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October 16, 2017

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The Cloud Pioneer – An Interview

Customer Case Study: The Cloud Pioneer

An Interview with Curdin Schenkel, Head of Workplace & Infrastructure, TKB

Interview by Claudia Gabler, Contact Management Magazine (Oct. 2017)

Thurgauer Kantonalbank (TKB) was one of the first banks in Switzerland to introduce a Cloud Contact Center. Pioneering innovator, Curdin Schenkel, describes the advantages and disadvantages of the paradigm shift, and how those changes have led to the bank becoming a leader in cloud services.

CMM: Mr. Schenkel, you have done pioneering work for Swiss banking with the Cloud Contact Center. How did this happen?

Curdin Schenkel: We are pursuing a best-of-breed outsourcing strategy. Together with LUKB, we were one of the first cantonal banks to establish a modern advisory center for clients, which at the time were usually still on premise. Strategically, if FINMA-compliant, we rely on cloud solutions in IT. New technical possibilities have opened up new strategy options. My task was to evaluate and implement the best solution available on the market. The prerequisite was that there were no functional losses. With this in mind, we launched a call for offers.

What were the results?

Several providers participated. For the scope of services, configuration, functionality, and price point we were looking for, Bucher + Suter, together with SPIE, were the only ones who could offer a contact center from the cloud at the time.

Did anyone vote against the idea of a cloud solution?

There was only one reason to worry: we were the first ones to try it. There was no reference project in Switzerland in the financial sector. During our evaluation, we focused on the following question: can we achieve the desired goal while complying with FINMA criteria? We were also concerned about people’s fundamental trust or mistrust of a cloud solution, especially with regard to information security. However, the safety tests were all positive. With the cloud solution, we are now even more secure.

How so?

The solution is located in two, redundant, high-security data centers in the Bucher + Suter private cloud. This gives us better operational reliability than we could have guaranteed if the solution had been set up within the canton. The consulting center is hosted by Bucher + Suter; this allows us to increase our flexibility and agility without having to worry about lifecycle management, which is regularly ensured by our partners. The fact that we have pooled our resources with the two partners also fosters further development, and creates valuable synergies.

Were there any restrictions to functionality created by the change to a cloud solution?

We would not have been prepared to compromise. After all, not only are we responsible for the project, but also for its operation.

What has changed for your customers?

Our requirement was that nothing change for our customers. And that’s just what happened: we did not suffer any restrictions or functional losses in service. In fact, we were able to continue providing all of the service we had previously. The project ran completely smoothly, without friction, and without project control intervention. The cooperation with my team and our partners Bucher + Suter and SPIE has proven itself.

Bucher + Suter is also regarded as a contact center cloud pioneer in Switzerland. Was that one of the reasons for the harmonious transition?

We decided to work together with Bucher + Suter because the company has always provided decisively innovative solutions. Another important factor was that Bucher + Suter understood our core banking system, Avaloq. SPIE provided helpful support in the Cloud Services implementation.

How did the employees react?

They too were able to continue working totally normally. The advantage is that we can flexibly switch in additional channels if required.

The Cloud Consulting Center has been in operation since the beginning of the year. What expected and possibly unexpected benefits have you observed?

We have significantly increased our agility and flexibility; this contributes to our new business strategy of better and more actively advising our customers. To this end, we have expanded our team in the consulting center. And, thanks to the licensing model we selected, this is also possible without an explosion in costs.

What would you recommend to others? When is the right time to move to the cloud?

The cloud alone does not provide good service. However, a cloud solution can simplify processes. But only if your requirements in terms of agility, flexibility, scalability, security, functionality and cost reduction provided by cloud services are met—and you find the right partner.

You don’t look like someone who rests on project success. You have certainly already planned further customer-relevant steps. Would you like to tell us more about it?

Comprehensive and targeted customer consulting is our main focus. This includes examining multi-touch and multi-channel options. Video, chat, co-browsing, and presence are some of our keywords concepts. Achieving a comprehensive understanding of the customer is already a reality today. Customer advisors can call on experts to discuss their situation, and can view the customer history independently of the touchpoint. Digitalization also offers new opportunities to exploit, which at first glance would not seem typical for banks to pursue. For example, Bexio, the accounting software for SMEs we have connected to our e-banking system, is one example of an application that we have implemented with a customer-centric approach. In this context, we try to generate added value for our customers with new solutions.

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