Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer says the bank needs to do a better job when it comes to getting its customers to use the digital innovations they have built. 

Speaking yesterday during a panel at IBM’s Cloud Innovation Exchange in Sydney, Hartzer said the bank had introduced more than 100 new features and innovations to the Westpac app in the last year and “I’m pretty sure not many people in this room know about them”. 

“We haven’t done a good enough job of getting people to embrace the things we’ve already built,” he said. 

“One of my frustrations is how do you actually get people to use this stuff?”  

“It’s not enough to define the requirements, and to build a cool thing. You’ve actually got to really work through how are you going to sell this? How are you going to get customers to convert to this? What are the objections going to be for them in giving up what they’ve already got and moving across? And I would say we’ve often under cooked that.”  

Hartzer said Westpac’s technology investments fall into two categories: taking costs out of the company and improving the service experience, for example upgrades to mobile apps, more use of AI and personalised recommendations. 

The CEO said the bank is now working to leverage data and insights to improve experiences and deliver better customer experiences at scale. 

For example, the Red chatbot (powered by IBM Watson) which is embedded in the Westpac mobile app has done over 1 million chats in the last year and 70 per cent of the time the chatbot finds the right answer, without needing to redirect to a human agent. 

“It’s really starting to scale up and create a whole new way of delivering personalised service. The way that I kind of think about it is, we’re trying to recreate the experience of an old time bank manager, but do it using technology,” Hartzer said. 

Hartzer also noted that increased use of data required the bank to be cautious, so not to damage consumer trust, particularly when Open Banking comes into play.

“We’re very conscious as more and more of our business becomes dependent on the use of data, about being really clear on what controls we put around that and how we use data,” he said. 

“We’re going into an open banking environment in Australia, and one of the really important aspects of that is people continuing to trust that data doesn’t get misused, that their privacy is maintained. That’s a critical issue for people engaging with technology.”

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