Commonwealth Bank staff sit mandatory CRM exams

It may be called CommSee but for nearly 5000 staff the Commonwealth Bank's latest attempt at customer relationship management (CRM) is a must-see, with thousands of bank staff required to sit mandatory exams on the new technology.

Commonwealth Bank group executive for retail banking services, Hugh Harley, said a key factor for success of the $1.4 billion Which New Bank overhaul of IT at the CBA is to ensure staff not only feel empowered by technology, but that new data translates directly into service improvements for customers.

Internally developed by the bank, the new platform aims to provide a single view of customers across multiple products.

"At CBA we have made this massive investment in new, front-end technology - but the real challenge is embedding it. Everyone [employees using CommSee] will have to be formally accredited in this. It will be pass or fail," Harley said.

Part of the new approach at CBA appears to have stemmed from lessons learnt during the tenure of the CBA's recently departed CEO and technology sceptic David Murray.

"CBA - notwithstanding the fact that it has the largest customer base - has put a disproportionate amount of energy and resource [into customer] acquisition rather than retention and understanding the customers' needs.

"There's no doubt that part of the "Oh, hell" moment we had a couple of years ago was that we needed to focus on retention and servicing customers, hence, the whole push over the last couple of years in the "Which New Bank?" story," Harley said.

Warning about the risks of losing lower revenue customers, Harley said it was easy to shed customers but far harder to reduce proportional cost overheads because of high-fixed costs. The situation has resulted a reevaluation in customer data, and the way it is used.

"One of the most successful data strategies has been managing customer attrition. That's why we have had a comeback on home loans. We are now at the point where we can put the credit [risk] people and analytical [marketing] people in the same room."

The result of integration so far has been an integrated fraud risk score based on the profile of credit applications.

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