The ATB Story: When Change Is Good and CX Gurus Are Great

If you’re like me, you can remember a time before handheld computers and speaker-phone watches. In fact, I remember the progression of mobile phones like it was yesterday. The lucky elite had their 6” thick brick phone while the rest of us still relied on our equally clunky, numeric pagers. Then came the early days of the more accessible and portable cell phone — when simple advances, like having a phone you could flip open, were met with awe. But it was still just a phone — and all it could do was make calls.

Then along came the smartphone. While still uncertain of its true potential, the early adopters jumped in with both feet. Smartphones tested and broke the boundaries of communication as we had known it. Suddenly, our phones, pagers and computers were combined into a single device. And rather than lugging around a briefcase full of heavy, personal hardware — poof! It was all in the palm of our hands.

But what about those who weren’t early adopters? What about the laggards like me?

We wanted to watch and wait – to make sure the smartphone wouldn’t disappear like the beta cassette, word processor or floppy disk. With that uncertainty looming, many of us continued to cling to our separate devices – phone, pager and 20-pound laptop – because it was what we knew. It was comfortable, and it was “good enough.”

But when is “good enough” no longer ok?

For me, it was when I started to see others besides the early adopters begin to convert, and I soon realized that a smartphone was the only way I could do certain things or communicate in new ways, like texting. Though my old set of devices had served me well, they could no longer compete. They had reached their limits and it was time to move on.

As we all know, history does tend to repeat itself and these patterns are nothing new. While shiny, new technology can be enticing, there’s always that voice in the back of your mind urging caution. That is, until the technology has been around long enough to prove its market viability and becomes widely adopted.

Today, anyone in a role directly or even peripherally interested in customer service is seeing a similar trend happening at an accelerated rate. Customer experience technology innovation is advancing more rapidly than ever before. And, while many out there have clung to the legacy, on-premises hardware they’ve trusted and relied on for decades, it’s becoming clearer every day that old, antiquated call center systems are today’s version of the brick phone. For a long time, they were “good enough.” But now, in the era of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, customer journey mapping and new, digital channels, customer behavior is showing that the old way isn’t good enough. They expect more.

Recognizing When It’s Time for a Change

No one is more attuned to changing customer needs than ATB Financial. A regional bank in Alberta, Canada, ATB was first established in 1938 and has weathered many financial storms since then. It does so by continuing to evolve its business — and its purpose.

“As a purpose-driven organization, we are customer-obsessed. We truly believe that, by enabling our people with the right tools, knowledge, and process, we can create an optimal work environment where they can deliver great experiences to our customers,”
— David Bradshaw, Vice President, Customer Care at ATB.

As with many industries in today’s global and increasingly competitive marketplace, differentiation is key. And the financial services industry is definitely no exception. And because customer service is so fundamental to the ATB mission, it recognized that legacy call center limitations were holding it back.

“We had some old legacy systems that were in need of an upgrade. We were facing some challenges with the connection between them and had data from each that conflicted with one another. We also really wanted the ability to map our customer journey from end to end and provide that seamless experience. We just weren’t able to do that with our old systems.”
Erin Ramcoomar, Senior Leader, Technology Enablement at ATB

ATB experienced challenges with:

  • Tracking and measuring customer experience KPIs
  • Managing disparate systems
  • Operating siloed channels

“If you’re going to wait until you’re 100% ready, then you’re never going to be ready. So we decided to dive in. And migrating from our legacy systems gave us a really great opportunity to reimagine the way we did things.” Erin Ramcoomar,

ATB knew a like-for-like replacement wasn’t going to provide the new functionality they wanted. So, what they really needed was to up-level their customer experience technology. Trading that old flip phone in for something more dynamic and agile would eliminate the rigid boundaries of an outdated, disconnected device. And, after evaluating all potential options, the company decided that only a cloud-based solution would deliver the connected and seamless customer experiences they wanted. It also made good financial sense.

“Historically, when you look at capital investment and where you spend your money, a lot of it is spent on the maintenance and upkeep — just to keep the lights on. A heavy amount of resourcing and funding had been going toward just keeping our legacy systems alive. But with a cloud platform, we can now reinvest those same resources — that time, energy and money — into focusing on innovation and actually making a difference for our customers.”
– Dwayne Calder, Managing Director, Insight & Enablement at ATB


Taking the Leap — Without Business Taking a Hit

Because banking is a 24/7 business, it was critical that the transition was seamless — with no downtime. ATB didn’t want customers to know they were changing systems.

