In my work as a professional board member, and in my travels as a jobbing technology analyst, I often come across organizations looking to leverage technology to drive better outcomes for customers. This “digitisation” angle, is an oft-mentioned ambition.

But one area where the conversation goes sideways is in the customer support department and, more specifically, when discussing call centers.

You see, quite understandably, most people have gotten used to a “modernise the call center” conversation actually being a front for a “let’s fire all our customer service agents and outsource to India (or, sometimes, the Philippines.”

We’ve all heard stories (or been frustrated ourselves) after having conversations with outsourced call centers and receiving customer service that was out of context, out of tune with who we are, and unable to understand our language or accent. I would posit that, when it comes to technology adoption, the call center is the strongest opponent of change.

But it really isn’t binary, and some news I got down the wire this week shows just that. As we speak I’m virtually attending Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) reInvent conference. The shindig is normally held in Vegas but, thanks to the mighty ‘rona, we’re all attending online

Anyway, via a joint announcement between AWS and the BNZ, (who, coincidentally, happens to be the bank I’ve been a customer of for 40 or so years) the news was released that BNZ is transitioning its 800+ call center staff over to AWS’ new Connect offering.

Connect is touted as an “omnichannel” contact center offering. What that means in laymans’ terms is that Amazon is bundling up a heap of its existing infrastcuture tools, and combining them in ways that drive better outcomes for customers.

The idea is that customer support agents will have a suite of additional tools to give them more context about customers, such that they can avoid having customers having to (among other things) explain their situation multiple times to different people. Such things as:

  • Amazon Connect Wisdom. This service has built-in connectors to knowledge repositories and listens into calls and delivers information on customers so agents can personalize service.
  • Amazon Connect Customer Profiles, which aggregates order history, contact history, sales, CRM and other data.
  • Real-Time Contact Lens, which identifies customer issues in real-time during a call.
  • Amazon Connect Tasks to track and manage tasks for contact agents and supervisors.
  • Amazon Connect Voice ID, which provides real-time caller authentication using machine learning. 

All together, this is meant to deliver the customer to the right banker, with the right information, more rapidly and in doing so to keep customers happy (something the banking sector hasn’t been so good at, recently)

Bridgette Dalzell, General Manager of Customer Connection Hubs at BNZ put it this way”

Using Amazon Connect will improve the customer experience with BNZ, reducing wait times and ensuring our customers are connected to the right banker, the first time they call. This is the first time we will put AI techniques to work to deliver a richer and more accurate experience that adapts to our customers’ evolving banking needs, and having a Kiwi voice on the end of the line will help keep the experience grounded here in New Zealand,”

Of course the proof is in the pudding and I note that BNZ is rolling out this solution over the next 12 months or so but as a BNZ customer, as well as a technology pundit, I’m keen to experience the difference that a technology fabric can make to deliver customer service grounded within a local paradigm.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.