Tabcorp Enhances Personalized Interactive Voice Response with AWS


Adding Speed and Flexibility to the IVR System

Even as consumers adopt more digital forms of interaction, interactive voice response (IVR) remains relevant in omnichannel customer care. According to a McKinsey & Company report, speed and flexibility are the aspects that matter most when customers reach out to companies, no matter which channel they choose.

Tabcorp, one of Australia’s top gaming and entertainment companies, decided to update its IVR system in 2019. The company’s goals included improved responsiveness to customers, integration with digital sales channels, enhanced new product offerings, and cost reduction. While the IVR channel has been on the decline as more customers place bets via Tabcorp’s mobile app, website, and retail outlets, it is still a critical part of the company’s business for capturing the segment of the market that prefers to communicate via phone.


The [Amazon Connect] solution is integrated into our digital APIs so that we have consistency across channels and can move to a pure omnichannel experience for our customers.”

Graeme McCormick
Head of Wagering Digital, Tabcorp

Getting Closer to Customers with Improved Transparency

Tabcorp’s legacy IVR system was designed by Convai, a specialist in contact center technology and an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner. The previous legacy system was highly bespoke and built in a colocation data center to cater to the complexity of phone betting. To achieve digital transformation, Convai collaborated with the Tabcorp team, as well as the AWS Professional Services team and AWS Solutions Architects, to migrate its betting applications and deliver Amazon Connect as a cloud-based contact center solution in July 2020.

“Convai has been a strategic partner in delivering our envisioned outcome. They are experts in natural language IVR and continue to be thought leaders in this space. This will be a continued collaboration that will evolve over many years,” says Graeme McCormick, head of Wagering Digital at Tabcorp.

During the migration to the new IVR system, there was no disruption to customers’ phone-betting experience. The new system provides more open access and transparency across the organization so Tabcorp has complete traceability on all calls. Any authorized service agent can now pull up call logs and replay calls. “From an integrity and compliance perspective, it has brought us closer to the customer as we can better understand their issues in near-real time,” McCormick says.

Machine Learning Tools Accurately Process Audio

With Amazon Connect, Tabcorp can leverage a range of machine learning (ML) tools to automate and enhance the phone-betting experience. The updated IVR offers customers real-time transactions through the use of either touchtone on their phones or by simply speaking to natural language understanding technology with ML services from AWS powering complex algorithms.

The IVR solution uses Amazon Transcribe to convert speech to text when customers place bets and an advanced interpretation engine provided by Convai that accurately classifies a range of factors to automatically create a betting slip. Significant training was required to tune the system to recognize the myriad of terms, including localized slang, used in betting across all sports and race types in the 641 locations Tabcorp supports. The solution also uses Amazon Polly to repeat customers’ transaction instructions back to them. Convai was able to customize Amazon Transcribe and Amazon Polly to accurately understand and play back over 1,000 locations across 30 countries.

Saving Cost While Scaling Up

The new AWS Cloud–based solution has proven highly scalable, with 1 million bets taken in just the first six weeks after launch. The elasticity of Amazon Connect supports the extreme spikes in caller traffic typically seen in the hour prior to a major event. For instance, during the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most famous horse race, Tabcorp’s IVR system was able to handle a peak of 870 concurrent calls.

The monthly operating cost of the IVR system on Amazon Connect is much lower than that of the data center–based solution, with Tabcorp saving almost AU$2.5 million (US$2 million) per year. “Because the previous IVR was hardware-bound, we had to pay for server capacity to handle 1,000 concurrent calls even if the normal day-to-day figure was much lower,” explains McCormick. “With Amazon Connect, we pay per call, so it’s a lot more cost effective.”

Standardizing APIs across Digital Channels

One of the goals of the IVR transformation was to align the application programming interfaces (APIs) across Tabcorp’s digital channels and the IVR. In line with its internal motto, “build once, deploy to many,” Tabcorp engineers can now develop one set of APIs to be deployed across both digital and IVR channels.

“The new solution is integrated into our digital APIs so that we have consistency across channels and can move to a pure omnichannel experience for our customers,” McCormick says. “The opportunity to bring new products to our IVR customers will help keep this channel relevant and running well. Customers in this channel can now take advantage of the same betting opportunities as on our mobile app or website.”

A more granular level of data reporting is also available via Amazon CloudWatch monitoring dashboards. Product managers have been assigned to the IVR channel for the first time to review customer data as Tabcorp is now including IVR in its marketing strategy formulation. “The IVR is now embedded in and tied to the digital capability of our business as a sales channel. This allows all our future products to be easily consumable by the IVR sales channel which we can take forward and grow,” says McCormick.

Reducing Compliance Burden and Time-to-Market

As a waging enterprise, Tabcorp is subject to strict compliance reviews by Australian regulatory authorities. Before any changes or new products are introduced, regulators across seven jurisdictions review the company’s source code, test its software, and, in some cases, physically visit its head office before it is allowed to perform a release. Having one API that is used across multiple channels reduces the amount of time and effort required for regulatory reviews. Time-to-market for new products has decreased as a result.

To further safeguard Tabcorp’s employee and customer data, Convai used the AWS Well-Architected Framework when setting up Amazon Connect. “The best practices used within the AWS stack have given us a very clear and well-formulated security policy for how the system is controlled, particularly from a regulatory perspective,” says Mike Banbrook, chief executive officer of Convai.

Taking a Proactive Approach to Personalized Experiences

Conversion to a cloud-based IVR is just the beginning for Tabcorp. Together with Convai and AWS, the company has already started phase two of its project to deliver a more personalized experience to customers who opt for phone betting. Reaching out proactively to VIP customers in this segment for target events will play a role in building an enhanced customer experience.

“We’re excited to see where AWS is going to take the Amazon Connect solution and the new opportunities that may open up for us. Every time AWS adds a new feature, we evaluate how that could move us forward to make an impact for our customers,” McCormick concludes.

Learn More

To learn more, visit Amazon Connect

About Tabcorp

Tabcorp is a diversified gaming and entertainment group with a leading presence in Australia. It operates betting across 641 locations for multiple sports and race types. The company’s mission is to provide integrity and excitement in everything it does.


About Convai

Convai, a Probe Group company, specializes in creating automated intelligent conversation systems for call centers. As an AWS Advanced Technology Partner and the creator of Oration, Convai enables call centers to save costs by optimally using natural language.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduces IVR costs by $2 million a year
  • Fields 1 million IVR calls in first 6 weeks
  • Improves transparency for customer-service calls
  • Facilitates omnichannel communication strategy
  • Lessens compliance burden and ensures robust security framework
  • Accelerates time-to-market for new products
  • Scales to handle 870 concurrent calls

AWS Services Used

Amazon Connect

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

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Amazon Transcribe

Amazon Transcribe makes it easy for developers to add speech to text capabilities to their applications. Audio data is virtually impossible for computers to search and analyze.

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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.

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Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring and observability service built for DevOps engineers, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and IT managers.

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