CBA's NetBank gets personal touch

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CBA's NetBank gets personal touch

The Commonwealth Bank has launched a new feature on its NetBank online banking site that allows users to choose how their financial data is presented to them.

As of tomorrow, the free "My Home" feature will allow CBA's 2.6 million NetBank customers to choose what information and functions they wish to appear upon first logging in.

"More and more, customers want to personalise according to what transactions or information they access regularly," said Commonwealth Bank CIO Michael Harte.

The feature has already been trialled with 10,000 customers, with positive results. Less than one per cent of customers made complaints about the new option being available.

"It is human nature to create your own habits," Harte said. "There will always be 'died in the wool' users that prefer the user interface as it is - the stalwarts that will stick with something out of habitual preference. But the most important thing is that users now have a choice."

Harte said CBA is learning a great deal about customer preferences by watching which features its user base choose to prioritise on their front page.

"For internet banking customers, it tends to be payee or payer information they want front and centre," says Harte. "For non-traditional banking customers, it tends to be reports and statistics they need to track on a regular basis."

The personalisation feature is restricted to PC browsing at present, but the bank says the design and back-end services that drive the feature would be easy to roll out to mobile users should they demand it.

At present, over 95 per cent of mobile NetBank customers use the mobile banking service for simple transactions such as accessing account balances or paying a bill.

Focus on customer experience

The personalisation feature ties in with a raft of recent improvements to the bank's online customer experience.

Ross McEwan, head of the Commonwealth Bank's retail banking business, says the CBA had been "losing market share and customers for decades" before starting a journey around improving the bank's customer experience.

One of its first priorities was providing customers assurance around trust.

The CBA offers a "100 per cent security guarantee" on their transactions. Some 1.8 million NetBank customers have taken to two-factor authentication since the CBA introduced the technology earlier this year, he said.

But Harte said the bank has seen a "drop-off" in the use of physical hardware tokens since the CBA launched SMS codes as an alternative to the second factor to authenticate with.

"The mobile phone is preferred," he said.

The bank also offers discounts for PC security products to its users. Further, the CBA subscribes to the Hawk-i monitoring service.

"Every single day we have an entity trying to crack open our secure environment," Harte said. "So we have protection and detection tools that predict attacks based on models of network behavioural types."

The CBA also offers single sign-on access to its internet banking site (NetBank), its financial management site (CommBiz), its share and securities trading site (CommSec), its insurance product site (CommInsure) and the sites of the recently acquired Colonial First State Bank.

Harte said that the single sign-on has boosted sales of simple non-banking products, as it allows "users to easily see what is available in other parts of the bank, and instantly apply for new products and services."

"It otherwise would have taken hours of effort and research," he said. "You can top up your home loan today in a matter of minutes. One year ago, that would have taken 22 days."

Next on the list for CBA's customer experience team is to develop a self-service application that allows users to switch between various fixed and variable home loan options online, and further self-service functionality allowing users to choose how often and by what channels users wish to be notified by the bank (via email, SMS or phone).

CBA staff are also currently trialling NetBank widgets on Windows Vista machines, which allows key financial data such as bank balance and incoming transactions to expose themselves on a user's desktop. No details were available as to whether and when this service might be made available to customers.

While CBA is moving more of its services online, there are some services the bank feels are too hard to provide on the Internet. Complications exist when dealing online with a new customer to CBA, or when the process (such as applying for new home loans) involve third parties "such as Governments and lawyers."

"By contrast, an existing customer applying for a personal loan is actually quite simple," Harte said.

McEwan said branches are now for "complex sales" and "complex issue resolution", contact centres are for 24/7 access to "simple sales" and "complex issue resolution, while the online channel (NetBank, ATMs and EFTPOS) is the dominant channel for simple product sales and simple transactions.

Other interesting facts about CBA's online banking:

  • The CBA boasts 2.6 million active online banking users, out of 4 million registered users and between 9 to10 million total CBA customers. McEwan said this is a good figure considering the number of elderly, school-age and low income earner customers.
  • The CBA is getting 60,000 new applicants for online banking every month.
  • Some 70 per cent of NetBank's 60,000 mobile banking users access services on an Apple iPhone device, despite 14 handheld devices being supported.
  • Close to 80 per cent of Australian internet users do some of their banking online.
  • NetBank handles $20 billion of transactions per month and is the seventh most popular web site in Australia in terms of daily visitors, ahead of Westpac and ANZ.
  • NetBank's front-end is an integrated mix of .Net, Java and Ajax. At the back-end is an Oracle 10G 8-node RAC cluster supporting 1800 transactions per second.
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