Kiwibank to get VoIP phones

Kiwibank is in the process of converting its contact centre to voice over IP technology, which Wellington-based manager Chris Sturgeon says will provide “endless opportunity” for new functionality.

The Cisco system is being implemented by Telecom and will take Kiwibank from a “first-generation” centre — using a Nortel Meridian PBX — to “third-generation”, Sturgeon says.

“It’s a full CTI [computer-telephony integration] solution,” he says, which will enable IP-based telephone banking.

Sturgeon says people are the key to a successful centre.

“People are absolutely everything,” says the former National Bank contact centre manager.

His formula for getting the best from them is to provide a fun environment to foster an energetic and enthusiastic attitude to the job.

He appears to get results: staff turnover at the Kiwibank centre is 9%, compared to an industry average in the mid-20s, Sturgeon says. The centre handles about 3000 calls a day.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health, meantime, will consider VoIP for its new Healthline phone service.

The national service will be staffed by nurses, who will answer callers’ health-related questions. Project manager Karin Bowen says the MoH has invited potential suppliers to propose solutions that will handle up to 400,000 calls a year. Proposals will include call handling capabilities integrated with a suitable medical knowledge base.

The system, whose budget she won’t reveal, is intended to be operating by the first half of next year.