Bankwest has been late to the mobile and online self-service party, according to its chief information officer Andy Weir, but the executive was quick to add that the bank is catching up to its rivals.
"I think, in terms of Bankwest, in some respects we've been playing a little bit of catch-up in some of our online space. For example, we launched a new public website around nine months ago, and that has been very successful for us, and has driven a big increase in foot traffic to the site. I think we've also implemented, off of the back of that, a click-to-chat capability, which is really seeing big improvements from a customer satisfaction point of view," Weir said, speaking at Sydney's 6th Annual Technology & Innovation — the Future of Banking & Financial Services in Sydney today.
"We've also taken our first forays into the smartphone space, and whilst our developments there have been fairly straightforward, we've seen 100,000 downloads of that application in six or seven months. That represents around one in 10 of our customer base. So the demand for those sort of services to improve engagement really are there. For us, it's about pushing on more in that space," Weir said.
He added that while customers are jumping at the opportunity for self service via technology, they also place a high value on getting their problems solved by real people.
"One of the first questions our customers asked via the click-to-chat service," Weir recounted, "was whether or not the person answering was a real person," he said, drawing a chuckle from the audience.
He added that if a bank doesn't have a mobile capability for servicing complaints going forward, it will actively annoy its customers and potentially drive them away.
"From my perspective ... [mobile capability] is now almost an expectation from customers. The reality is that there is such an explosion in smartphone use ... that if we're not there, it's a source of dissatisfaction for customers, and ultimately detrimental to your brand value.
"[Everyone] still talk[s] about [mobile] as an emerging technology, and the truth is that it's not emerging; it's here. Therefore, the longer the organisation waits to get in there to seize that opportunity, the more detrimental it will be to the brand value and missed opportunities, because someone else will [scoop your] customers up," Weir said.