Category: About Empirix

Success Story: Fortis

Fortis Ensures Call Centre Reliability and Gains €313,920 in Benefits With Empirix Hammer On-Call.

Fortis, ranked among Europe’s top financial institutions, is an international provider of banking and insurance services for personal, business, and institutional customers. The company has a market capitalization of €43 billion, and a presence in more than 50 countries.

Fortis planned to upgrade its call centre with the latest version of Cisco and IBM hardware and software. Because the call centre is central to Fortis operations, identifying vulnerabilities and assessing the potential risk in its call centre environment before deployment was a top company priority.

Fortis was looking for a pre-deployment testing solution that would ensure that the call centre would perform at the highest possible level, that its environment would be stable, that there would be no issues with portals or applications, and that the system would function properly even during peak loads.

Fortis chose Empirix Hammer On-Call to test and monitor its IVR, and to monitor the call centre environment. Working remotely, Empirix consultants developed a detailed test plan, including performance and evaluation criteria, and then leveraged Hammer technology to test Fortis’s touch-tone and speech recognition applications. Testing pinpointed a number of critical problems in the way the Fortis call centre performed under load. With Hammer On-Call, a Fortis technician was able to identify and fix the capacity and connection problems in ten minutes.

As a result, Fortis was able to upgrade and launch its call centre and ensure the highest levels of reliability. Fortis gained substantial financial benefits from the use of Hammer On-Call and the quick resolution of call centre problems. A detailed financial analysis shows that the engagement yielded a net benefit of €313,920, by ensuring that sales weren’t lost because of call centre problems, and by avoiding significant troubleshooting costs.

The Challenge: Ensure Call Centre Reliability

Fortis, ranked among Europe’s top financial institutions, is an international provider of banking and insurance services for personal, business, and institutional customers. The company has a market capitalization of €43 billion, and a presence in more than 50 countries. As the market leader in banking and insurance in the Benelux region— one of Europe’s wealthiest— Fortis serves a range of personal, business, and institutional customers with a comprehensive package of financial products and services.

Central to Fortis’s success has been the company’s strong relationship with its customers. It has a call centre that employs 200 agents divided over two sites, using Aspect’s telephony system and IBM voice response units, monitored by Cisco ICM. The call centre handles Fortis’s incoming calls, such as financial transactions, and inquiries about mortgages and insurance coverage. Call centre employees also sell new services to customers, and handle inquiries from potential customers.

Fortis planned to upgrade its call centre with the latest version of the Cisco and IBM hardware and software. Because the call centre is central to Fortis operations, identifying vulnerabilities and assessing the potential risk in its call centre environment before deployment was a top company priority.

Fortis was looking for a pre-deployment testing solution that would ensure that the call centre would perform at the highest possible level, that its environment would be stable, that there would be no issues with portals or applications, and that the system would function properly even during peak loads.

Fortis Chooses Empirix Hammer On-Call

Fortis chose Hammer On-Call to test and monitor its IVR, and to monitor the entire call centre environment. Hammer On-Call is a managed load testing service that allowed Fortis to identify scalability problems before its customers did. Hammer On-Call emulated thousands of callers to validate the real-world performance of the company’s voice applications and the underlying voice infrastructure.

Hammer On-Call is a load testing service that generates thousands of test calls that duplicate real-world operating conditions in order to find capacity bottlenecks and configuration errors. It helps ensure that voice applications and infrastructure will scale to meet a company’s performance goals and customer expectations.

Working remotely, Empirix consultants developed a detailed test plan, including performance and evaluation criteria, and then leveraged Hammer technology to test Fortis’s touch-tone and speech recognition applications. Throughout the testing and monitoring engagement, Fortis received immediate feedback on how well the voice applications and infrastructure were performing, with realtime reports and access to all performance testing data, including a log file that tracks bugs and fixes.

Testing immediately pinpointed a number of critical problems in the way the Fortis call centre performed under load. On the back-end database, too few inbound ports were open, and the system was configured to handle only four calls per second, causing serious capacity bottlenecks. In addition, if the load was exceeded and the database experienced a connection problem, the IVR would disconnect the caller. With Hammer On-Call, a Fortis technician was able to identify and fix the capacity and connection problems in 10 minutes.

The Bottom Line for Fortis

Because Hammer On-Call identified the problems before the call centre went live, Fortis was able to upgrade its call centre while ensuring the highest levels of reliability. Fortis derived many benefits from the use of Hammer On-Call. First, it was able to identify and fix problems quickly. secondly, it gained substantial financial benefit. A detailed analysis shows that the engagement yielded a net benefit of €313,920, by ensuring that sales weren’t lost because of performance problems, and by avoiding significant troubleshooting costs.

Fortis handles approximately 40,000 calls a day for its phone banking solution, and approximately 3,000 calls a day in the call centre itself. If issues had not been found and fixed before the new call centre was launched, many of those callers could have been disconnected, leading to financial problems and potentially legal issues. Customers may not have been able to complete their financial transactions, which could have led to lawsuits. Customer service representatives would not have been able to sell customers new products. some Fortis customers may have decided to sever their relationships with the bank.

If Hammer On-Call had not uncovered the problem before deployment, the problems would most likely have gone undiagnosed for weeks, because the dropped calls would have been intermittent and not easily detectable.

“An undiagnosed problem of that type could have impacted hundreds or thousands of calls, and cost the bank significant amounts of revenue if frustrated customers opted to change service providers as a result, or could not complete their financial transactions,” says Arjan Zwanenburg, Manager, Application services, Retail for Fortis.

By uncovering the problem and fixing it before deployment, Fortis saved approximately €100,000 in lost sales, with potentially greater losses due to customer churn and legal costs.

Fortis has also saved a substantial amount of money in troubleshooting costs. In a live environment, with tens of thousands of calls a day, it would have been exceedingly difficult to discover the cause of the intermittent problem. A diagnosis would likely have involved multiple technical personnel and many hours or days of diagnostic time, and may have even required Fortis to shut down its production system. If Fortis had to track down and fix the problem after deployment, instead of pre-deployment, it would have cost the company an estimated €249,280.

Fortis is building an IVR and call centre for its Belgium operations, and due to the success of Hammer On-Call, will be using the service to test its operations there before deployment.

"We were extremely pleased with the services team at Empirix, and with Hammer On-Call. As a result of their efforts, we were able to go live and offer our customers the best experience possible. We plan to use Hammer On-Call again when we launch our new call centre in Belgium."

 

- Arjan Zwanenburg Manager, Application services, Retail Fortis


 

  • Company: Fortis
  • Industry: Financial services. Fortis is an international provider of banking and insurance services to personal, business, and institutional customers.
  • Empirix Solutions: Empirix Hammer On-Call
  • Website: fortis.com

 

Fortis success story PDF

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