BankWest first opened its doors for business in 1895, as the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia. Established by the Government of Western Australia to help develop the State’s farming industry, it was not until 1994 the bank changed its name to Bank of Western Australia Ltd.
Now trading under the name BankWest, the company was fully acquired in August 2003 by Bank of Scotland (BOS), which subsequently became HBOS plc Group in 2001 after BOS merged with Halifax. HBOS plc is one of the world’s largest financial services groups, with assets of around GBP£591 billion. In Australia, HBOSA is made up of BankWest, Capital Finance, St. Andrew’s Australia and BOS International.
BankWest offers a full suite of products and services and is active in all market segments, with lending diversified between business, rural, housing and personal markets, including the full range of deposit products.
In its home state, BankWest is a market leader with about one quarter of all bank advances and deposits. Nearly 660,000 customers are served through an extensive network of branches, agencies and electronic banking facilities, as well as 24-hour telephone and internet banking services.
In the interstate markets, BankWest has promoted a selected range of products using cost-effective third party distribution channels, including finance brokers and affinity partnerships. The interstate expansion is supported by offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
As a major challenger to the more established banks, BankWest Corporate and Business Division (CBD) is committed to developing innovative high value SME banking solutions. BankWest CBD is Australia’s fastest growing business bank and has increased its market share of business lending by more than 1 percentage point in the last 12 months. BankWest CBD has also received acclaim in the Business Banking category for some of its business banking products including the Business Edge loan and Business Bonus transactional account.
The customer-centric approach adopted by BankWest CBD relies very heavily on customer feedback to drive process change. This feedback was once generated through research programs or surveys conducted by specialist research companies. Whilst this approach is suitable for more mass-market propositions where only general impressions or insights are required, BankWest needed a very specific level of actionable insight.
“While BankWest offers simple and straightforward products, in relative terms, business banking and finance is a complex category,” commented Simon Edwards, Manager—Strategic Analysis for BankWest. “The contact channels for the customer are multi-dimensional and the decision to purchase finance from a business bank is far more complex than with a personal banking product. This category complexity requires a higher level of insight. Business customers all have unique needs, whereas the banking needs of individual consumers are more homogenous.”
Given the relative complexity of the average SME customer, BankWest felt that whilst external research companies were effective at delivering general consumer insights, they lacked the in-depth technical knowledge required when it came to business customers.
“It became apparent that we were not getting quality insights on our SME customers from external research,” continued Edwards. “Ultimately, when customers are giving feedback about their experiences, interpretations of the data by people within your business provide a much higher standard of insight than by a market researcher with limited specific industry knowledge.”
In 2006, BankWest’s Corporate and Business Division implemented a customer feedback program known as Voice of the Customer (VoC). The aim of the program, as the name suggests, is to elicit feedback from business customers on the financial products and services provided to them by the Bank, in turn providing them with a ‘Voice’.
Based on BankWest’s previous findings of the limitations posed by external research agencies, they knew the key to the success of the VoC program was to maintain as much internal control of the customer feedback process as possible. To this end, the only element of the program externalized was the actual compilation of the survey instruments, although this still posed issues for the Bank.
“With our Voice of the Customer program, we were able to control almost all elements of the research, except for the actual compilation of the survey instruments, for which we still needed to rely on an external service provider,” said Edwards.
“Although we were able to realize significant benefits, not being able to control one-hundred percent of the customer feedback process still proved to be a limitation. We were confident that controlling the process end-to-end would result in improved quality of insights, greater internal buy-in across the company and efficiency gains.”
In 2006, BankWest surveyed 2,500 business customers as part of its VoC program, primarily consisting of four different surveys at various touch points and customer stages. The VoC program has helped the bank to improve its customer satisfaction rate by 15 percent in 2006. Buoyed by its success, and driven by an increasing internal demand for VoC, BankWest decided to take total ownership of the program by implementing PASW Data Collection in order to construct surveys internally, as opposed to outsourcing.
PASW Data Collection is a Web-based survey research technology platform that allows organizations to easily and cost-effectively gain a clear and detailed understanding of what their customers think, do, and what they are likely to do in the future.
“I have been in this situation before, when you have to decide how you solve the data capture and CATI (Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing) problem,” Edwards added. “You could write one, but it’s simply not worth the investment, or you could use existing tools like Excel which are not as appropriate.”
“With PASW Data Collection we can customise our survey research precisely as we want. Being Web-based, we can also deploy virtually anywhere and involve many people across the company very easily. This is a key element because improving processes and instigating change means you have to involve people to get their buy-in.”
PASW Data Collection utilizes an open architecture model, enabling users to control and optimize every aspect of the survey research process—from authoring and interviewing to analyzing and sharing results across the organization.
"The purpose of collecting feedback from customers is to ultimately improve their experience with us. This requires us to change."—Simon Edwards
Manager Strategic Analysis
By implementing PASW Data Collection as part of its VoC program, BankWest has been able to gain greater leverage from its customer feedback insights, provide greater flexibility and reduce costs. This is mainly due to the buy-in across the organization enabled through the use of the technology.
“The purpose of collecting feedback from customers is to ultimately improve their experience with us,” said Edwards. “This requires us to change. In this sense, Voice of the Customer is a change management project masquerading as survey research.
“In order for elements of the customer experience to improve in a way that’s consistent with their feedback, internal department managers accountable for those elements need to agree with and own the insights of the VoC program. Allowing internal stakeholders a role in the interpretation and reporting of the results via Dimensions really drives this ownership.”
Moving to the PASW Data Collection Web-based self-service research tool has enabled BankWest to reduce survey research costs by 20 percent and improve the overall efficiency of its business customer research.
“Since implementing VoC in 2006 and seeing a number of substantial benefits, we have experienced significant internal demand for the program beyond its initial scope,” explained Edwards. “The ability to control the data collection loop end-toend through Dimensions allows us to easily service this demand.
“Being able to access PASW Data Collection via a Web browser also enables us to virtually eliminate the need for our IT department to get involved, which from a technical stand-point is a great added benefit,” he concluded.
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