CMO interview: Building the next vision of a mutual bank

Chief product and marketing officer for BankVic shares the strategic approach she's taking to build capability and member engagement for the new world of open banking, cloud technology, and member needs

Deirdre Boyle
Deirdre Boyle

Repositioning a growing brand, improving end-to-end customer experiences and enabling transformation are catch cries for many CMOs today. And for BankVic’s chief product and marketing officer, Deirdre Boyle, the opportunity to do all three came with the added bonus of working for a member-owned bank.

Boyle joined the mutual banking group six months ago. It’s a position that takes advantage of her strong marketing, digital and integration skills developed over more than 15 years across organisations such as AIA, Medibank Private and Westpac.

BankVic was established in the 1970s as the Police Association Credit Union serving Australia’s police force. Since then, it’s grown to incorporate multiple first-responder member segments, including emergency services, agencies and healthcare. Along with its strategic partnership with the police, BankVic now maintains key relationships with the CFA, SES, Ambulance Victoria and others and has 180 staff.

“Being part of an organisation ultimately there to serve those serving the community was very powerful,” Boyle tells CMO. “It’s about providing a genuine alternative to the majors in terms of value and service, and in the products we design specifically for those member categories.”  

What also appealed to Boyle was the opportunity to support BankVic’s next evolution by helping transform and uplift capabilities across people, processes and systems.

“The digital piece is definitely a driver for this, but also we’ve had significant growth in the last two years. As we get bigger, we need to work out how we make sure we continue to stay relevant for our communities, and that we’re ready to scale in a sustainable way,” she explains. “As a smaller organisation, we have different technology environments, a different investment profile, and all profits are for members. We need to be relevant and evolve.

“Over time, we had become a bit disconnected from our heritage as a result of growth. In March last year, as the new CEO came in, a big part of the strategy was reconnecting that heritage and re-grounding the bank in our roots.” 

Boyle’s remit encompasses member experiences end-to-end, from defining the brand and who BankVic is, what it stands for, what makes the group different, to what that means for members, employees, products and experiences. In the context of being a mutual bank as well as the Australian Royal Commission, it’s key BankVic takes the opportunity to rearticulate how it can be different for members beyond just being a good deal, she says.

“Then it’s about how to find those points of difference and connect it to the member experiences we want to deliver against,” Boyle says. “I’m looking at how we do that consistently, how it connects to our employee value proposition, and what the next iteration of BankVic in market is.”  

The place to start

Getting started for Boyle meant firstly focusing on brand vision and purpose. “It all hangs off the brand,” she says.

“What is our purpose, and how is it still relevant today? That’s our true north. From there, we can start to go in context and specifically how that purpose is meaningful for the communities we serve.”

Boyle points out first-responder communities share many similarities, not least of which include financial standing, shiftwork and the types of work environments they’re placed in. But there are distinct differences too. This influences the products and services BankVic offers, and she’s re-evaluating that mix and how it influences the member experience, the strategy required, right through to employees.

The work quickly led to an organisational restructure lining up against key priorities. It’s one Boyle says is fit-for-purpose now, but can scale to support growth and an uplift in capability as the group gets further down the transformation road. Ensuring people are clear on roles and responsibilities is vital along the way.

Then there are the capabilities gaps. Boyle has introduced a new member experience function in a standalone capacity. She’s also separated marketing and digital to recognise digital’s broader role in delivering capability and experiences across the organisation. A critical, super-tight partnership with the information technology team is another must.

“All this brings challenges around change, pace and mindset at the same time as excitement about the opportunity and future,” Boyle says. “Leading through that change and what it means for each individual is a big part of the journey so people don’t get lost along the way.”

Technology investment

There’s also lot of technology investment underway. “We had some capability, but not a sophisticated tech stack for marketing,” Boyle says.

“We didn’t have a lot of legacy, so the roadmap allows me to build a blueprint then scale. We’ve spent time building that blueprint, what we want to do, how we need to scale for the future and how technology plays a role.”

BankVic needs marketing automation for example, along with tech facilitating processes to make marketing’s job easier, such as operations, reporting, digital asset management and workflows.

“The way I approached it was to say: What do we need to look like, how do we get there and how do we build it in a scalable way,” Boyle continues. “I was fortunate my CEO thought this might be something I wanted to do, and paved the way to some degree for investment. We have a good starting point.”  

