How proactive chat and a digital overhaul is helping this financial services company convert customers

Australian financial institution shares its story of a digital services overhaul aimed at making digital channels as proactive as physical branches

Taking the same proactive, customer-led approach to digital engagement as that offered through its physical bank branches is seeing Credit Union Australia (CUA) transform its website experience.

The financial institution’s head of digital, Paul Cahill, said a core banking systems refresh a few years ago provided the foundational capability for CUA to not only offer more customer-friendly products, but also have consistent conversations regardless of which channel customers came through.

CUA has been around for over 70 years as a customer-owned organisation and services 435,000 customers with 900 employees and 59 branches.

Having put in the core systems, the company began trying to unpack what was a very siloed approach to customer engagement, he told CMO.

“We have the website, social presence, contact centres, branches but there was no cross-pollination, and no sharing of customer journey across the various channels,” he said. “We had our core new banking system, but our entry channels for customers were still siloed.”

Cahill noted growing investment into digital marketing and more effective investment industry-wide in digital and search channels. This, along with rising numbers of customers online, made finding a better way of proactive engaging with customer an imperative. He also noted that while CUA had up to 15,000 visitors online per day, very few Web customers were clicking through to buy.

“Between 35 to 40 per cent of all transactions are researched online before a decision is made. If we had a branch that had that much traffic and wasn’t talking to customers, it would be horrendous, we’d be a Current Affairs story,” Cahill said. “It is frustrating to go to a website and get stuck on answering your question, and no matter how much we try and personalise our websites, it’s impossible to get to 100 per cent.”

To address this, CUA adopted Genesys’ Proactive Chat platform, opening up a proactive chat facility on its website. This was complemented with an investment into Genesys Workspace desktop, which provides a single agent desktop for all interactions to give employees the full context of a customer’s experience with the group.

Customers browsing a product page will see a box pop up on the side of the screen, which can be used to interact with CUA customer services staff. These employees rotate across voice, email services and Web chat support.

“We try and keep that customer service and sales training consistent. It shouldn’t be about the channel, but about how customers want to interact with CUA and those conversations,” Cahill said.

CUA has been a Genesys customer for its contact centre technology for several years, and Cahill said it made sense to keep all customer communications on the same vendor technology stack.

“This gives you better interoperability, better storage for data and information, and agents can see the customers coming into the Omnichannel Desktop, look at their journey and where they touched us across all communication channels,” he explained. “No vendors are fighting each other on where the hand off is in the platforms.”

Building a customer view of digital

Investing in a new online chat platform is just the latest in a range of initiatives for CUA aimed at providing customers with more online self-service capabilities online, while also offering a more service and support presence in online channels.

In February, the banking group launched its new website based on months of researching understand customer journeys through data and co-creation. This human-centred and agile design approach has already seen bounce rates halve, triggered a rise in organic and search traffic, and an increase in customer inquiries, Cahill said.

Customer insights work is shared, with marketing covering a lot of the segmentation research, and an insights team investing customer behaviour across the business. CUA’s digital experience team also offers up its share of engagement and survey data and works with customers, in situ, on how they use and research technology, Cahill said.

At this stage, Web chat is limited to CUA’s lending products portfolio, the first cab off the rank in terms of improving the group’s Web presence. However, there are plans to extend it across the wider website once learnings into customer journeys have been rolled out across all product areas. This includes extending Web chat across all health and general insurance products, customer support, careers pages and FAQs.

Cahill also flagged the opportunity to bring proactive chat into logged-in service channels, such as online banking. Currently, CUA uses SecureMail for questions, which doesn’t provide immediacy or seamless interaction to customers.

“We’re also only now starting to get into the data analytics, they are yet for us to discover,” he continued. “We expected this to be a strong service channel, providing information to customers so they’re not struggling to find what they want. But we’re actually also seeing sales coming through and people prepared to move to the ‘buy’ stage. It’s happening quicker than we anticipated.”

To date, more than 10 per cent of customers online have accepted the proactive chat option, or about 140,000 offers, a statistic Cahill said was really encouraging for CUA. Website chat rates also increased from 1 per cent when visitor initiated, to 4 per cent through proactive chat management. The company claims 33 per cent of chat participants have converted to genuine sales leads, 2 per cent more than voice.

It’s also generated thousands of qualified leads referred to home or personal loan specialists. At time of writing, CUA was not originating home loans completely online, but personal home loans were converting through from Web chat.

“Through our customer learning exercises, we know they don’t want to stay in one channel necessarily, they want to be able to do what’s comfortable for them,” Cahill commented. “Our job is to facilitate that relationship if we want to stay in business.”

Cahill added driving customer engagement and innovation utilising digital isn’t just the responsibility of the digital team, but needs to form part of all functions across the business.

“All of this is a collaborative, whole of business effort,” he said. “Customers are digital as well as in digital. This means digital is not a mutually exclusive space, it touches every business unit. It’s a role I almost curate across the business. It’s everyone’s business.”

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