Macquarie Bank aims for customer experience excellence with digital-first banking

Banking and finance group makes significant technological and operational investments to launch more personalised and intuitive digital services for its customers

Providing customers with a digital experience that’s as personalised and intuitive as that from Netflix or Spotify isn’t just about digital smarts and consumer insights for Macquarie Bank, it’s also about embracing agile ways of working.

Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group officially unveiled its new digital banking suite this week, offering customers a new suite of personalised and data-driven features it claims are firsts for Australian banking.

On the list is search-how-you-speak technology, also referred to as natural language search, which customers can use to search their transaction and purchase history. For example, a user can type in a query for ‘groceries purchased around $100 and around Pymble in the last month’, and the system will be able to return results from across their accounts and transaction history.

Other new features include the tagging and tracking transactions, such as those required for tax returns; uploading and attaching receipts, dockets and warranties to transaction records for bigger ticket items; one-click account set-up; and automated spending categorisation. Macquarie can also now predict a customer’s spending and cash flow based on their personal history, such as when they can next expect to be paying bills.

All of these new capabilities have been made possible thanks to significant investments over the last couple of years into a real-time core banking engine. They also come two years after the group appointed former global technology chief of European digital-first banking group BBVA, Luis Uguina, as its first chief digital officer.

Head of personal banking, Ben Perham, told CMO Macquarie Bank had spied an opportunity to take the technology being used by leading digital companies, such as Netflix and Spotify, and bring that same level of intuitive, personalised experience to banking.

“We have had the ability to build from the ground up the whole retail banking suite, and we have transaction accounts, savings, credit cards and home loans all within an innovative digital experience that delivers a number of firsts for the Australian market,” he said. “Our strategy for personal banking is to focus on customers who want to do banking digitally, providing them with an exciting and powerful set of features.

“We think of our competition in terms of customer experience as the last app you used , and what’s on the home screen of your phone.”

To achieve this level of digital excellence, digital teams “must work at the speed of now”, Perham said, borrowing a phrase from Uguina.

“To do that properly, you need to have the full architecture and tech stack for you. That’s where our new real-time core banking platform plays a critical part,” he said.

Perham pointed to the group’s use of Cassandra database management technology as one of the way it’s delivering personalised and intuitive customer experiences quickly and across huge data sets. This is also the personalisation engine used by Netflix to predict what its customers want to watch next.

Digital capability is just one important piece in a broader transformation story for Macquarie Bank, Perham said.

“It’s really about how we work as a team in an agile away,” he said. “Delivering anything in our business requires many people to be involved. That’s about building from the ground up; and it’s not just about digital customer experience at the front end, but also the technology stack sitting behind that.”

As part of its more agile operating model, Perham said teams are spending more time on customer journey mapping, understanding customer pain points and working out how to break down work into incremental chunks that can be delivered into customers’ hands to judge and refine.

“Fundamental to our approach is listening to customers, listening to their feedback and as we build things, asking them if it’s meeting their needs,” he continued. “We’re very engaged in a dialogue with them.”

Perham also pointed out Macquarie Bank is operating three environments to better iterate its products and services: A lab environment for developer work; a beta environment, which has historically only been open to staff but is now being extended to early adopter customers; and a public production environment.

All of the new features launched today are available to all Macquarie Bank customers, and Perham flagged more to come.

“We always have thing we are working on and we have a backlog in the lab of hundreds of ideas, it’s a question of prioritising these,” he added. “And doing that requires us to constantly listen to the customer.”

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