Boyle points to several unique aspects to technology in financial services, most notably the additional challenges digital and cloud-based technology brings around the data risk profile.

“We are in a cloud transition, so there are lots of things in the operating ecosystem that are catching up – the regulator’s appetite for banks to be operating in the cloud has finally changed, for one,” Boyle says. “With that trust comes that commitment you have controls and measures in place around customer data. This means you have to be very confident in the environments you’re creating through technology.”  

For Boyle, the aim is realising operational efficiency for BankVic while reducing risk profile. “We’re starting with digital enablement and automation first. Really that’s because we have a fantastic, existing member base and automation allows us to continue to have personalised and engaging conversation across an existing member lifecycle,” she says. “The CMS will be a fast follower as it’ll support where we drive people to for content and other information services.  So content is a key strategy for us.

“We’ll then look to evolve through things like a customer data platform [CDP] in the middle, because then we can work out who is orchestrating what and providing us with that single source of customer view. If we can think about it now, as we look to build and look to put in something like optimisation software we can just plug it into the CDP, rather than have to connect abstract systems together.”

Enterprise-wide, plans are underway around CRM and moving to Microsoft Dynamics in the next 2-3 years. Boyle says this, coupled with an emphasis on native integrations, will ensure cross-functional alignment.

“This means when we’re ready to put the customer view into the hands on sales and service, we know we’ll be able to do it without recreating the wheel again,” she adds.  

Over the top, the emphasis is on how to be relevant to the various communities within BankVic’s member base. Boyle says it’s about considering those nuances, for example, between police versus nurses.

“It’s making sure the brand is really across all communities and people feel connected to us all of the time,” she says. “That’s about clarity and consistency of messaging and in the way we go to market. And seeking to understand and be considered in how we communicate with members.”

Historically, BankVic has done a lot of face-to-face, onsite, relationship-based marketing and engagement. “That works really well if people know who you are. We’ve got an opportunity to be more relevant by extending our reach,” Boyle says. “Some things we’re playing with include how we use digital as above the line more overtly to help people understand who we are.

“In the old world, we were just part of the police, and we’re in the academy and induction sessions. That is useful, but the demographics of who is going to the police academy are changing. They’re not 18 years old anymore; they’re more often between 28-34, and as a result, they may already have banking established someone else. This means you start to play in the world of apathy and switching in financial services.”  

One way of tackling this is to being there when in those customer moments when a prospect may switch – for example, buying a house. Content, digital channels and social will play a vital role here. Another recent step was taking on new strategic partnerships, such as with the Hawthorn AFL team on its emergency services game featuring all eight major emergency services.

“In the brand space, we’re looking at how to ensure people are aware of us, who we are and what we do for them, so in the event they’re onsite and planets align, they’re more likely to be open to the value proposition we provide,” Boyle says.  

 “If we then turn up at an onsite activities, or consumers see us in their workplaces, they’re going to connect those dots. Similarly, if we don’t find them onsite but they’re willing to engage with us and we’re relevant based on what we know about them, we’re more able to take them through a full digital funnel. That requires content activity that’s driving brand awareness, through to encouraging people through a sales funnel on a product that’s relevant to them.”

Measures of success

Through all this, Boyle will be keeping a firm eye on customer effort and satisfaction measures. A further step towards this goal will be rolling out a voice-of-customer program in early 2020.

“Having full visibility of the experience you’re creating for the member, which includes marketing, helps marketers connect to the fact they’re not just delivering a piece in isolation,” Boyle comments.

“We have an annual survey and a fantastic satisfaction score of 96 per cent, plus a super positive NPS [Net Promoter Score]. But we know we’re not perfect and there’s lots of room for growth.”  

Meanwhile, while BankVic is blessed with very high member trust, Boyle agrees it takes just minutes to lose it. The Royal Commission in Australia’s financial services sector has reinforced to Boyle you can never lose sight of who you are here to serve, which is the member.

“The evolution of the world, digital and tech, only changes your risk profile and makes it imperative to be one step ahead all the time. We need to be conscious it’s a privilege that our members bank with us,” she says.  

What’s more, with Open Banking set to give flexibility back to Australian consumers on banking choices, and smaller, more dynamic players entering the banking space, stakes are changing.

“You have to enable your proposition so people have choice, and you need to deliver great products and services,” Boyle says. “All these things will challenge financial services as we know it, and we’ll all have to take a good, hard look at our propositions.”

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