Digital Allows Westpac New Zealand To Talk More with Customers

  • Philip Ryan
  • March 9, 2015
  • 2

canstockphoto5078532A few years ago, Westpac New Zealand staffers had conversations with just 40% of the bank’s customers a year. Today, that figure is 94%. And the bank wants to make it all the way to 100%.

This increase in conversations was largely the work of Chief Digital Officer Simon Pomeroy, who has built his career around customer interactions. Before taking on digital at Westpace, he was in charge of customer experience at the bank, and prior to that, he worked in recruitment and loyalty at Air New Zealand.

Conversations can take place anywhere — the branch, over the phone, over text chat or email — and that’s exactly the point. Digital enhances touchpoints and convenience, and also provides relevance and data to make conversations more meaningful.

Pomeroy presented at Bank Innovation 2015 earlier this week in Seattle, and spoke about the bank’s “next best conversation” strategy, which focuses on Westpac employees talking to more often to customers — and listening more, too. The 94% of customers that speak to the bank don’t just get a quick “G’day” — they have highly focused, personalized conversations based on their relationship with the bank and with their next best action in mind.

The conversations are “omnichannel,” Pomeroy said, meaning that the customer can continue them wherever and however, without having to start over. Personalized messages to begin a next-best conversation in digital banking channels get a 65% click-through rate, Pomeroy said.

The three key aspects of the conversation strategy are:

  1. The power of unlocking data to create relevant conversations;
  2. Developing self-service capabilities and “anywhere, anytime” banking; and
  3. Use data and digital to enhance omnichannel experience.

Pomeroy also said digital saw strong conversions in the lending space, with 15% of home loan applications coming in digital and 40% of those — or 6% overall — came through mobile. With branch visits down from 20 per annum 20 years ago to around three today, digital and self-service channels are clearly crucial for the bank going forward.

Pomeroy stated it starkly: “We are diverting resources from the physical to the digital,” he told the crowd. Their re-allocation of resources meant that capital expenditure did not need to be increased to put significant funds into digital capabilities, he added.

Pomeroy showed off Westpac’s responsive design — from Smart TV to desktop to laptop to tablet to smartphone to watch — and pointed out that all devices were run off one platform.

Digital and human are not opposed for Pomeroy and Westpac, but cooperative. As Pomeroy put it, technology enables what was never possible in the brick-and-mortar world: reaching customers at the right time, exactly when they need assistance, and having highly relevant, personalized conversations.

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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2 thoughts on “Digital Allows Westpac New Zealand To Talk More with Customers

  1. Omnichannel interaction is one of the financial industry’s frequently referenced buzzwords, but with good reason. The goal of omnichannel interaction is customer engagement. With increased engagement, financial institutions (FIs) will see greater profit and increased customer acquisition and retention. What differentiates an omnichannel system is the underlying real-time technology that makes intelligent multi-channel decisions possible. FIs, like Westpac, that choose to implement this technology across all channels have given themselves a substantial competitive edge. If FIs want to increase customer acquisition and stay ahead of competitors, they must follow Westpac’s lead and employ a real-time cross-sell solution across all banking channels creating a smoother, more intelligent and profitable business model. The number of customers that Westpac is actively conversing with clearly shows the effectiveness of a solid omnichannel experience.

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