The National Australia Bank (NAB) could trial work-from-home call centres by the end of the year, after rolling out a VoIP-based 'virtual contact centre' platform late last month.
NAB moved 3200 contact centre agents – including customer service and help desk staff – off legacy PABX systems in July under a three-year, $30 million program of work.
It replaced 14 combinations of hardware and applications with a virtualised, web-based platform for 38 contact centres across the country.
The platform was centrally installed in NAB’s two data centres in Melbourne, saving the bank $300,000 when compared to running separate platforms.
NAB’s head of network services Graham Cronin told a Genesys customer conference last week that the platform moved the bank away from a traditional “bricks and mortar” structure to a more flexible, customer-centric environment.
He said NAB's contact centres were in an “old world” prior to the virtual contact centre rollout, citing capacity constraints, high real estate costs and ageing technology as reasons for change.
Coupled with the bank's four-year-old AccessNAB thin client application, Cronin said the platform could allow contact centre staff to work from home, echoing comments from banking and insurance group Suncorp earlier this year.
Suncorp hoped to retain more contact centre workers by allowing staff to work from home, while also saving between $10,000 and $15,000 for each city-centre desk it no longer required.
“We haven’t put anyone in a home agent site yet,” NAB's Cronin told iTnews. "It’ll be a trial that the business will now come and talk about.
“We want to do it because it provides flexibility to our staff. What we’ve now got to work out is what’s the best way to deliver that to them, how’s the agent set up at home and all those sorts of things.
“I’d like to do it between now and Christmas but it’ll come down to how [the business] wants to drive that change.”
NAB expected the virtual contact centre platform to shave 30 percent off its operational costs, while improving wait times and allowing it to optimise its rostering.
Cronin said the platform also prepared the bank to shift from operating traditional call centres to multimedia contact centres.
“We’re doing something at the moment in the mobile app space … that allows our customers to ask us to ring them back at a later stage and do other elements,” he said.
“That’s hopefully due to come out between now and Christmas. Previously, we didn’t have the infrastructure that would allow us to do that.”
He told iTnews that the platform could also be integrated with consumer video conferencing technology like Apple’s FaceTime and Skype.
Cronin acknowledged that video conferencing would be particularly useful to customers in remote locations like mine sites but it would be “up to the business” to decide on whether to roll out such a service.