2009 1to1 Customer Champion: M. Sirri Erkan, Deputy CEO, Isbank

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

Isbank Deputy CEO M. Sirri Erkan has used his leadership position to drive an enterprisewide transformation based on customer centricity.

The bank's Customer-Centric Transformation program began in 2006, shortly after Erkan's promotion from CFO. Its goal is to realign the business around the customer by creating a performance-based culture; to enable the technology to support this alignment; and to centralize efforts to bring operational efficiency.

Isbank, which serves 7 million customers and has more than 1,000 branches and 3,300 ATMs, was Turkey's first national bank. Since its inception in 1924 the bank has set its vision on being the most preferred bank in the country. The transformation program is the latest extension of that vision, says Erkan, a 27-year veteran of the bank.

Erkan's responsibilities are to coordinate all projects and initiatives related to Isbank's strategic plans and goals. He also oversees human resources, the contact center, change management and training, and alternative delivery channels.

While CFO, Erkan became very familiar with the importance of metrics, especially when he introduced customer profitability and activity-based costing measurements. He brings that perspective to his current role. "I strongly believe that wise management can be sustained only if it is accompanied by measurable performance metrics that are embodied in the employees' job descriptions," he says. As a result, the new customer-centric business model will be finalized with well-defined roles, responsibilities, and performance metrics for all the employees. "Achieving customer centricity heavily depends on establishment of a performance culture across the bank," he says.

At the branches, for example, Isbank gives customer relationship managers and customer service representatives specific customer portfolios and targets for strengthening customer relationships. Customer data is available to branch employees to allow for individualized treatment every time a customer walks in the branch. And customer portfolio managers at each branch now directly call or visit face to face with their clients. Success is reflected in such customer metrics as potential value, churn, campaign management, and customer lifetime value that drill down to the branch level.
The results so far include better customer relationship strength and the perception that the bank is more proactive in meeting its customers' needs than it was in the past. Isbank has also seen a significant increase in customer profitability, though Erkan does not reveal specifics.

A side benefit of Erkan's measurement approach is the bank's ability to respond to the new economic reality. "The commitment to the long journey of customer-centricity transformation has provided a prudent competitive advantage to the bank in this downturn economy," he says. Shrinking margins and decreasing interest rates have made it mandatory for banks to track efficiency and profitability figures on an individual customer basis. Isbank was well prepared for this, since the measurement mechanisms for customer profitability and costs are part of the customer-centricity program.

Employee engagement and training are also key to Erkan's customer vision.... As part of the transformation, nearly all of Isbank's 19,000 employees have received an average of three-and-a-half days of customer-focused training. In addition, managers have gone through Leading Change and Managing Change training programs and coaching to help them help their staff during the organizational transformation.

None of these programs will succeed without a long-term executive commitment to customers, Erkan says. "It's about digesting all of these initiatives and converting the new customer-centric model into business as usual," he says.