The Commonwealth Bank is moving away from product and campaign-based marketing to delivering customer journeys powered by data insights.

Enabling the shift is the bank’s investment in technology and what it refers to as its customer decision engine, which collects data in real time across all channels (web, app, branch and call centre) to generate insights to deliver the “next best conversation.”

“Yesterday we would have probably had 15.5 million calls to the decision engine from customers across all our channels,” said Andrew McMullan, General Manager, Customer Decisioning, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

“So if customers are using Netbank or if they are using the app or if they call us or if they go into the branch, every time that happens there’s a call that goes into the customer engagement engine to say ‘what’s the next best conversation for this customer?’ and we return that in under 300 milliseconds — which is pretty impressive.”

“So there’s 15.5 million opportunities every day for us to talk to our customers in a really connected way across all these channels.”

McMullan was speaking at Pegaworld in Las Vegas. CBA chose the Pega Marketing application to help understand their customers’ behaviours and goals, and to generate relevant, timely and trigger-based propositions.

The technology investment was sparked by a need to give front line staff a better understanding of customers across all channels, including digital and call centres.

“A few years ago the Commonwealth Bank identified there was a huge opportunity to help our front line. If customers came into the branch or called us we didn’t really have an effective way of giving staff really key bits of information,” McMullan said.

“We wanted to be able to help our staff on the front line better understand the moments that really mattered when a customer went into a branch or called us.”

The organisation wanted to invest in technology which would allow it to determine and deliver ‘the next best conversation’ at scale, McMullan said.

In September last year CBA rolled the system out to its branches and call centres, online banking was connected in December and the CBA mobile app was added in January 2017.

“All of the customers that use the mobile app, Netbank, call us and go into a branch, we are now having connected conversations across all those channels. We are also able to send SMS, email and direct mail. So we’ve built the connection between all of those channels for the full customer base,” McMullan said.

“It’s incredible in this day and age how much data we have on our customer and we want to use that in the right way to understand our customers. To leverage it, to talk to them across the channels, to be really relevant and personal.”

Next Steps

The focus now is on the organisational change needed to leverage the technology, McMullan said.

“Our focus over the next three to five years is to help the organisation organise itself around the technology, to set up a data function which is unbelievably focused on understanding what our customers are doing and telling us and, using that through the technology at the right moments.”

The key is to make sure the bank is thinking about customer experience and customer contact strategy “fundamentally differently.”

“If you build all this technology and do everything the way you did it on old technology you’re unlikely to get a different result,” McMullan said.

“It’s very easy for organisations around the world to tell you they are all focused on the customer and the customer is at the heart of everything they do, the hard bit is genuinely to move the organisation to make sure every decision you make is absolutely focused on the customer.”

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