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Thursday September 24, 2009

EPF online and e-services

Recognising the critical role of IT to enhance efficiency in customer care, EPF is now able to keep up with the demands of 12 million members.

As one of the most visible front line government agencies in the country, the number of members to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) have been steadily increasing over the years.

This in turn resulted in queues and waiting periods for the members that pour through its doors day in and day out.

To solve this problem, EPF has introduced online and electronic services to reduce its dependence on counter services which tend to encourage queues.

Zainol: ‘We need to progress to more sophhisticated and convenient channels for our members.’

Employee Provident Fund chief executive officer Tan Sri Azlan Zainol said EPF online and electronic services were first introduced in 2004 as part of efforts to continuously enhance service delivery to benefit their members.

“The EPF recognises the critical role IT (information technology) plays to enhance efficiency in our customer care in order to enable us to keep up with the demands of our 12 million members.

“We need to progress from providing our services merely through traditional brick and mortar channels which is costly and jump on to more sophisticated and convenient channels to enhance members’ accessibility.

“This is in keeping with the EPF service mission of offering members service ‘anywhere, anytime, anyhow’,” he said in an interview.

Azlan said that the queues at EPF counters have dropped significantly since the introduction of services such as i-Akaun and the Smart Kiosk.

“These services are especially for members who wish to perform rudimentary transactions such as checking EPF account statements but who are too busy to visit our counters.

“By having online services, our queues at EPF counters have reduced significantly, allowing visitors at the counters to enjoy more comfort in terms of shorter waiting time and improved service by our customer service personnel,” said Azlan.

Using i-Akaun, members are able to view their own EPF account anytime at a place of their convenience. They can check their statements as frequently as they want to ensure that nothing is amiss with their accounts.

“This service helps members play the important role of making sure that their contributions are paid on time for use during their retirement,” he said.

Another facility provided by the EPF is the Smart Kiosk, a self-service electronic kiosk offering members the convenience of retrieving their latest account statements in less than a minute.

“All that is required is a member’s MyKad and thumbprint identification. In addition, members can also obtain their i-Akaun password via Smart Kiosk,” Azlan said, adding that the services of both facilities come at no charge.

He added that currently, a total number of 141 Smart Kiosks have been in operations at EPF branches nationwide while 62 kiosks are at premises outside the EPF such as at selected branches of RHB Bank, RHB Islamic Bank, Ambank, CIMB Bank, Citibank and Public Bank.

But for members who are wary of the dangers of using online services, EPF’s service secured electronically with confidentiality and data security a top priority.

“As an organisation that deploys IT in the pursuit of service excellence for the benefit of its 12 million members, it is critical that information integrity, confidentiality and security remain a top priority.

“So yes, our Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) has been awarded the ISO/IEC 27001 certification for demonstrating its compliance to stringent international standards for security management, giving members the assurance that members’ data and confidentiality are highly protected,” he said.

So far, EPF members have taken to using its online and electronic services tremendously, affirming EPF’s strategy in integrating ICT in their service delivery channels, according to Azlan.

“In 2008, a total of 9.2 million members have resorted to these channels to conduct EPF transactions compared to 6.8 million members who dealt via EPF counters.

“These e-channels have in fact been instrumental in addressing the significant growth in customer interactions with the EPF in recent years, enhancing service delivery levels and enabling the EPF to communicate its messages to members effectively,” he said.

In 2006, 50% of members printed their statements through Smart Kiosks. Between January to June this year, this percentage has increased to 72%.

The Smart Kiosk recorded an average of 16,000 transactions per day. i-Akaun has reached 7,000 per day.

“With a combination of 23,000 transactions per day diverted to the electronic channels, the time saved at the counters can be used by front liners to focus on more demanding transactions.

“Simple transactions like statement viewing and printing, viewing of withdrawal status and others can be performed online at the comfort and convenience of the members and employers,” he said.

To help the public get familiar with the EPF’s online and electronic services, a Call Management Centre (CMC) was set up to be an integrated call centre that provides a one-stop point for customers to receive professional, consistent and effective feedback on their phone and electronic enquiries.

“The recent upgrading of the CMC has also enabled the EPF office to track each customer’s interaction with EPF either via counter or phone calls to CMC or e-mail enquiries.

“By responding to all telephone enquiries from EPF customers, the CMC allows the functional departments within the EPF to focus on their core activities effectively thus enhancing organisational efficiency.

“In addition, the call centre provides an alternative channel to disseminate the latest information on the EPF that have been published through the mass media,” he said.

The CMC was initially limited to handling phone enquiries only.

Following the upgrading exercise which commenced in August 2008 and completed this year, the centre now also manages electronic enquiries which members of the public can access via myEPF website, or http://enquiry.kwsp.gov.my to post their enquiries and feedback.

The CMC can also be reached at 03 – 8922 6000. The Customer Service Agents are available to answer calls from 7.30 am to 7.30 pm from Monday to Friday.

“As an organisation that is customer-focused, we will strengthen our operational efficiency particularly at all touch points where we deal with the public.

“We intend to raise the bar of our service delivery by focusing on enhancing our operational efficiency and customer service so as to ensure that members will have a smooth experience when dealing with us.

“Basically, we want to assure our members that the services they get are world class and that we benchmark ourselves against international standards,” Azlan said.

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