Bank of Queensland to use social media, overhaul IT

CEO Stuart Grimshaw said his top priority is "multi-channel optimisation".

The Bank of Queensland seeks to use social media and other forms of online engagement to serve customers across more channels, according to the bank’s CEO, Stuart Grimshaw.

The top item in the bank’s strategy is “multi-channel optimisation,” Grimshaw said in an address at the bank's annual general meeting.

That means “serving our customers in the way they wish to do business with us—be it face-to-face in-branch or through a broker, over the phone, online or via social media,” he said.

“As customers’ preferences change, we need to make sure we keep up with them, otherwise we won’t attract any new customers and we risk losing our existing ones,” Grimshaw said. “Choice is the key.”

Better online engagement will help Bank of Queensland make up ground against larger competitors, said Grimshaw, adding that the average total amount of loans and deposits per branch are around $150 million for Bank of Queensland, compared to $300 million for major banks and $450 million for the “best performing competitor.”

“The reason for this is that they use online channels and brokers to complement their branch networks, which increases the options for attracting new customers,” he said.

“This is something we have been missing out on due to our predominantly branch-focused distribution which provides approximately 90 per cent of our new business. By opening new broker and online channels, we significantly increase the opportunity to attract and retain customers.”

Grimshaw said online channels could even gain the bank customers in areas without Bank of Queensland branches. “That may be in Queensland or it may be interstate where millions of potential new customers live.”

The bank also seeks to overhaul the IT behind its internal processes to make it a more nimble competitor, Grimshaw said.

The Bank of Queensland is “exploring a different approach to technology, partnering with providers who can give us access to global scale for a fraction of the cost that our larger competitors are incurring to overhaul their own systems,” he said.

“This is an area where we can use our smaller size to our advantage, but we need to be smart about the way we do things and make sure our processes are as simple and efficient as possible.”

There has lately been a flurry of technology announcements from the top Australian banks, related to mobile, social media and internal infrastructure. Social media and mobile trends have forced banks around the world to adapt their business practices or risk potential customer loss, according to financial experts.

Earlier this month, National Australia Bank (NAB) launched a system to enhance its customer service using social media. NAB also recently announced a “total environment transformation” in IT.

Commonwealth Bank has also been active with social media. Last month, the bank announced a Facebook app letting customers make payments to Facebook friends.

ASB, a bank in New Zealand, has set up a virtual branch on Facebook where customers can have secure, real-time conversations with bank tellers.

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