Speaking exclusively to Banker Middle East, Stuart Beaumont, Global Head, Voice & Virtual at Standard Chartered Bank, shares his views on digital transformation and explains why he has chosen Avaya as a technology partner.
editor's pickSunday 12, May 2019
Tell us a little bit about Standard Chartered and how it’s evolving.
Standard Chartered is a leading international banking group, with a presence in 60 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 85. Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, Here for good.
While we’ve been around a long time—over 160 years—we’re evolving at an increasing pace in sync with our clients’ fast-paced, digitally connected, lives to make banking easier for them. As a result, we’re designing digital banking that is easy, convenient and secure.
How are customer preferences shifting, and what challenges do these shifts bring? How are Standard Chartered responding?
We’re supportive of clients communicating though a channel of their choice. With the internet, these channels are proliferating at an incredible rate. Phone is fast becoming a non-preferred channel, with chat, messaging and social all gaining momentum as we try and do business on client terms.
That said, voice is not going anywhere yet. In banking we sell trust and advice, and it is important that our clients can ‘speak’ with the bank. New channels don’t replace voice, but rather complement it, resulting in our voice interactions being more relationship focused, rather than transactional. Still, we are focusing heavily on enabling full-service banking through other channels, and there are challenges to overcome there.
For example, if you’re creating a full-service offering—i.e. allowing the client to ‘stay in channel’, rather than making it a gimmick—you need it be secure and authenticated, and data management needs to be considered. Connectivity is another challenge—we need to allow seamless client transition between channels, while ensuring the context remains.
At the same time, to maintain frontline productivity, we must unify the channels at the agent desktop. We also need to consider maintaining sales momentum as clients converse across newer channels. Other challenges to contend with include the cost to deploy and support new technologies that can handle these new channels, and client entry points.
How do our customers start their service journey? Do they commence a chat through mobile, online banking, Facebook, or another social network? We must be where our clients are, so we need to consider all these variables. In response, we’re focused on digital banking with a human touch. That means high channel availability, repeatability across markets, and clear integration with the contact centre, which is often the last resort for a client.
We also need platforms that can cater for new channels that may not yet have emerged.
You’ve chosen a cloud-based solution from Avaya to address these challenges—specifically a managed hybrid cloud model. Why did Standard Chartered take this route?
We had to do something different. We have contact centres in many countries, and numerous contact centre platforms to manage. Managing many disparate platforms can be costly, while potentially resulting in inconsistent client experiences. We felt there had to be a better way, while ensuring optimal security and data privacy.
The cloud model made the most sense, then. But public cloud was not a model that was yet suitable for us when weighed against our business and client requirements. Avaya’s private cloud created the global platform we needed, while within the bank’s environment. Not only did we like the solution design, but the managed services that Avaya offers allow us to consume the service, only paying for what we use.
We can scale extremely quickly and deploy across different country contact centres in an efficient manner.
Other vendors can propose similar deployment models addressing those challenges. Why did Standard Chartered Bank choose Avaya as its contact centre partner?
A comprehensive selection process was undertaken. We started out with our desired design principles that solved for the problems we faced, and we approached numerous vendors. Our requirement was that, whichever vendor took on the project, they needed to deliver the rich contact centre features and capabilities that we needed, deploy them on a private cloud solution, and manage the service with flexibility.
Avaya was chosen as our partner due to not only to their proven track record within the bank, but also because their solution was simple, easy, and can transition to public cloud if and when the Bank is ready. Avaya also had solid experience in managed services, so the vendor ticked all the boxes.
How do you see digital communications between a financial services institution and their customers/clients evolving in the next three years?
Digital communications will become smarter, simpler and more personalised as clients increasingly seek convenient yet secure ways of banking. Sophisticated technology such as speech analytics and artificial intelligence will be more prevalent, and financial services institution will get better at mining the data from past interactions and transactions to build clearer pictures of their clients, to the extent that clients expect personalised conversations which pre-empt their needs.
As self-service and automation play a greater role, we will see our clients’ digital engagements increase and human-assisted engagements decrease. This is when it becomes crucial to find the sweet spot between balancing their desire to take control of their financial needs with our digital services and offering the option of a “human” touch when they require assistance. Most of us like the convenience of being able to transact and carry out most service requests on our mobile devices, but there are instances when our first instinct would be to call the bank (for example, when our card is rejected or when we spot a fraudulent activity on our account).
Whether this happens in the traditional sense where they pick up a phone, or through more digital channels like video or chat banking, contact centre agents will remain integral to our ability to deliver a good banking experience.
That is why we continue to focus on not just developing user-friendly digital self-service solutions, but also enhancing our clients’ contact centre experience. At the end of the day, it’s not just about transactions, but also the relationships.
Why banks are embracing private cloud
An opinion by Ayman Majzoub, Senior Director – Private Cloud & Managed Services at Avaya International.
Banks and financial services providers have historically kept close control of their IT: they always built and ran their own data centers that housed most, if not all, of their applications and solutions, supported typically by large in-house tech teams.
CIOs used to justify the investments involved in this approach because of IT and data security reasons, regulatory compliance to national data laws, and the lack of reliability/availability of public cloud services.
The performance of those public cloud services did not tend to deliver what the industry needed when it came to guaranteed, real-time access to business-critical data and workflows when required. This was especially true of communication and collaboration applications like telephony, video, and contact center applications.
However, this is set to change as banks look closely at the opportunities and cost savings offered by cloud services. Banks have been reluctant to adopt public cloud technologies where computing resources are made available, usually on shared infrastructure, to multiple customers and accessed via the internet.
But by contrast, there recently has been growing interest in using private clouds (where computing and applications are provided exclusively to the bank over a private network, either within or off physical premises, and from behind the bank's firewalls).
Standard Chartered is one of several banks taking this approach. In April 2019, Standard Chartered partnered with Avaya to deliver a multi-year CX transformation project that will enable the bank to more fully align its services with clients’ fast-paced, digitally connected lives.
The Avaya OneCloud Private solution enables banks to hit the ground running with Unified Communications and Contact Center solutions delivered on their own private cloud. This solution provides banks with the agility, time-to market, and cost effectiveness typically associated with cloud propositions while offering data security and privacy of its customer and proprietary data.