IT can't replace face-to-face banking: NAB

Tech will not replace face-to-face banking: NAB

While Australia's banks spend millions on new online banking tools and customer relationship management (CRM) projects, the National Australia Bank (NAB) aims to remain a face-to-face business, according to its CRM chief.

NAB has carried out several major technology projects in recent times, including a unified data warehousing system and the re-engineering of its consumer lending processes.

Last year, the bank introduced SMS-based per-transaction authentication to increase the security of its Internet banking services. However, such technologies will only ever complement traditional services rather than replace them, according to Gerd Schenkel, general manager, customer strategy and cross marketing, NAB.

"We are a firm believer that banking is a face-to-face business and we use technology more and more to support our face-to-face sales people," said Schenkel at a Teradata conference in Sydney this week.

"I believe a big area of innovation will be in technologies that help our people deal with our customers face to face or on the phone," he said.

Schenkel explained that it was difficult to measure customers' response to technology-driven banking channels: "It's hard ... the expectations of customers are rising so now people expect Internet banking, telephone banking.... Ten years ago this might have been an advantage, now it's sustaining business".

Customer service cannot be measured in terms of individual technologies, said Schenkel: "To separate the effect of one particular technology from, say, overall customer satisfaction is basically impossible.... We can't isolate each technology's effect but we can measure the totality of our service -- that's the key driver of these investments."