Vantis plans to amp up ATM services with video kiosks

A credit union in Manitoba is poised to become the first in Canada to offer video kiosks at ATM sites for banking transactions with live service reps.

Vantis Credit Union is testing a call centre solution from Nortel that will allow members to complete transactions at kiosks that previously required a branch visit. Vantis has already done internal demos and will start beta testing in April. It plans to offer services over video kiosks in the September/October timeframe, and in about a year it will be live on the Internet.

Vantis serves 22,000 members through six branches in Winnipeg and two rural branches in northern Manitoba. The credit union was looking to become more “customer intimate” and reach members in rural locations.

It also wanted to reach the youth market. “We felt that by introducing this type of technology, we’d have a heads-up on that,” said Michel Audette, president and CEO of Vantis. “We (also) wanted to reduce our costs and this technology will allow us to do that, especially for our branches up north.”

Rather than having experts in rural locations, Vantis will be able to provide banking services — such as mortgage applications — through video kiosks and over the Web. Loan and investment advisors, for example, can be available to the contact centre across branch locations to minimize wait times that might otherwise result in abandoned calls.

The Expert Anywhere Contact Solution from Nortel is a SIP-based multimedia system that allows for video, instant messaging and Web collaboration. SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is a signalling protocol for Internet conferencing, telephony, events notification and instant messaging.

“Contact centre software and capabilities have been out there for a long time,” said Roxann Swanson, vice-president and general manager of multimedia applications with Nortel. But these capabilities are evolving as customers expect better service. Customers are no longer satisfied making a phone call, only to be put on hold, get transferred around to different departments and speak to a number of agents before they get help.

Nortel worked with Vantis to build a business case for the technology, which hasn’t been rolled out by any other company to date. “This wasn’t just a replacement of a current process — this was actually restructuring their process,” said Swanson. “It’s marrying your call centre strategy with your Web strategy, and how you want to present yourself to your customer base.”

A client will be able to talk to a Vantis rep over a video kiosk or on the Web; similarly, a rep could push a mortgage application to a client in the same way. “There’s more of a personal touch without going to an actual branch location,” she said, “so it takes their ATM infrastructure and gives it a higher level of customer service.”

As part of this process, Vantis is revamping its back-end infrastructure and rolling out applications such as document imaging and content management. “Right now we’re burdened down with a bunch of paper,” said Audette. “We can streamline that and reduce our costs there.”

Internal processes are being restructured to provide accessibility to members’ files from any branch or outlet. “We’re doing a study now on what type of flow we want with our documentation and who has access to it,” he said, “so it’s changing that part of our business.”

A typical call centre has service reps that sit at the contact centre and are available all the time. “Basically this concept is to extend the capabilities of the contact centre out to experts who don’t typically sit or don’t want to sit within a contact centre environment,” said Swanson. “They become a kind of virtual member of the contact centre environment.”

The idea is to not only provide video kiosk capabilities, but to start using SIP as a way of integrating different forms of communication, including instant messaging and Web collaboration. SIP, which is standards-oriented, allows any device to be recognized by the network and deal with its content. “People are calling from and using different devices,” said Swanson. “There’s no longer caller ID that you can capture – sometimes it’s an IP address – and you need to be able to deal with all those situations and know who you’re talking to because you still want to gather intelligence.”

The Expert Anywhere Contact Solution is part of Nortel’s Application Center, a SIP-based suite of multimedia applications, including Contact Center 6.0, Multimedia Communication Server 5100 and the Communication Server 1000 IP PBX platforms.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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