How a virtual bank became New Zealand’s favorite

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The first virtual bank in New Zealand is also first in customer satisfaction, thanks to a CRM system which gives account managers access to complete customer information. The bank’s responsive, personal service is winning both high customer ratings and industry awards.

Launched in October 1997, BankDirect is New Zealand’s first completely telephone- and Internet-based bank. Owned by the ASB Bank Group and operating throughout New Zealand, it serves personal banking customers 24hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

The bank needed an advanced customer management system to support its vision of making services widely available by telephone, ATM and computer. BankDirect also needed a system that would enable excellent customer service and keep pace with growth. They wanted the system to be built on Microsoft Windows NT Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft Exchange Server.

After an extensive search, BankDirect chose Onyx Front Office, a customer-centric e-business solution for the Microsoft BackOffice family from Onyx, a Microsoft certified solution provider. Front Office is a comprehensive tool for managing, sharing, and viewing customer information. In less than four months, Onyx had implemented the new BankDirect front office customer center, integrating virtual banking, blended call centers and backend systems.

The Microsoft and Onyx infrastructure has empowered employees to provide better, more efficient customer service and has increased direct sales opportunities. Access to complete customer information has enabled BankDirect to build customer relationships, improve marketing effectiveness, and shorten sales cycles. BankDirect has received many accolades for its new call center and recently earned the Direct Marketing Association Nexus Award for excellence in products, services and processes.

How it was done
In 1997 ASB Bank took personal finance in a whole new direction by launching New Zealand’s first completely phone- and Internet-based bank, under the name of BankDirect.

BankDirect is “open” 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and has rapidly become the new way of banking in New Zealand. Offering all of the traditional banking products and services, BankDirect is a virtual bank-it has no branches. Customers are served over the telephone, at ATMs, and at the BankDirect Web site.

A new way of doing business
As the bank grew, it became clear that it needed a new way to provide customer service. When answering customer calls, account managers were forced to look in disparate locations for information, making it tough to realize the bank’s vision of providing responsive, personal service. In addition, demand was outstripping system capacity. So BankDirect decided to replace its system with Onyx Front Office, the customer-centric, e-business solution from Onyx Software Corporation, a Microsoft Certified Solution Provider.

Based on Microsoft BackOffice technologies, including Microsoft Windows NT Server and Microsoft SQL Server, Front Office centralized BankDirect’s customer information in a common integrated data store, the Onyx Customer Center. With the complete history of each customer or prospect’s interactions with the bank at their fingertips, BankDirect staff has been able to give informed and proactive responses to requests and inquiries. Sales are up, and so is customer satisfaction.

In fact, the system has performed so well that ASB Bank has decided to use Onyx systems across the board. By the time the full roll-out ends, 1,200 branch staff, 200 call center operators, and 700 internal staff will have access to information on customer processes in a system that is integrated in real-time to the bank’s mainframe-based transaction processing application.

Personal service all day, every day
BankDirect account managers use Front Office to provide personal customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This has maximized sales opportunities for financial products such as savings accounts and loans. In addition, customer service staff uses Front Office to quickly respond to queries about lost bank cards, forgotten PIN numbers, and loan repayments.

Relationship-building
As a virtual bank, BankDirect was able to reduce overhead costs, while at the same time provide a full set of services to customers. However, it also faced a singular challenge: instead of building relationships face-to-face, as at a brick and mortar institution, BankDirect needed to cultivate customer relationships electronically to succeed.

As Derek Redman, BankDirect’s technology manager puts it: “CRM is absolutely key to our business. We have to know our customers, understand their behavior, and respond to their needs.”

Because Front Office organizes information around individual customers, not incidents, every transaction is associated with a valuable relationship. This information empowers account managers to respond appropriately to each customer query.

Flexible, but standard platform
A crucial factor in BankDirect’s choice of Onyx was its use of Microsoft technologies. “We were looking for a new platform that we could grow with, that gave us better flexibility and that was built on Microsoft Windows NT Server, SQL Server and Exchange Server,” says Redman. “Onyx gives us a great deal of flexibility for customizations while retaining all the benefits of a package, such as maintenance and access to new products and enhancements.”

An industry first
The Onyx solution furnished BankDirect with complete customer management capabilities, including e-marketing, e-sales, e-service and e-technical support, making BankDirect first in its industry to provide a complete e-business banking solution directly to customers.

Onyx met aggressive time and budget goals for system implementation. From start to finish, it took just three months to implement the system and integrate it with other mission critical applications, such as credit checking systems. The system’s reliability has been as impressive as its rapid implementation. According to Redman, “The application has been ultra-reliable, and the bank has not experienced a single downtime incident.”

Improved information management
“With Onyx, we have better information about our customers, we are a much more efficient operation in terms of scheduling call-backs and working with customers,” Redman reports. “Better management of information means we know what’s happening with our customers and we know the state of sales. We can do everything more efficiently. Onyx is a powerful tool that lets us record, manage and utilize the customer information that is the core of our business.” BankDirect also uses Front Office for marketing automation, profiling, and literature fulfillment. Onyx’s campaign and list management features target products and services to customers.

Empowered customers
BankDirect is particularly pleased with the enhancements to its website, including a feature that allows customers to apply for a loan and track its status.

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“The web implementation gives more control to the customer,” Redman says. “It’s all about customer acquisition and the sales process. We are a direct sales organization. We’re selling financial products-savings accounts, loans-and we want to make that as easy as possible for our customers. Onyx helps us do that.”

The proof of just how effective Front Office and the BackOffice family has been for BankDirect is in the company’s impressive customer satisfaction levels. Despite an overall decrease in customer satisfaction with many banks, 95 percent of the more than 1,000 customers surveyed said they would recommend BankDirect to friends and family.

Onyx

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