Australia is on the brink of a new era in financial services; Open Banking is dawning, fintechs continue to reshape the landscape, and regulatory requirements continue to rise.
Sustained success demands efficient operation as well as fierce determination to meet, or even better, exceed customer expectations.
In order to enhance trust with its customers and meet regulatory requirements, Bank of Queensland (BOQ) has replaced a previously manual customer feedback system. The new automated solution provides greater customer clarity, allows the bank to respond rapidly to customer concerns and also make more informed product and service development decisions.
Adrian Biermann, is the Senior Manager, Group Customer Relations at BOQ, and doesn’t underestimate the power of listening. By collecting customer insights and feedback in a streamlined platform and creating new processes for frontline employees to respond rapidly, the bank is on the way to setting a new high watermark for customer service and responsiveness.
BOQ is now also collecting more detailed understanding of customer needs. It’s what the bank refers to as its “customer canvas”, a unifying view of the customer, their experience with the bank across all channels, as well as a pointer to what the future could hold.
Truly Empowered Employees
BOQ has rolled out Dynamics 365 as the foundation for its customer engagement platform. Work began in early 2017 when the bank started to explore which platforms would work best for BOQ.
Anthony Ingeri, Program Manager for the Customer Engagement Platform (CEP), notes; “We ultimately landed on the Microsoft solution. For BOQ there was a number of factors. There was one around data security. Having Australian data centres that are managing sensitive information for other well-known commercial organisations and also state and federal government agencies was really important.”
BOQ also understood the importance of Microsoft’s broad and deep partner community which could augment its capability as needed – bringing in what Ingeri describes as “kung fu” skills on demand. It worked with Avanade on the Dynamics 365 deployment, and reined in the temptation to customise the platform, recognising that could act as a brake on future agility.
The kung fu must have worked – BOQ’s initial deployment was completed in five weeks.
A further factor in Microsoft’s favour says Ingeri is that; “We like the convergence of the platforms, whether it’s Office 365, Dynamics 365, as you’re in the Power Platform. We really saw it as an optimal opportunity to improve, digitise, and automate a number of those intimate processes,” and also to evergreen the bank’s investment by providing access to Microsoft’s investment roadmap, and down the track the opportunity to leverage artificial intelligence infused across the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Biermann also believed that a trusted cloud-based solution would provide BOQ with the agility and flexibility it would need in the future, and the opportunity to integrate with a raft of other existing and emerging Microsoft services.
Today it has a platform that allows about 1,000 BOQ personnel to load customer feedback directly into Dynamics 365, while a small group in Biermann’s team can also use the case management function to deal with escalated matters. “That’s working really, really well. We’re using that case function to record interactions and schedule activities for complaints,” he says.
One thing BOQ wanted was more uniformity in the way customer feedback was collected. During the first quarter of deployment it experienced a 103 per cent increase in customer feedback – it wasn’t that consumers were more unhappy than in the past, it was instead that all their feedback was being captured.
Biermann explains; “The growth in customer feedback that we’ve been able to capture and then work towards has just been phenomenal. We’ve had month on month records in terms of customer feedback being captured and recorded. Some businesses would look at that unfavourably, to say that we’ve had an increase in customer complaints.
“What BOQ does is we celebrate that to say ‘we’re listening to our customers and we’re going to record and use that feedback’. That’s been the biggest driver.”
Besides being trained how to use the system, frontline staff are also empowered to act, or as Biermann describes it “do more and do better.”
“Not only have we backed that up with a digital solution, we’re trying to empower our people with the right level of delegation and equip them to make a decision,” he says.
Moving from a largely manual customer feedback system to the streamlined digital solution has also allowed BOQ to automate a lot of the associated workflow. For example, it has deployed automated acknowledgements to people who have logged feedback to remind them that BOQ would like them to respond to the customer concerns if they are able, while at the same time ensuring all regulatory obligations are met.
Ingeri adds; “The big game changer for us has been to have the functionality to add documents and to add activities and to add notes through the timeline feature. We have this huge opportunity to bring to life the full features of Dynamics 365, particularly in the workflow area and how it interacts with the Office 365 products.”
BOQ is now considering how it could deploy Power BI in the next three to six months to support the visualisation of the data that it is capturing to drive better insights as well as report to appropriate stakeholders in the bank.
Alert, engaged and focussed on customers
Biermann believes that the solution is influencing employees directly who are more alert to customer feedback and engaged to improve their experience where possible. “We’ve certainly seen in that uplift, there’s just no way that we could process the volume of manual customer feedback into an Access database with the resources that we had.”
The additional insight that BOQ derives from the improved collection of customer feedback also supports the bank’s product and service development.
Next on the BOQ roadmap is plans to start exploring Microsoft Azure artificial intelligence capability and particularly sentiment analysis opportunities.
This would rely on visualising the customer data through Power BI dashboards and creating an omnichannel experience for customers whether they engage with BOQ online, in a branch or through a contact centre. “So that when a customer chooses to engage with our brand, whether it be through a digital channel or a physical channel, they’re consistently getting the same experience around the information that has been supplied from staff servicing them, the conversations that they’ve had, whether it be on email, chat, face-to-face, on the phone,” says Ingeri.
“That’s really massive foundational capability. There’s a big technology change that we’re trying to deliver with that. We’re also doing a lot of re-engineering of our processes to make them consistent. Making sure our people have the right capabilities, the right training, know how to have fantastic customer conversations,” he says, adding this will roll out to up to 2,000 staff across Virgin Money, BOQ, BOQ Business and our Customer Connect. That’s a massive undertaking that we’re looking to start pilot in the next few months.”