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How Westpac fixed a sales issue by asking what its customers actually wanted

The re-engagement program increased the bank's sales conversion rates, but also gave its customers less frustration in the process.
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Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor on

Westpac recently undertook a transformation project across its entire organisation to fix the initial problem of customer drop-offs.

The customer re-engagement program spanned its four banking institutions -- Westpac, St George, Bank SA, and Bank of Melbourne -- and focused on credit cards, personal loans, transaction accounts, and savings accounts.

The program started with a multidisciplinary team, comprising 160-plus staff, that set off on a three-month customer research exercise to look at the end-to-end sales process.

"We wanted to understand where customers were dropping off and why," Westpac digital sales portfolio director, Mase Arakeli, said at Salesforce World Tour on Wednesday in Sydney.

"What our research found was after the application was submitted, we were losing 40-50 percent of customers -- quite a significant number."

The research found customers were getting distracted midway through application completion; the forms were ambiguous; and the customer wasn't able to pick up where they left off, instead being required to remember application numbers and re-enter information.

Arakeli said the teams worked for 12 months to make this experience better.

"We built triggers in the origination platforms across the four banking groups and across all those products, we re-wrote and re-housed and migrated it all into Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and we introduced capabilities around auto save of forms, as well as seamless re-entry of the customer back into the application form," he explained.

"We've seen a significant decrease in customer drop offs, a direct 2-3 percent increase in sales conversion rates across all these products, and the project is well on its way to a two-year payback."

Handing a project of this size back to the BAU teams was "big", Arakeli said, as it required the bank to change the way it had operated for years.

Read also: Westpac considers itself Australia's oldest startup

"As you can imagine, an organisation of this size, with multiple banking groups and divisions, processes can be quite cumbersome -- let's call it what it is -- and we're always looking to do better," he continued.

"So we looked at our internal processes and we said, 'How can we react faster to our customers?'.

"Typically, the smallest change would take between four to six weeks to be implemented, based on the processes and the tools we had in place."

Now, making a change takes one day.

"The way we did that was set up cross-functional teams across the group, across marketing, legal, risk, compliance, digital channel product-owners, these teams are empowered to make decisions based on what needs to change, based on customer feedback and testing, the changes are made based on the training teams have got on Salesforce Marketing Cloud and reflected in real-time," Arakeli concluded.

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