Big data and the ideas bank

7th Mar 2016

On Tuesday 8 March, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Customer Service will host a roundtable discussion about ways to ensure consumers trust organisations with their personal data. With 43% of customers concerned about cyber attacks, according to a survey recently conducted by the Institute of Customer Service, the meeting will hopefully open up opportunities for companies to use big data securely and successfully. 

Chris Popple, managing director of digitisation for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), recognises that there are huge advantages for organisations that use customer data well.

“We have to listen, assimilate and then take action on all we are hearing from a wide range of customer insights,” he says. “We are collecting a vast amount of data – banks are probably the biggest collectors of information about individuals and businesses.” 

Through its ‘ideas bank’, RBS asks customers what they think it could do to make things easier for them. “We also have transaction data, so we know where you spend your money and we observe other things you are interested in as you traverse through our financial tools ¬– savings, for example. This gives us an indication of things you need help with.”

With so much data captured on a customer’s identity, transactions, financial behaviour and credit history, trust between the bank and its customers is vital. “We need to keep information safe, ensure customers trust us to keep it safe and then put that data to good use to enrich the customer experience,” Popple explains.

As a result, RBS ensures its customers know what kind of data it keeps and that it is used specifically to enhance the services they receive. When severe flooding hit the country in 2014, for example, RBS was able to identify customers who might have been affected and proactively offer them support, by enabling them to delay or temporarily postpone their mortgage payments. 

“You have to act fast,” says Popple. “But those are the best moments – when you surprise and delight your customers. That’s when you demonstrate the real power for good that the data can provide when it’s managed well.”

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