Axelerator’s CloudSync

Secure Customer complete facility for large Bank

By Martin Stewart | June 7th 2019

Ensuring a great customer experience from start to completion via the cloud.

The situation:

Like many banks today, this New Zealand-based financial services giant also provides a complementary range of life insurance products that can be taken out via a local branch or over the phone.

Unlike more simple general insurance solutions, these products require the collection of health information to assist with the underwriting assessment process, increasing the time it takes to complete every application.

Depending on the nature of the health questions it could take between 20-30 minutes to complete – and customers might not always find that convenient or comfortable to do in public, according to the bank’s Insurance Systems Team Leader.

“We had tried to make the process easier by offering a range of ways this could be done - in person, at home with a paper application that needed to be posted back, or via a callback from our call centre. Regardless of the method though, our completion rates were still very low, so we knew we had to do something else.”

The challenge:

“We put our heads together to see what could be done to improve the customer experience, and to make applications easier to complete. Because Axe had already helped us implement Axelerator as our new business quoting system we involved them in the discussion about how we could use current technology to make this happen.

One of the most obvious solutions – and yet also one of the most challenging - was to create a public site that would make it possible for customers to complete applications started in the Bank branch online in their own time.

This was challenging for the bank because at the time access to the new business system was only available from inside the Bank’s firewall. Providing access to customers at home seemed like it would mean opening up a potential Pandora’s Box of risk.

“We knew it was going to be a complex project – anything that involves opening up the front end is always a challenge. It meant that Axe would need to adhere to a tight set of security standards for this to satisfy the bank’s security requirements.”

The process:

While the team had a clear goal in mind, they needed to explore some potential ways forward before deciding on a final plan. As a first step they set up an agile working group, which broke the problem down and ran through security analysis before evaluating all the potential options.

“Axe were good about working with us to make sure we got the best solution. Because this meant going through our internal bank security layers, they had to work not only with our Insurance team, but with the bank-wide IT team. The solution had to conform to certain guidelines and Axe were faultless in their ability to meet these.”

The solution had to:

  • Not store any personal information.
  • Use secure tokens for logging in that had an expiry period.
  • Synchronise the applications and all related data records and documents securely to and from the cloud site to the insurance solution inside the bank.
  • Match the Axelerator code base and configuration exactly so that application synchronisation would always be successful, and no extra costs would be incurred to develop and maintain a different code base for the Cloud solution

To satisfy the tight security requirements the project proceeded methodically, testing each step separately before moving the solution into production.

Not only did it have to meet internal standards, but it had to consider the end customer too. In addition to providing a satisfying user experience and being available 24/7, it also had to meet customer expectations of security. With a growing awareness of phishing scams, customers are rightly cautious about sites that capture personal information.

“You have to do it completely right, right from the start - even if it’s just one form. Because we wanted customers to be sure they were on a bank site, Axe had to design it to meet to the bank’s code and styling exactly. It’s that combination of skill – their ability to understand the importance of customer experience and also deliver the required functionality that I appreciate.”

“The solution also had to be penetration tested, to make sure we weren’t opening the wider bank up to any risk. And as a final step we did a controlled release, opening online applications via service centre, in order to reduce call volume while we monitored the impact.”

The project ended up coming in on time and budget, delivering within 12 months from initial design to production.

The solution:

Axe worked with Rack Space to set up an environment on Amazon AWS which contained a full version of the Bank’s Axelerator system and use Axelerator’s inbuilt CloudSync module to keep it current.

The AWS environment involves:

  • an elastic load balancer to distribute user sessions over two virtual servers in different availability zones, each with a web server and an application server that contains the Axelerator solution
  • all activity being read and written to the primary database server. This is synchronised in real time with the alternate database server.
  • a fully redundant setup. Should a web server or application server fail all traffic is automatically directed to the working web and application server. If the database server fails all traffic is immediately directed to the alternate database server.
  • Rackspace and AWS dashboards that provide an immediate view of the current operations and the past performance.
  • inbuilt tools that allow Axe to quickly update the entire solution whenever there is a new release.
The benefits:

The bank immediately noticed a higher completion rate from deferred applications. The first ‘client complete’ application came though on the day the solution went live.

“The improvement over the previous method of completion on paper was dramatic. Over half were completed by the customer within a day and another 22% within two days. To put that in context, under the previous process none of the customers would have even received the paper forms in the post within this time period. Now over 60% of policies (those that do not require further information) are able to be issued in a single day.”

“We can see how significantly the faster turnaround is improving our customers’ experience. As an example, rather than taking one or two days for completed applications to arrive in the post, as soon as the client completes the application online it immediately appears in the underwriters’ inbox.

Final thoughts:

“You can’t fault the crew at Axe. They are always upfront, honest, and ready to work together. Even though this was a complex project they found a way to achieve it, including taking on extra responsibilities like liaising with our cloud solution provider while keeping me in the loop at all times.”

Whether you’re looking for an innovative platform to support business growth, you’re over capacity and need to outsource a project, or you’re in a jam and need a rapid solution, Axe is ready to support you.