Amazon Web Services (AWS) has gone direct with Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) as part of an effort to overhaul the bank’s contact centre technology.
BNZ chose AWS as its preferred cloud provider for its contact centre technology update, transitioning more than 800 workers from its on-premises contact centre to Amazon Connect, the cloud vendor’s omnichannel cloud contact centre.
Moreover, BNZ is also tapping into AWS’ broader portfolio of cloud services, including machine learning (ML) to develop better ways to engage with customers, including the planned introduction of a unique Amazon Polly brand voice, Āwhina, to its customers early next year.
According to AWS, BNZ is the first bank in the country to adopt Amazon Connect. It is also understood to be the first AWS customer in New Zealand to create a unique brand voice using Amazon Polly.
Āwhina is natively embedded within Amazon Connect and is designed to help customers that call BNZ with banking inquiries.
The set up lets the bank easily introduce new services in the future, meaning BNZ could, if it wanted to, teach Āwhina to discuss new products or services, or create an AI-powered customer service chatbot using Amazon Lex, an AWS service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text.
“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,” Bridgette Dalzell, BNZ Customer Connection Hubs general manager, said.
“Āwhina will use its interactions with customers to continually improve how it best helps to direct customers to the information and bankers they need.
“We’re excited to see how our customers interact with Āwhina, New Zealand’s first natural text-to-speech voice. She reflects the values of BNZ and is consistent with what customers expect when they call us,” she added.
The company plans to progressively roll out Amazon Connect over the next year, with additional analytics services being to be deployed.
AWS’ work with BNZ comes as the bank works with Microsoft — again in an entirely direct capacity — to shift a raft of its applications into Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
BNZ started its modernisation journey with Microsoft and its Fasttrack team by moving two of its staff assisted applications — Cash Management Online and Loyalty Loader (Flybuys) to Azure.
These applications are now leveraging Azure cloud-native services and features, including application identity and access management with Azure Active Directory, AI-enabled analytics with applications insights and improved monitoring.
BNZ also automated the deployment of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline for the databases.
“In the past, the manual deployment for database took up to two hours, and today by using Azure Pipelines under DevOps, we’re able to straight away cut it down to five minutes — a massive difference,” BMK Lakshminarayanan, value stream architect at BNZ, said.
“It’s not just that our CI/CD pipeline became faster, our security scanning and data classification also became faster. It means we’re also becoming more secure.”
Now, BNZ plans to leverage the learnings and skills built through the modernisation of its two applications — Cash Management Online and Loyalty Loader — to streamline upgrades of its remaining applications.