Personalisation on Scale, Now and Know-How!

03 November 2014


BDO’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications team explores how Westpac and Qantas strategically integrate data to disrupt conventional wisdoms, and interweave touch-points to facilitate frictionless user-experience.

At this year’s Teradata’s Marketing Integrated conference, Karen Ganschow – Head of CRM, Westpac group – and Qantas’ Vaughan Chandler, provided insights on how traditional industry leaders are using data to help drive customer-centric strategies, and - more critically - to disrupt themselves. As Ganschow puts it, even giants must ‘move to where the customer is’ and ‘follow them fast’.

Chasing Untidy Users

Australians have adopted social networking en masse:

  • 10 million Australian spend at least half an hour on Facebook daily
  • 6 million have signed up to Linkedin, which entails 95% of the white collar population
  • There are 26 – 27 million active mobiles, and part of the population possesses more than one each.

Christmas 2013 was the tipping point for Westpac when mobiles became the dominant platform for online banking – accounting for 50% of activity. This engagement has since grown, exhibiting extended reach and frequency as mobile users check-in daily rather than just twice-weekly with PCs. Ganschow emphasises the ‘mobile first’ focus, but also highlights the necessity of a multi-channel approach. She says ‘90% [of customers] start online, but may not end up there’, and for high-involvement and high-value decisions such as mortgages, which account for over 60% of the major banks’ total lending, branches are still the determinant touch point.

Chandler, whose focus at Qantas is its newly established Red Planet (a service providing data analytics and expert knowledge from Qantas Loyalty), says that customers who are exposed and involved across multiple channels are worth 3 times the average to organisations. He advises marketers to take a holistic approach in utilising different platforms, and to be acutely aware of how consumers interact with distinct channels. ‘The way which a customer interacts with one channel will affect the way he/she interacts with another’ and this informs how information should flow across channels.

In addition to traditional channels such as television commercials, Ganschow says the ultimate objective is to ‘soundproof’ prospects with digital engagement. For example, Westpac’s weekly Q&A session on Facebook has become an effective first point-of-contact with mortgage buyers, and a crucial part of raising profile and influencing customers who are online, but not yet online banking, to adopt it.

Evidently, the synergies and value-add stem from an integrated chain rather than sole dependence on a particular metric, such as the click through rate.  

‘D’ is for Disruption

Ganschow draws upon Westpac’s tracking data to illustrate the multi-channel user. For example, to research mortgage options during workdays, customers are inclined to use PCs in the morning, potentially in between meetings, then transition to mobiles during the rush hour – as they commute – and dominantly use tablets at night.

Data-driven insights augment marketing campaigns with dynamics of real-time and individual-based customisation as companies are pressured to present a consistent, yet succinctly compounding message. The goal is to streamline consumers’ evaluation processes as they switch between screens in search of solutions which best align to their needs. Customisation is key to Qantas Loyalty, which issues more than 150,000 variations of its e-newsletter a month, whereby most individual emails are sent to clusters of less than 5% of the customer base to enhance personalisation.

Chandler stresses the necessity for big players to leverage data and improve their agility. ‘New market entrants may have a gut feel’, but do not possess the same depth of knowledge which can only be validated by a trading history. Red Bubble’s tracking data, for example, shows that communicating with ‘detractors’ further elevates their dislike for the brand, and suggests proactive targeting of dissatisfaction before relationships become irreparable.

The potency of these insights are illuminated by the Dymocks case study, whereby market facing efforts – driven by Qantas Loyalty – led to an immediate and sustained turnaround in sales growth and satisfaction (improvements in the Net Promoter Score).

‘The market leaders of today are less insulated to disruptions due to the relative ease for start-ups to scale’. Consumers are also increasingly demanding as technological improvements in one industry could influence expectations of customer service in another, ‘for example, customers can check-in via their phones at the airport, and may come to expect the same [wait-time streamlining] from banks.’

As such, ‘traditional leaders need to disrupt conventional wisdoms’. For Qantas, this was extending airline redemption to non-airline product categories. ‘This led to a big improvement in satisfaction’, and evidently a rich and accumulating database which now supports the enterprise diversifying into outsourced business intelligence and marketing. An astute strategic lever given the difficulties confronting the airline, who posted a full-year loss of $2.84bn for FY141.

Seamless User Experience

Consumers are neither constrained to any single screen, ‘the fireplace that was TV’ or the modern companion that is mobile, nor do they categorise expectations neatly by brand or product. Innovations are no longer contained to their originating industries, and whilst companies need to study their own interactions with customers to identify pitfalls, they should look beyond for inspirations to disrupt.

A frictionless purchase path is no longer a value-add, but an expected element of the user-experience.

1 Yahoo7 Finance 2014, ‘Qantas announces $2.84bn loss’, 28 August,