Bendigo and Adelaide Bank invests in real-time personalised interactions with customers

Banking group deploys IBM Marketing, Watson and IBM Interact to improve its marketing execution capabilities and deliver real-time, personalised interactions with customers


Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has stepped up its customer-centric technology investments another significant notch, deploying IBM’s Campaign, Watson Campaign Automation and IBM Interact tools in a bid to improve real-time interactions with customers.

The banking group has spent the last few years building out and uniting its customer data insights and proactive voice-of-customer capabilities. It’s also rolling out a customer-oriented metrics framework to help all staff better understand their input into experience delivery.

Bendigo’s head of customer voice, Ian Jackman, told CMO that as work evolved, the team recognised a gap in execution and a need for more capability to better recognise and interact with customers across any device at any time, and in a way of their choosing.

“We’ve spent a lot of time internally telling the story around being customer connected, and what that means from a customer expectation perspective,” he said. “That is about omni-channel, seamless and integrated personalised interactions, the ability to follow their own journeys and allowing customers to choose the way they interact with us, rather than dictate the journey to them.

“But last year, we realised we needed to improve our capability in that space. We needed to bring channels together. We have fantastic foundations in place, now we need to actively leverage them.”

A key component was technology platforms, he said. But Bendigo has spent an equal amount of time on business capability, and the people and structure around that.

“Technology is clearly part of that, but how we leverage our people skills wrapping around that are crucial,” Jackman said.

In December 2016, Jackman and his team secured the commitment of executives for further technology and skills investment and signed on with IBM. Between January and June, Bendigo rolled out IBM Campaign, Watson Campaign Automation and IBM Interact. The group had already deployed IBM’s Cloud Platform last year to build, test and deploy products and services based on customer needs.

The latest platform investment is about personalising marketing programs, tailoring interactions and matching interactions against a customer’s preferred channels, whether they’re digital or in-store. Bendigo has 1.6 million customers nationally.

To help, the organisation has partnered with consulting giant, KPMG, and its 49x division, to bring in suitable expertise. Jackman highlighted the importance of a collaborative working ethic and shared outcomes.

“We could see we had these fantastic assets in place that needed to be brought together, and that we needed to do that differently,” he continued. “Hence it became a business-led project initiative that embedded a lot of principles in agile that the organisation is shifting and transforming towards progressively.”

What customer-led marketing looks like

After six months, Bendigo has launched four event-based triggers in market and a revised operating model to help leverage the new execution capabilities.

“We got ourselves to a start point by putting this foundation capability in. I’m really proud of the teams and partners and with what we have achieved in six months,” Jackman said. “It is significant effort – the technology rollout, digital and data capability, along with the structural operating process. But we also recognise what we have now is a capability we need to start using effectively. The benefit, returns, value and customer experience will come from how we leverage it and what we choose to do with it.”

The initial focus is on outbound interaction, and automating and integrating email, SMS, mobile and direct mail. Over the next quarter, the team then hopes to integrate with Bendigo’s CRM platform for outbound phone calls. By the end of the year, Jackman hoped to also have Web and social up and running.

“In the next 6-12 months, we want to get to real-time personalisation on inbound,” he said. All of this new marketing capability is leveraging Bendigo’s previous investment into uniting its customer data layer.

The first four event-driven triggers demonstrate the new experiences that can be driven across each channel and different experiences, Jackman said. However, through the process of rolling out the technology, the team identified a backlog of 150 opportunities to interact with customers better.

“The process now is how we assess and prioritise things in the interest of customer experience, business strategy and other factors we need to take into consideration,” he said.

Alongside the tech, Bendigo invested further into customer journey mapping to better gauge what customer needs individuals are trying to fulfil as they engage with the bank, and how to address them.

“We are one of a number of players in that journey, so one thing is where else we can support them in that entire journey. That may have nothing to do with what we offer in terms of products and solutions, but is just something they need,” Jackman said. “The mapping will help us remain customer led. Then with the points where we interact, communicate and engage with them, we now have platform to automate, rules around that and can manage the process more coherently.”

The aim is cohesive and holistic management of customer interactions and the experiences Bendigo is creating, rather than launching more campaigns, Jackman said.

“This is more about services and experience than sales. If you put the words marketing and campaign in that discussion, it enforces a traditional mindset of mass send outs of campaigns to achieve sales outcomes,” he claimed. “We’re trying to avoid that and make sure we’re focused on managing relevant experiences with the customer.”

Importantly, the tools automate a range of highly manual processes for the marketing and customer functions that were creating a bottleneck, providing significant returns in terms of efficiency while also putting in place better control mechanisms that mitigate the risk of siloed and mixed-message communications.

“We want to move into a more agile marketing environment, where we every month we are rolling new triggers in, we’re refining what’s out there and removing things where they’re not delivering the outcomes we thought they might. It’s that test and learn mentality,” Jackman added.  

Skills mix

Any technology deployment of this scale will trigger team restructures, and Jackman agreed the skills mix and team alignment faces ongoing change at Bendigo. One recent decision he made was breaking out customer analytics as a separate function. This previously sat within the customer insights team.

Another has been creating a direct engagement function with a dedicated role to lead that. “We used to have a more traditional function around outbound marketing, that’s shifted to now be the custodian of the execution layer and outbound,” Jackman explained.  

“To do that, we had to take current people on a journey, look where we had gaps and fill them. We still have to fill the gaps, have to keep shifting people, and it’s a teething stage as we’re still relying on partners still. But we want to be more self-sufficient.

“The level of change required can’t be underestimated,” he said. “Putting in technology is only part of the picture.”

The operating model put in place, meanwhile, encourages a test-and-learn approach and agile marketing and extends to services and sales as well. To help, Jackman worked closely with Bendigo’s business enablement division, which has been put in charge of shifting the whole organisation to a new way of working, adopting Agile principles for delivery.

The other challenge is managing the priority list and what to say to customers. Jackman said Bendigo is setting up a business stakeholder group to help facilitate that process, and to ensure interactions are consistent and oriented around customer need.

“That will provide a level of governance of what is going out, keeps the customer in mind and ensure it fits against those experiences,” he said.

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