CI Financial

CI Financial Overhauls Call Center, Gains Data Insights in Minutes Using AWS


Global investment and wealth management firm CI Financial (CI) wanted to improve customer service, optimize business performance, and promote company-wide growth through the acquisition of new clients. It had been using a local cloud-based communications company that provided adequate service for CI’s telephony—the reception and routing of incoming calls—but lacked the ability to collect and analyze data generated by contact center interactions. CI had already been building its data lake using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and decided to use AWS architecture for its transformation. In just 6 months, CI migrated nearly 400 agents from its legacy system to Amazon Connect, a simple-to-use omnichannel cloud contact center that helped CI transform the customer experience and streamline business processes while saving money.


We’ve taken our call center operations from laggard to leader in a very short time. We have a prime opportunity to push the industry forward because of the flexibility and ease of implementation of Amazon Connect.”

Lisa Running 
Vice President of Client Services, CI Financial

Finding a Partner to Facilitate Innovation in the Cloud

Based in Toronto, CI provides wealth management and investment management products and services that are focused on direct sellers as well as consumers. Its four business areas—sales, service, operations, and information technology—operate as disparate units, each with different requirements. Using CI’s previous telephony service, agents were having trouble obtaining needed information for clients and aligning information with callers. Upgrades were time consuming, and the inability to collect and analyze data in near real time frustrated advisors, diminished the customer experience, and required CI to hire outside vendors for custom reports. Changes to the technology design in response to caller behaviors, known as interactive voice response (IVR), took weeks, thus limiting business effectiveness. CI identified three areas it wanted to address: improvement of its customer experience through customer satisfaction metrics, development of a better understanding of the needs of current and potential clients, and the need to replace its legacy telephony system.

An important consideration for CI was the ability of any new solution to work seamlessly with tools that CI was already using. The company had been building its data lake on AWS and was also using the Salesforce Service Cloud, which helps companies streamline their customer relationship management by providing a single, shared view of a customer across all departments. As part of its search for a comprehensive solution, CI representatives attended a boot camp held by VoiceFoundry, an AWS Advanced Partner that specializes in the design and delivery of Amazon Connect, which helps businesses provide superior customer service while paying only for what they use. “It was a clear choice for us because we realized that AWS checked so many boxes,” says Lisa Running, CI’s vice president of client services. “We as an organization began to transform more broadly, beyond just service. We could feel a powerful shift in our business.”

Building a Transformative Solution on AWS

Together, CI and VoiceFoundry created a solution on AWS that completely revamped CI’s IVR in 6 months, a project that typically would have taken years and cost millions of dollars. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced employees to work from home, a lean management team was able to train nearly 400 employees using e-modules. “The intuitiveness helped shorten the training time,” Running says. “That tells you that you’ve got the right solution.”

CI was able to reduce its IVR change management process time from 2.5 weeks to just 5 minutes because the company can now receive customer feedback and understand the sentiment of callers by correlating customer satisfaction with metrics such as call duration and hold time as well as with customers’ spoken words in calls. To help gather analytics and apply them rapidly to make changes, the company uses Amazon Polly, a service that turns text into lifelike speech and helps companies create new applications that talk. The company cut overall IVR duration by 33 percent, and organizational leaders who previously took up to 8 hours to investigate calls can now resolve customer support inquiries in just 30–45 minutes with greater confidence. CI has improved the call agent experience by automating many tedious tasks, facilitating 30 percent faster queue times. For example, whereas CI previously had to authenticate callers through a verbal process, it authenticated more than 98,000 users through an automatic process in the first 8 months of 2021. Plus, it can now use Amazon Connect to automatically feed its data lake with information from the call center instead of having to log information by hand. “Amazon Connect is multifaceted,” says Nygel Weishar, director of service enablement for CI. “We can really tailor it to the needs of our business.”

VoiceFoundry helped consolidate CI’s different business segments into one manageable arrangement in the cloud, aligning the cost structures of each business unit through the same integration point. Previously, CI had access only to historical financial data that had to be researched manually. But using Amazon Connect, CI now can generate financial reports in near real time across teams. CI’s customers also benefit because CI now can prioritize them and direct them quickly to the correct agent, enhancing call flow. “Being able to connect and visualize all those different data sources was pretty big,” says Ushanthan Ratnasabapathy, CI’s manager of service initiatives and platforms. “Plus, the flexibility of Amazon Connect helped us build each of our four business units the solutions they were looking for.”

Gaining Further Insights through Machine Learning on Amazon Connect

CI plans to continue to build a complete understanding of calls across the enterprise through the use of Contact Lens for Amazon Connect, which uses machine learning to understand the sentiment and trends of customer conversations to identify crucial company and product feedback. “We’re just beginning to scratch the surface and the capabilities of Amazon Connect,” says Running. The company also intends to use Amazon Connect to optimize its routing profiles—how it distributes calls to agents—and to transform the segmentation of its services to clients and advisors who use the call center. “We’ve taken our call center operations from laggard to leader in a very short time,” Running says. “To go from zero to fully implemented across four businesses in the company—at a time when we were all remote—is astounding. We have a prime opportunity to push the industry forward because of the flexibility and ease of implementation of Amazon Connect.”

About CI Financial

Toronto-based CI Financial offers global wealth management and asset management advisory services. Founded in 1965, the company currently has more than $300 billion in assets under management and advisement.

Benefits of AWS

  • Cut IVR change management from 2.5 weeks to 5 minutes
  • Shortened IVR duration by 33%
  • Automatically authenticated 98,000+ users in 8 months
  • Sped up queue time by 30%
  • Applied near-real-time analytics to telephony operations
  • Cut customer support investigation time from 8 hours to 30–45 minutes
  • Migrated nearly 400 agents in 6 months

AWS Services Used

Amazon Connect

Amazon Connect is an easy to use omnichannel cloud contact center that helps companies provide superior customer service at a lower cost.

Amazon Polly

Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing you to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products.

Contact Lens for Amazon Connect

Contact Lens for Amazon Connect is a set of machine learning (ML) capabilities integrated into Amazon Connect. With Contact Lens, contact center supervisors can better understand the sentiment, trends, and compliance of customer conversations to effectively train agents, replicate successful interactions, and identify crucial company and product feedback.

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