“It was crucial for us that nothing changed for our customers when we flipped that switch, and they would still be able to reach us in a way that’s arguably better than the day before. We didn’t want our customers to feel any of that pain,” –
– Dwayne Calder

But that wasn’t the only concern. Beyond executing a smooth technical transition, ATB also realized that managing change within the organization — at the employee level — was another essential component for achieving their transition goals.


Inspiring Change at the Agent Level with Genesys Gurus

New technology can only be effective if it’s used correctly. For ATB that came down to involving front-line employees as a key stakeholder group. So they had a unique idea: Identify a small group of agents to participate in the solution testing and then act as internal advocates to help their peers understand how to use and adopt the new technology. The concept of “Genesys Gurus” was born.

“It wasn’t a hard sell to our agent team members that it was time to move off our clunky legacy systems because they really didn’t talk to each other and it wasn’t a very good experience at the agent level either. But what I was really worried about was the change management adoption, since we were changing the entire way that they did their job. We recruited our front-line team members who were managing real customer interactions to get early access to our system. We called them our Genesys gurus.”  
— Erin Ramcoomar

With early access to the test system, Genesys Gurus answered test calls and identified gaps that ATB never would have found otherwise. Plus, they created a sense of excitement at the agent level that spread to their peers. And that inspired adoption from the ground-up, rather than the top down.

“It was an exciting time! The implementation went really well. We didn’t experience any downtime and our agent team members were instantly able to do everything in one space — especially our omnichannel agents who previously had to log into different systems for chat, voice, and email. Logging into one place has been a huge time saver for them,”
Erin Ramcoomar

A Whole New Way of Engaging Customers, Both Today and Tomorrow

Today, connected channels and customer insights at ATB help the bank deliver the effortless and seamless experiences that make a difference in customers’ lives.

“We now have more insights at our fingertips than we could have ever imagined. We can see our customers’ history — when they’ve engaged us, who helped them, on any channel. We can see their entire journey and that’s something we didn’t have visibility into before. One of the biggest keys to our success has been the ability to measure and manage our business at a whole different level,”
— Dwayne Calder

And the ATB vision doesn’t stop there. The company continues to look to the future for innovative ways to help its customers — a process that will be far simpler with its new, more dynamic cloud deployment model.

“What’s really great about a cloud platform is that, when you want something new, it’s relatively easy to just turn it on and expand on what you already have. And, when you look at innovation, Genesys is doing some really cool things that other vendors aren’t.”
— Erin Ramcoomar

That wasn’t the only reason ATB chose Genesys. With so many contact center providers claiming to deliver an omnichannel, cloud customer experience platform, it can be tough to choose one. But that was not the case for ATB.

“We could have gone with any vendor or solution we wanted. But Genesys has over 11,000 customers, so there is a wealth of knowledge there. We also didn’t want just a vendor, but rather a partner that understood our vision and strategy. And, in turn, it was important that we understood theirs and that we could walk in lockstep to deliver great experience to Albertans.”
— Dwayne Calder

Having helped hundreds of other organizations transform their contact centers, Genesys also provides valuable business insights and industry-specific best practices. This helped ATB take its new customer experience technology live within six months, establish a deep understanding of the Genesys platform and learn how to continuously to optimize it.

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Reimagine Customer Engagement

In the earlier days, mobile phone advancements occurred at a steady pace until the curve steepened, and innovation took off. Now, few of us can remember a time before texting, Bluetooth and WiFi.

Similarly, today’s customer experience environment of apps, bots and machine learning has rapidly made the old, inflexible “good enough” call center systems a dying breed. Suddenly, there’s something better — without limitations — that’s built for a future with endless possibilities. And ATB is taking bold steps to ensure it’s on the right side of disruption in the banking industry.

“As banking becomes increasingly commoditized, the financial industry is ready for change. Customers no longer need banks; they need banking. And we are going to differentiate ATB by delivering the innovation and hyper-personalized experiences they’re looking for.”
— Dwayne Calder

If you’re ready to say goodbye to your old, inflexible, legacy system, take the first step with this simple checklist.