Scotiabank banking on data analytics

DALLAS – Imagine signing up for a bank loyalty travel card and finding out on your out of country vacation that you been locked out from using the card because you were travelling.

This and other unpleasant surprises are what Scotiabank is trying to avoid for its customers in the bank’s new push to focus on customer service rather than product promotion. And the Canadian financial institution is relying on data analytics to chart the way.

Scotiabank is looking at a long-term optimization of its customer engagement program.

“What we are working towards now is a one-to-one customer-focused strategy that is geared towards service,” said Tim Morris, vice-president of Scotiabank’s customer interaction management.

Morris spoke about how the Canadian bank is using analytics to drastically alter its customer engagement strategy at the SAS Global Forum 2015 here.

As one of Canada’s big three banks, Scotiabank offers a broad range of products and services, including personal, corporate, commercial and investment banking to more than 21 million customer in some 50 countries around the work. Its operations encompass, North America, Latin America, the Caribbean and Central America and it employs more than 86,000 workers around the world.

Scotiabank has been using analytics tools to help it understand customer behaviour and come up with strategies and campaigns to leverage our data assets and remain profitable. The bank has also been using SAS Marketing Optimization to determine which service offerings are most relevant for a particular customer at a particular time.

However, some of the most notable changes in Scotiabank’s banks practices in the near future will come from its customer contact centres.

Some three years ago, Morris said, the embarked on a project to re-evaluate its customer engagement practices and to identify better ways for its frontline staff to communicate with Scotiabank’s clients.

The traditional process involved contact centre personnel calling bank customers and offering them products that may or may not resonate with the customers. These phone calls call also tended to occur during times when customers were preparing for or just sitting for dinner.

In the last few years, Morris, said Scotiabank has been working on altering this strategy.

To drive this transformation, the bank has been employing tools SAS analytics solutions to gain a clearer picture of what its customers need from Scotia.

The idea, according to Morris, is to use analytics to a point where Scotiabank’s systems can provide customer contact agents with information that will give them a better idea of what other products and services the customer night need.

For example, when a customer access Scotia Web site to conduct a transaction, they may be presented with options for other services. The customer might click on these services but decide not to pursue it at that moment. When the customer gets to interact with an agent, the agent, during the course of the conversation, might bring up other possible services based on the customer’s profile or perceived interest they may have signified during previous online interactions.

“There will be nothing intrusive with the offers and everything will depend on the customer’s decisions,” said Morris.

This entails a fundamental change on contact centre agent skills and how they interact with clients, according to Morris.

Scotiabank’s future plans for example, will involve a re-think of how contact centre agents interact with customers.

If agents were instructed to push products and services in the past, they may be trained to “listen” more intently to customer issues, determine what a customer’s specific needs are and recommend the available services and products.

It’s a “context change” and “content change,” according to Morris. Contact centre agents will have to be trained to identify opportunities during their client contact to offer services and products that will “genuinely” be useful to the customer.

This is no easy task, according to Mark Peskir, solutions architect for the Carolinas operations of the American Automotive Associations (AAA). The company is an organization that provides an automobile towing service, membership service, towing service and even automotive and loyalty program to members. Peskir was among the attendees in Morris’ presentation.

Peskir was among the attendees that expressed interest in Scotiabank’s new program.

“I can see how the use of analytics in determining customer needs and the altering of customer service agents’ practices can bring benefits to loyalty programs like ours,” he said.

But he also realizes the challenges.

“For the most part, contact agents work from a ready-made script of that covers how they interact and what they offer customers,” he said. “This strategy will require them to adopt a new analytics-driven script. Some will be able to readily transition, but others will likely be told they need to undergo retraining.”

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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