To best understand Capital One and its long-term strategy, it helps to think of the company not as a bank—despite the fact that the diversified financial services company is, in fact, one of the ten largest U.S. banks by assets and deposits—but as a digital technology company that offers banking services. At Capital One, the central motivating belief is that the winners in next-generation banking will be the companies that make the most creative and innovative use of technology to provide seamless, intelligent, truly excellent customer experiences.
That’s why Capital One has a cloud-first policy, in which all new applications are architected for and deployed in the cloud, and that’s why the company is using data analytics and machine learning to better understand customer feedback and intent.
It’s also why the company moved to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and deployed the Amazon Connect cloud-based contact center service.
Every day, Capital One receives thousands of calls from its banking customers. "Each call is a chance to live our mission of bringing simplicity, ingenuity, and humanity to banking," says Rajiv Sondhi, vice president of software engineering Capital One. "That mission is powered by our strategic use of technology."
The key word is "strategic." Although Capital One was an early leader in web and mobile banking services and was the first company to give its customers the ability to manage their financial accounts through any Amazon Alexa-enabled device, the company doesn’t do tech for tech's sake. Instead, Capital One is focused on how technology can enable it to create great customer experiences.
"Our focus is on serving customers the way they want to be served," says Sondhi. "We are constantly researching new technologies, but we know our voice channel remains crucial for many customers and situations."
Although the company’s previous-generation contact-center solution had served it well, Capital One wanted to further speed innovation by replacing it with a system that would integrate more easily with other company systems and support simpler, faster change processes. Sondhi’s team was researching possible candidates when they learned of an option, Amazon Connect, that would perfectly fit the company’s long-term goals of reducing its datacenter footprint, increasing its use of microservices, and building a more open, integrated architecture.
Amazon Connect offers crystal-clear sound quality and lets even nontechnical users easily design flows, manage agents, analyze performance metrics, and serve intuitive interactive voice response (IVR) menus. It’s also simple to integrate Amazon Connect with other tools and services, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store call recordings, Amazon Kinesis to stream metrics to data warehousing solutions like Amazon Redshift, and AWS Lambda to interact with backend systems and APIs. Speech-to-text transcription makes call content available for search and analysis by natural-language-processing tools. With no per-seat cost, Capital One only pays for Amazon Connect when its associates are taking calls.
Although Sondhi was accustomed to easy deployments on AWS, he was impressed by how simple and fast it was to first pilot and then roll out Amazon Connect. "In a proof-of-concept phase that lasted about three business days, I was able to bring Amazon Connect up, take a simple call flow, and seamlessly integrate with our CRM system," says Sondhi. "Once we started putting Amazon Connect into production, we trained hundreds of associates in just 30 minutes each and achieved 100 percent adoption for our direct bank and fraud operations in just five months. That’s more than twice as fast as prior migrations of this magnitude have taken."
For customer-obsessed Capital One, the biggest benefits of Amazon Connect are faster innovation, seamless customer experience, and ease of use. “Amazon Connect is helping us capture customer intent and provide an even more seamless, personalized customer experience,” says Jared Wall, the vice president for bank contact center channels at Capital One. “In just a few months on Amazon Connect, we’re already improving customer outcomes and overall business agility, and this is just the beginning.”
Amazon Connect makes it easier for Capital One to not only continuously strengthen and fine-tune the contact center experience but also identify customer needs across the business. "By integrating Amazon Connect with natural language processing tools, we get more insight into why customers are calling, what new features they want, how to make calls more efficient for customers, and what new customer-service tools our associates need," says Sondhi. "Inside the contact center, the flexibility of Amazon Connect lets us add new features in weeks instead of the months that our last solution required."
The ease of integrating Amazon Connect with other services and technologies helps make Capital One customer service even stronger and more flexible. "No matter which channel our customers use—our branches, Capital One Cafes, our mobile app, or a contact center—we want a seamless experience," says Sondhi. "Because Amazon Connect integrates with our larger ecosystem, our associates have the information they need to meet our customers where they are and exceed their expectations in all settings."
None of these benefits would matter, of course, if call quality were poor or if unwieldy menus prevented customers from finding fast answers, but Amazon Connect ticks these boxes with ease. "One associate told me that the call and sound quality are so much clearer than the old system that it sounds as if the customer is right next to you,” says Sondhi. “We're also hearing great feedback from customers about the time they're saving with the intuitive IVR menus and the virtual hold with callbacks."
Capital One has no concerns about scale when it extends Amazon Connect to the company's other lines of business. "We have already experienced Amazon Connect seamless scaling without manual intervention as we have doubled initial call volume. Once we deploy it companywide, Amazon Connect will be handling about 25 times the number of agents, calls, and processes that it handles trouble-free today," says Sondhi. "We have no doubt that, just like all the other AWS services we use, Amazon Connect will be able to scale up as much and as fast as we need and support continued innovation and seamless customer experiences across the entire company.”
Learn more about Amazon Connect.