NAB upgrades contact centre technology

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NAB upgrades contact centre technology

The National Australia Bank (NAB) is adding natural speech capabilities to its contact centres in an effort to ‘join the dots’.

Dubbed ‘Smarttalk’, NAB’s natural language speech portal will be launched later this year to replace current IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology.

Smarttalk combines speech recognition software and intelligent routing solutions to resolve customer queries efficiently.

NAB also will be introducing a new voice to reflect the bank’s updated persona.

“That’s going to be a big improvement on where we are,” said Steve Collier, who is NAB’s General Manager Sales Performance Retail Banking.

“The voice talent we use today in our IVR is lovely, but she needs to go into a nursing home,” he said. “It’s not the experience we’d like our customers to have.”

Speaking at Genesys’ G-FORCE APAC 2008 summit in Melbourne today, Collier challenged the perspective that ‘banks are anything but nimble’.

He described how NAB has been able to leverage its investments by building an IP solution based on existing Genesys assets.

By routing all incoming calls via one telephone number using Smarttalk, the technology also is expected to strengthen the bank’s brand.

Smarttalk joins a range of technologies that Collier has introduced since taking the reins of NAB’s contact centre operations.

Driven by the growth of Internet banking and customers’ demand for direct channels of communication to the bank, NAB’s contact centre technology has been developed to deliver a consistent multi-channel experience.

“The reality is that customers are demanding more and more of us over time,” Collier said.

SMS, e-mail and Web facilities have been introduced and improved to cater to the needs of modern, tech-savvy customers.

The NAB Web site has been designed to display a range of information according to customers’ lifestyle needs.

Using automatic data population, customers also are able to obtain an online, real-time conditional approval for credit card applications, from which NAB has reported an ‘exponential’ increase in sales and customer satisfaction.

NAB also has commenced two online chat pilots on its Web site. The first is a banker-assisted chat module that connects customers with sales and service specialists who may be working from home or remote branches of the bank.

The second chat pilot, dubbed ‘NAB Online Assistant’, involves greater technical complexity with the use of an automated chat agent that converses with customers with ‘humanised’, conversational responses and 24x7 availability.

Collier described the chat implementations as a ‘learning opportunity’ for the bank, adding that the bank has found customers to prefer chat over the bank’s call-back option.

“To be honest, I’ve learnt a lot,” he said. “These days, when a colleague in the leads area wants to do something, they come to us first.”

Communication within the organisation, a strong governance process, and the ability to leverage existing assets and business partners were highlighted as key factors for a successful technology implementation.
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