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Long Time Coming

Long Time Coming

Developing a successful CRM program is a journey, not a destination — and no organisation knows that better than the National Australia Bank

The Cornerstone

The NAB is the largest financial services institution listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, as measured by market capitalisation. Its Australian banking operation has more than 3.5 million banking customers, approximately 18,000 employees and is represented in approximately 1000 physical locations across Australia, supported by telephone and Internet banking.

Customer relationship management has become the cornerstone to the NAB's business strategy, which Crouch says can be summarised in one mantra the bank's executives repeat constantly: grow through excellent relationships. "That's pretty much the vision of what we're trying to do," Crouch says. "We think the success of the bank is built on not only the success of the community, but also the success of our customers, and we think we have a role to play in helping them.

"[Through CRM] we will be dealing with customers when they want to deal with us. That's what we've got in mind. Obviously the diversity of channels is key to that: being able to provide customers with various options, so they can interact with us the way they want to."

The ultimate aim is to ensure the customer can deal with the bank at his or her convenience, and that no matter who the customer's point of contact is within the bank, they have an understanding of who the customer is. That single customer view would include the history of the relationship; the products and services they typically use, ought to use and should want to use; and also provide some insight into what the customer is doing from a transactional point of view.

"In fact the goal is that we would become proactive," Crouch says. "If you've changed jobs or you've made a big deposit, or whatever the transaction may be, then that should be enough for us to initiate a conversation with you to see how we can support you. If you've got money sitting there on deposit we might contact you to see how you can get better value for that money. If you've changed jobs it might have to do with superannuation pensions or other types of information. Let's say you've sold your house or are selling your house; then there may be opportunities for us to help with remortgaging. It goes on and on.

"It's effectively saying if we understand our customers, then it gives us the opportunity to be proactive and help them."

To varying degrees, all of those things are happening now. The work has been a journey of continuous improvement. The big pieces in Australia are in place within the NAB; the bank is now in the process of refining and improving the system, and doing a lot of learning along the way. "You try some things and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work. You then just keep on refining what you're trying to do," Crouch says.

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