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ANB answers call for contact centre

Arab National Bank (ANB) is ramping up its customer service operations in Saudi Arabia with a new customer contact centre using internet protocol (IP)-based systems from Avaya.

Arab National Bank (ANB) is ramping up its customer service operations in Saudi Arabia with a new customer contact centre using internet protocol (IP)-based systems from Avaya.

Faced with over one million calls a month, ANB, one of the Kingdom’s biggest banks, has set up a new customer service centre in Riyadh, in a project costing around US$1.2 million.

ANB’s current customer contact centre, also in the capital, is to set expand from 85 users to over 250 customer service age-nts by June 2006.

Migration to IP-telephony for the site will be completed by that date. The second site — a stand-alone call centre — will go ‘live’ from December 31 with 30 agents.

The move to IP-based telephony systems, and the impact of the new centre, will result in savings and increased productivity, according to the bank.

“Moving to IP telephony will create more flexibility, more
efficiency, plus more data will be available on the screen of the customer service agent,” said Saad Alkhalb, head of phone banking, ANB.

“When a customer does a transaction via phone banking you make cost savings of 80-85%, compared with a transaction made at one of the bank’s branches.”

The first Riyadh site, where ANB has bought more space to accommodate the new jobs, was set up in 2000.

ANB has used Avaya solutions for its call centre technology, moving it from analogue through to digital phone systems.

It did,, however, consider other vendors during extensive eight-month systems trials for the switch to IP telephony — including Cisco, Nortel, Ericsson and Alcatel — before it decided to continue its relationship and upgrade with Avaya. Global contact centre specialists Servion acted as the third party integrator.

Because of the IP telephony sets, which cost under US$400 each, any user can now have full and immediate access to all aspects of the data bank, rather than having to go away and come back to a customer with an answer in a day or two.

Additionally, users can now unplug and plug in at either of the two call centre locations that use the virtual network – and it may be unveiled in branches, headquarters and at a disaster recovery centre — meaning the workforce is not restricted to one particular base station.

These benefits were crucial factors, according to the bank, in upgrading to IP telephony and gaining an edge in an increasingly competitive market.

“It will save the customer, and the bank, time and money,” said Alkhalb, who pointed out that Avaya’s IP telephony sets can integrate with the PABX Avaya installed in its first contact centre.

ANB’s customer service systems, which deal with transactions and enquiries, address customers with both agent and automated response: at present the latter stands at 67% IVR (interactive voice response).

The new Avaya IP telephony solution comprises of Avaya Communication Manager, Avaya Interactive Centre, Avaya Interactive Response (IR), Interactive Response, and Witness ContactStore Voice Recorder applications.

“This will allow call centre agents to move frequently and freely within the bank network, and give them more access to data,” said Nidal Abou-Ltaif, managing director for Avaya, MENA.

“It will enable the bank to achieve increased levels of reliability and productivity, and to provide the customer with a better service at quicker speeds.”

ANB — which has more than 2500 employees and international banking operations spread across 126 branches — said the IP-based telephony solutions could, in the future, be pushed out to regional offices that deal with other aspects of the business, such as credit card handling and investment banking.

A bank executive said that employees, using IP telephony, may be deployed at the ba- nk’s remote customer contact sites in Jeddah and Dammam.

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