Sunday, 25 February 2024

"We marry analytics with our products"

5 min read

By Janine Marie Crisanto

Dennis Tan, head of consumer financial services at OCBC, shares how the bank is leveraging its data analytics and digital capabilities to increase productivity and efficiency amid tough competition in Singapore.

  • Digital competency has become a key differentiator for Singaporean banks
  • OCBC continues to boost its digital and analytics capabilities to enhance customer experience 
  • The bank deployed robotics to minimise manual processes and human intervention

Digitisation has taken over the financial industry with institutions leveraging on new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to increase productivity and efficiency. Especially in a competitive landscape such as Singapore, where banks are not just competing among themselves but with emerging non-bank players, the drive to innovate has become a necessity.

OCBC has been at the forefront of developing and introducing innovative products to keep up with the evolving needs and lifestyles of its customers. Three years ago, it rolled out its OCBC 360 account – the first relationship-based pricing deposit product in Singapore. At present, the bank is pursuing first-mover advantages in key areas such as data analytics, biometrics and robotics.

For OCBC, analytics is considered as a cornerstone of the bank. Dennis Tan, head of consumer financial services at Singapore, shared: “Analytics is a foundation for us. We marry analytics with our products, and it has become pivotal especially for our cards business. There is a whole science behind it.” OCBC has moved away from charging or waiving card annual fees at the card level. Instead, it manages its annual fees at a customer level.

At the back end, the bank has deployed robotics to minimise manual processes and human intervention in some functions at the contact centre. “Using robotics in our processes helps us productivity-wise. We are not cutting headcount, and can now deploy individuals to the front-line to take the real calls,” Tan explained.

At the front-line, staff are equipped with digital tools to improve their ability to assist customers in making the right decisions while offering a great customer experience. For instance, OCBC has integrated the use of tablet computers to conduct bancassurance applications, which has achieved a 66% reduction in the turnaround time for customers to receive an insurance quotation.

Moreover, it has introduced a chatbot named “Emma” specifically for its mortgage and home loan business. “Customer expectation of artificial intelligence is high. When you say that you are deploying an AI, consumers expect it to be smart and faultless. So we would rather not open up the chatbot to the whole consumer banking business, and instead just focus it on one thing – mortgages.” He explained: “We don’t pretend to say our robot can do everything. By concentrating on mortgages, we are able to train and feed the robot information to understand this business very well. Thus, when we piloted and introduced the chatbot to the market, the usage and interaction is high. The accuracy is high. The result is more than an “IT” interaction with clients – it is giving me sales leads!” In just about 3 months, OCBC has received 20,000 enquiries and closed above $7.2 million (SGD10 million) home loans through Emma.

In addition, the bank has extended the use of Touch ID beyond checking customer balances. In 2015, OCBC introduced OCBC OneTouch, enabling customers to access their OCBC balances on smartphones through fingerprint recognition. “Besides seeing the balances, now you can see your last few transactions for your savings account, loans, credit cards, and even check your investments. Once you push these capabilities to the customers, I don’t need my call centre to take all these redundant calls, as the biggest bulk of the calls that come in are questions such as ‘what is my balance’, or ‘these two transactions ago, what did I do? how much was it?’. It’s all these mundane queries. So, now with OneTouch, the customers are empowered and my call centre becomes more efficient”. Since its launch, OCBC OneTouch has been accessed over seven million times.

OCBC has deployed voice biometrics in 2015 as a tool for identification and authentication, replacing PIN and passwords. “The customer just has to literally say this: "At OCBC, my voice is my password". Say this three times, we record it then that’s it. That is your voiceprint with the bank. In the future, when you speak, I know it’s you. So I cut down on the time needed for verification,” Tan explained.

OCBC also introduced speech recognition technology to its contact centre in April 2016 to lessen the time and effort for customers to access phone banking services. The technology is able to process customers' spoken requests, eliminating the tedious process of inputing instructions via the keypad.

Tan highlights that OCBC’s strength in digitisation is mainly attributed to the bank’s focus on customer experience. He emphasised that OCBC does not just pursue innovation for the sake of becoming first, but to bring value to the customer.

Keywords: OCBC, Data Analytics, AI, Mortgage, Chatbot, Robotics
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