Hong Leong bank is winning with digital in Asia. Source: Shutterstock.

Hong Leong bank is winning with digital in Asia. Source: Shutterstock.

How Hong Leong is creating a better omni-channel experience

CREATING a delightful customer experience is a goal that every business strives for, but most struggle to meet.

In the financial services space, with legacy systems and regulatory pressures, delivering that stellar customer experience is quite a significant challenge.

However, according to IDC, one bank in Malaysia seems to be leading the way, changing the perception that building a great omni-channel customer experience is impossible.

The team of analysts at IDC believes that the financial institution is using technology to provide customers with smarter solutions across platforms and hence, have awarded them the Omni-Experience Innovator of the Year award.

To learn more about how Hong Leong Bank is running its innovation engine, Tech Wire Asia caught up with the Bank’s Head of Customer Experience Edward Pinto.

According to Pinto, his team understands that customers expect service providers, including banks, to be available 24/7, across digital and non-digital channels according to their preference and convenience.

They’re also aware that customers want to have a seamless experience as they navigate between online and offline channels and vice versa.

“If customers interact with us across multiple channels, they expect the service to be consistent as they bounce between channels (self-service and human-assisted channels) without any disconnect or breakage in their experience,” said Pinto.

Hence, when Hong Leong Bank embarked on their omni-channel transformation journey, their goal was to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to build capabilities that could be utilized across various channels to deliver superior and consistent customer experiences.

“To that end, in 2016 we launched Malaysia’s very first AI chat advisor powered by IBM Watson as well as predictive CRM system for our call center that could predict our customers’ intention even before they speak,” revealed Pinto.

At the same time, Hong Leong Bank also built platforms to gain a sense of the experience it provided to customers across channels and products, in real time, to drive continuous customer experience improvements.

“We did this by creating dashboards to gauge operational/service level performances, social media feedback, and customer satisfaction results. As a result of these omni-channel initiatives, our channels have been consistently performing above the 4.0 customer satisfaction (CSAT) score mean target (out of a scale of 5.0),” said a joyous Pinto.

Being a pioneer in the AI space in Malaysia’s financial services industry, however, came with its challenges, but team Hong Leong was excited to embrace the technology and felt it was a natural progression to the Bank’s ambition of being a highly digital and innovative ASEAN financial services institution.

“Although it was a steep learning curve to understand the technology, we kept fine tuning our machine learning models on a continuous basis – as well as managing internal (employee) and external (customers) change and communications management to drive adoption and acceptance,” explained Pinto.

The AI-driven omni-channel digital transformation seems to have been very well received by Hong Leong’s customers.

The predictive customer intent AI technology was designed to augment the Bank’s contact center agents by providing predictive capabilities as well as a 360-degree view of the customers using one application.

The system provides a sleek and compelling UX/UI, which agents find highly intuitive and a joy to use, believes Pinto. Since the system is also ‘Touch’ enabled, Hong Leong’s agents are able to use more ergonomic Touch Screen desktops, which in the future, could be deployed on iPads and Microsoft Surfaces for more agility and mobility.

The intuitive UI/UX also means that Hong Leong Bank is able to reduce the learning curve and training time on applications and processes for its call center agents.

Here are some of the key benefits of the program:

  • Customer Verification Time — We saw a drop of almost 20 percent in the time required to verify our customers
  • Call Average Handling Time — We saw an improvement of almost 50 percent in the customer talk time
  • Contact Center CSAT scores — We have consistently exceeded our internal target of 4.0 out of a 5.0 scale

At the end of the day, it seems as though Hong Leong had two things going for it, two things that actually drove the program to success:

The bank had a strong team that was focused on improving the experience of the customer, by using technology for end-user applications as well as for internal systems and processes. The AI system implemented was a great solution for customers and service agents alike.

Next, and most important, the bank had a plan that was driven by the customer’s needs. That’s something a lot of businesses seem to ignore these days — and causes them trouble at the end — making it difficult to earn reasonable ROIs and accolades (as Hong Leong did from IDC).

For financial institutions looking to make progress on digital, it’s important to have a strong customer focus and use technologies that make the biggest and most significant impact on end users.