Kiwibank Q&A: Cloud Creates a Bright Future for CX


Kiwibank is there for its customers — in every possible way. Its contact center is at the center of this connection. And Emma Noble-Beasley, General Manager, Contact Center, is focused on making the Kiwibank customer experience (CX) the best it can be.

“Contact centers are experiencing a resurgence; the technology is getting better by the day and the ability to grow and develop a workforce that does meaningful work on leading-edge technology is exciting,” said Noble-Beasley. “More and more of our workforce — not just the contact center — have adopted technology. And this is what gets me up and out of bed every day — being able to be a part of the future.”

I recently spoke with Emma about the bank’s move to the Genesys Cloud™ platform, its work with integration partner Spark NZ and where CX is moving in the future at Kiwibank.

What does customer experience (CX) mean to you? What’s your philosophy when it comes to your customers?

Emma Noble-Beasley: Today, customers have the power and the choice of who they bank with and work with. Delivering exceptional customer experiences ensures you have high customer loyalty and customer retention, especially in a competitive market.

Kiwibank is truly a Kiwi bank, with every cent of our profit staying right here in New Zealand. We’re ambitious for New Zealand and New Zealanders, and we’re dedicated to making Kiwi better with big aspirations for NZ and our customers. So, ensuring that, at each touchpoint, the experience is aligned and more than meets customer expectations is critical. The experience is important because that is what people remember.

What were you using prior to Genesys to manage your CX? Why did you choose Genesys?

Noble-Beasley: Kiwibank was running an out-of-date contact center solution that required significant investment just to stand still. We had gaps in our business continuity capability as we were unable to route and record calls outside of our contact center sites. That’s not great in a pandemic and during a nationwide lockdown. In addition, it didn’t provide basic features that our customers expected.

We were often asked by customers “Why can’t you call me back rather than wait on hold?” or have a joined-up view of customer interactions for our people. The solution consisted of five different systems that didn’t talk (well) to each other. Everyone likes to engage in different ways, and we need to be able to adapt and cater to that — make things easy — which our legacy system didn’t.

Spark NZ was instrumental in the success to rapidly deploy a Genesys business continuity plan (BCP) solution. Ease of implementation was a key reason for implementing Genesys. Spark NZ enabled Kiwibank to go live with Genesys Cloud within five weeks. People are working differently, so being accessible when needed is key — whether that is self-service out of hours or messaging — and Genesys Cloud enabled all of this. Our contact center call flow configuration was so complex, we decided initially to use Genesys for simple call flows and for teams that only made outbound calls enabling them to work from home. Then, after the initial lockdown, we worked to implement into our more complex areas with great success. We haven’t even scratched the surface with features that are available, so we are continually rolling out features and functionality that improve the experience for both our people and customers.

Once you have the platform in place it’s all about creating the customer journeys — using APIs from either AppFoundry® or other niche plugins to create the experience we want our customers to have. Our regretful spend is gone, and the focus has moved to best practices and aligning to benefits and outcomes. Next for us will be meshing together voice, SMS, self-service, messaging to support customers the way they want to be helped. We will be informed by data insights along the way.

What challenges did the COVID-19 pandemic pose on customer service and the contact center?

Noble-Beasley: When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, Kiwibank branches closed, and the contact center became the key engagement method for customers who were facing unprecedented financial concerns. We needed to quickly enable contact center teams to work from home and offer not just business as usual, but increased customer service during extraordinary times.

Standing up the solution to enable customer service through COVID-19 was just the beginning. The initial BCP project proved Genesys and the cloud were the right tools for us. And it helped inform the business case for a wider rollout that saw us step off a legacy platform onto a fully cloud-based solution — helping us deliver great customer experience and journeys and provide readiness for the future. By January 2021, migration of all 550-plus users to the new platform was complete. Fifty 0800 numbers had been migrated to Genesys Cloud, with more than 90 call flows built and tested. By May 2021, we had nearly 600 active users, with the single Genesys Cloud replacing five systems previously used to support contact center voice channels.

The new platform offers a range of services previously unavailable to our customers, including callback services and auto-dialing to reduce wasted time for staff. Use of a blend of technologies, from Google Cloud Text-to-Speech for instant in-queue messaging to integration with Oration First Contact for virtual agent call steering and customer identification, have provided us with new services. Via Architect Scripter Agent was used to design an agent desktop using Chrome plugins, screen pops and Lambda call actions to integrate with other Kiwibank applications. As a cloud solution, Genesys Cloud can scale up and down quickly in response to customer demand — with full functionality, including critical call recording and pre-recorded disclosures.

In just 12 months, using the Spark NZ cloud and contact center deployment skills and our skills in banking and customer journey as well as agile methodology, we have delivered a BCP deployment and gone on to a full migration of a complex architectural environment. Delivering a true cloud-based platform has future-proofed us, enabling us to embrace other new technologies to further increase customer service.

How are you using bots, robotic process automation (RPA), conversational AI, predictive routing and automation to meet your CX goals?

Noble-Beasley: The Kiwibank solution uses AWS and Google Cloud offerings, including bot technology and API integrations for Google Cloud Text-to-Speech and Dialogflow integrated into Genesys Cloud to create a simple, enjoyable customer journey — making banking easy for customers.

What cloud-based capabilities do you plan to use in the future to further improve CX?

Noble-Beasley: We have big aspirations as an organization and, I’d say, implementing Genesys Cloud has been part of the adoption and migration to future systems. We are in the early stages of building the future bank on the cloud. The fact of having an evergreen solution with regular deployments of new functionality allows us flexibility and the ability to control more as a business, as opposed to having to wait and move through a project and funding cycle. In our customer-facing teams, having Genesys as a foundation also allows us to configure, test and learn, and utilize across our entire workforce — not just the contact center — but also our branches, business banking areas and back office. We are also working on using more tools, such as bots, chat and messaging, in the near future.

To learn more, read the Kiwibank case study.