NAB talks up contact centre facelift

Build your contact centre through staff training, retention and up-skilling.

The National Australia Bank is rolling out a massive contact centre consolidation project to unify the customer experience across 15 access points, and is deploying improved Web technology to address Internet users.

NAB general manager for direct sales and service Steve Collier was tasked in 2002 with making NAB's contact centre profitable after centre managers regularly resigned every 12 months.

"There was never much of a thought about when to ring customers and new applications were disparate," Collier said, noting that his role governs direct channels such as Internet banking, e-mail, and voice technology such as IVR, as opposed to indirect channels like branch offices.

He said solid process management and a focus on staff training, retention and up-skilling has turned the bank's contact centre from a confused silo to a unified service and sales centre.

"Operators can start an interaction in one channel and complete it in another because we have the same CRM tool across every direct channel," Collier said.

Collier is also working to consolidate the bank's telephone numbers into a single number, designing click-to-talk application on the company's Web site, and implementing customer segmentation routing to direct "premium" or enterprise customers to specially trained operators.

"We have commissioned an internal team to keep improving our process management around efficiency, and we need to work out a scorecard and better call recording to provide relevant feedback to operators," he said, adding that the bank needs simple technologies to fill holes, such as call progress detection to stem the tide of voicemails.

"Straight-through-processing is something we all want and we are very much in the [middle] of our change process; we are also working on using SMS for security and as a second gateway, and speech and voice biometrics are on the table."

To improve customer adoption, Collier urged staff to register for the new technologies, such as SMS transaction verification, and found adoption rates increased by about 60 percent which he says translates to direct customer acceptance.

Under Collier, contact centre managers spend about two hours a day taking directly to customers, while the bank's executive financial services team is taken in three times a year to hear the customer experience in person. Former contact centre operators are also called in to address operators on career prospects.

Collier said in-house channel conflict has fallen amid its customers' rising use of direct channels such as the Web, telephone, and e-mail.

"Direct channels are the future and while not everyone has realized it, they aren't threatened."

Collier was speaking today at the CustomerConnect contact centre event in the Hunter Valley.

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