What Westpac did to make digital sales transformation BAU

Digital sales transformation director shares how it's able to more seamlessly improve experience for customers in online applications

Cross-functional teams empowered to make decisions based on what needs to change as well as customer feedback have been key to making digital sales transformation successful at Westpac.

Speaking at this week’s Salesforce World Tour in Sydney, Westpac portfolio director, Mase Arakeli, said work on an end-to-end digital transformation of the banking giant’s sales processes and banking products was aimed at building online better experience and engagement with customers. Arakeli runs the group’s digital sales transformation portfolio.

To inform any program of work, Westpac conducts a three-month customer research and testing phase looking across sales processes to understand where customers are dropping off and why. Its research found that after an application was being submitted, Westpac would lose 40-50 per cent of prospective customers.

“We delved into the reasons, which included customers simply being distracted… We also found there was ambiguity in the forms themselves, whether it was the customer communications or the form themselves, and also there were friction points preventing customers seamlessly going back into application after they dropped off, such as having to remember application reference numbers or losing where they left off and having to start from scratch,” Arakeli said. “These were real pain points.”

In response, Westpac set up a ‘customer re-engagement program’, a large undertaking spanning across the four banking groups – Westpac, St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA. This encompassed everyday banking products including credit cards, transactions and savings accounts and personal loans.

“The work involved upwards of 160 passionate people working tirelessly over 12 months to make this a success and ensure we achieved the right outcome,” Arakeli explained. “We looked across all banking products with key drop off points, and built triggers in all platforms and products. We then re-wrote and migrated all communications into Salesforce Marketing Cloud and we introduced capabilities like auto saver forms, as well as seamless re-entry of customers back into an application form.”  

In applying for products, new customers are asked to enter information about themselves, such as income, expenses; with existing customers, a lot is pre-populated. But often, as they fill in information, a consumer’s attention is pulled away for example by a phone call or family messages.

“So a few days later there’s an email waiting, which clicks through to continue app, and they’re seamlessly re-authenticated to where they left off so they can continue fill in the rest of their details on the application form, clicks, review and submit for conditional approval,” Arakeli said.   

As a result of a more seamless experience, Westpac has seen a significant decrease in customer drop-off, along with a direct 2-3 per cent increase in sales conversion rates across all products. The project is well on its way to a two-year payback, Arakeli said.

A crucial part of any program of this size is being able to seamlessly hand back to BAU teams, he said. The challenge with teams of Westpac’s size, however, is that processes can be quite cumbersome.

“We looked at our internal processes to try and react faster to our customers,” Arakeli said. “Typically, the smallest change would take between 4-6 weeks to be implemented based on our processes and tools in place. I’m happy to say we’re down to one day.”  

Key to achieving this was setting up cross-functional teams incorporating marketing, legal, risk, compliance, and digital channel product owners.

“These teams were empowered to make decisions based on what needs to change, plus customer feedback and testing,” Arakeli said. “The changes are made in Marketing Cloud and are reflected in real time.

“It’s a great result for our customers as well as for our business.”  

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