BankWest Listens to Customers in Unique Places

Customer Experience
Customer Experience

In today's market where customers are scarce, organizations need to be able to differentiate themselves. One way to become more customer centric is through a voice of the customer initiative-the process of listening, collecting, and actively acting on customer feedback across the enterprise.

But for a voice of the customer initiative to succeed, feedback cannot operate in silos and must be leveraged across the organization. It also should include all customer data-structured solicited feedback, operational data, and unstructured data-to receive rich results.

At BankWest in Sydney, Australia, the organization implemented a voice of the customer initiative a couple years ago that took all such factors into account.

Simon Edwards, manager of strategic analysis at BankWest, says the mission was to transform the company from a small regional bank to a national business bank by rapidly building market share and improving the customer experience. But BankWest's customer satisfaction surveys were no longer adding value because they were generic and analyzed by a third party that did not understand the company's business.

Bringing the survey process in-house, BankWest now runs general satisfaction, advocacy, and repurchase surveys twice per year. In addition, customer service professionals talk to customers after they are acquired to learn why they became customers, and also and conduct exit interviews with them to find out why they are leaving. BankWest also administers online banking interface surveys and other tactical touchpoint surveys as certain issues arise.

With the help of SPSS Dimensions, the two organizations interpret the data and conduct root cause analysis of the issues. "From that, we have a laundry list of issues that we think are systemic that need intervention," Edwards says.

The key to the success of the initiative, Edwards says, is how BankWest acts on the feedback. The company now features videos on the website of customers talking about the service they received at the bank. Edwards says that has been a successful marketing tool. And the feedback is continuously shared and discussed across the organization. Edwards says Alex O'Byrne, the head of the company's voice of the customer program, spends about 10 percent of her time communicating customers' feedback and even has speeches ready about the latest data for when she bumps into senior people throughout the building.

Olivier Jouve, vice president of corporate development at SPSS, says that acting on the feedback is critical to the success of any voice of the customer initiative. "Voice of the customer should not be a one-way street; organizations must remember to close the feedback loop," he says.

At BankWest, this strategy has paid off in a 15 percent gain in customer share in the first year. Simon attributes the success to sharing the feedback with senior management and getting them involved in solving customers' issues. "If issues are resolved to the customer's satisfaction, and the impact on advocacy and loyalty is mitigated, then sometimes the outcomes are better than if no issue occurred at all," he says.