings. It will take two years to make all of the network converged,” says Al Zarouni. The bank uses Free Space Optics (FSO), to give a high-speed connection between offices. The solution is built on LightPointe’s FlightStrata product line, while CNS systems engineers developed the network-to-network link. The laser-based pipeline carries data, video and voice and is designed to be durable and reliable. The beam is also designed to operate flawlessly in extreme weather conditions. “This project embodies our efforts to rollout new products and services that are fast, reliable and add value to our customers,” says Al Zarouni.||**||

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