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22. 11. 2022

New Trends in Lead Management

Learn how KBC group balanced customer journeys in assisted & digital channels and moved the Lead management across all the countries to the next maturity level.

In this interview recorded at Adastra Data Innovation Day, Bogdan Manea from KBC group and our managing consultant Martin Obetko discuss new trends in digital lead management.

Bogdan shares interesting insights about KBC‘s digital first distribution models, reasons for choosing Exponea and its recent implementation, as well as their new guiding framework which enables them to not only anticipate, but also fulfill customer’s needs.

Last but not least, he introduces Kate, KBC’s new personal digital assistant, who provides personalised and highly relevant solutions and advice to KBC’s employees in both digital and traditional sales environments. 

Topics covered:

Listen to the podcast (EN)

Speakers: Martin Obetko, Managing Consultant, Adastra Bogdan Manea, Program Manager (International Markets Business Unit – KBC Group), KBC Group

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Podcast is recorded in Czech language.

Read the podcast as an interview

Martin Obetko: Bogdan please let me welcome you once again, and maybe you can tell us something about yourself.

Bogdan Manea: Well, good morning, Martin. Good morning also to the other participants. And thank you for the invitation. I'm quite excited. I'm also planning to join some of the other sessions because there are quite a few topics which are interesting from my perspective. On my side, just to introduce myself. Well, you did it very nicely. I work for KBC Group, which is present in six countries within Europe, organized in three business units, one being Belgium, the other one being CSOB business unit in Czech Republic, and the other four countries which are Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria are under what we call international markets business unit. I am part of a group function supporting the four entities within international markets with what we call business transformation. And I'm particularly focusing on the strategic initiatives in the areas of lead management and data strategy. And I'll be happy to share with you and with the other participants, of course, our experience and our approach in the lead management domain.

Martin Obetko: Let me ask you first question. KBC is known for the innovations, for the innovation appetite, for disruptive solutions. Can you tell us a little bit more about the vision and the strategy of the KBC at the very beginning?

Bogdan Manea: Of course. Well, it's important to mention that in recent years, we have taken significant steps in the digital transformation of the business. And I'm not only referring here to the way we serve customers, but also within the company itself. And during the recent coronavirus lockdown period, given unfortunate circumstances obviously, society received what I would say, a digital boost, much faster than expected. Again, we can only hope that the circumstances were different. But the significant investments that we did in digital transformation over the course of the last years clearly paid off and allowed us basically during this period of time to continue serving the customers, I would say at the levels they weren't expecting. Going forward, basically, obviously this is not the end. I will say it's just maybe the beginning. Going forward, we are going to make the interactions with the customer even more future proof and smarter in the sense supported by artificial intelligence and maybe something important to take away or to remember is that we'll move from what so far was known as omnichannel distribution model, which is basically having physical distribution, the classical, I would say, brick and mortar channels complemented or operating next to the digital channels.

Bogdan Manea: So to move from this omni channel distribution approach to a digital first distribution model and what we mean by a digital first distribution model is basically that we will eventually offer all relevant solutions via the mobile applications. But in order to do so, basically we need to make sure that all the processes and all the products are developed and will be developed as if they were sold digitally. This probably sounds simple, but it's not. It's a massive endeavor requiring us to completely review the processes within the organization, and redesign them accordingly to a digital only operating model. And one more element, which is core to our approach updating strategy is that we have recently introduced Kate. Some of you might have already heard about Kate, which is the new personal digital assistant who will basically play an important role in providing proactive, timely, personalised and relevant solutions in digital sales and advice. That's why I was mentioning before operational efficiency and all these things around straight-through processing and so on are crucial in our endeavor.

Martin Obetko: Yeah, that sounds really exciting. From the strategy, it seems really interesting, but how does the lead management fit to the existing vision and the strategy?

Bogdan Manea: Well, digital lead management, as we call it, is one of the key pillars of the updated group strategy, announced at the end of last year. And it will help us for sure to stay relevant and personal in the digital environment. And from our perspective, it's all about optimising the customer journeys. And I'm sure you'll recognize that in the past we used to look at customer journeys in a linear fashion, starting from creating awareness, exploring solutions, purchasing, followed by the usage and the retention part and so on. But in reality, people basically are more complicated than that. And instead of a linear process, customer journeys are more like a series of loops. Just giving a few examples. People might check internet, they may read something online, they may receive an email. Or maybe a friend is recommending a certain product or service. They visit websites. They come back, they check it out. They check several brands and so on. They might revisit the initial search and so it continuous as customers ultimately narrow down their selection and in the end decide to buy the product. So the traditional way of looking at customer journeys in a linear fashion, it's no longer applicable. And basically what we need to do is to understand the customer behavior. And basically every behavior that they make will tell us what comes next. And well, the only thing that can allow us to interpret the signals that are coming out from from the customers is data.

Bogdan Manea: Therefore, data is also a crucial element of our strategy and our lead management approach. In order to be able to progress, we have developed a guiding framework with five levels, maturity levels, where basically level five is when we'll be able to proactively, not only but to anticipate the customer needs, which is typically what probably most of the companies do, but also to fulfill their needs, their requests. I was mentioning before the word solutions. So what we are aiming is not just to be, let's say, not one step ahead of customers, but also to be able to ideally instantly fulfill their needs. Okay. Are they looking for certain products and services? Well, via the mobile app with a few clicks, they can get it and use it and so on. So we want basically to anticipate and to be able to address the needs supported by data, by artificial intelligence, in a fully automated and straight-through omnipresent lead lifecycle management process. It probably sounds fancy, but basically what the customers are expecting today is that they need things instantly. They are not willing to wait, not even virtually for the products. And I was saying, this may look simple, but it is not. It will require us basically to redesign the processes within the organization according to what we call a digital only operating model.

Martin Obetko: You mentioned one very interesting thing, Kate, the digital assistant. And basically, Kate, if I understand it correctly, it's on one hand digital assistant for the customers, which is really a brilliant idea (maybe you can tell us a bit more about it), but it is something more. What is Kate also to you, for employees, what does it mean?

Bogdan Manea: Indeed. Let me share with you a few more information about Kate, which is a core element of our data strategy. Well, in practice, it's a personal digital assistant and basically the idea is to make the life of our customers more comfortable, hassle free, by offering personalized instant solutions on their smartphones and voice messages and predefined quick action buttons. Just to give you a few examples, let's say if we decide to go for lunch and afterwards split bills for the time being, well, you typically open your mobile app, you go to the payment section, select from the list, Martin or Petko, and I can put the amount and then authorize the payment and then the payment goes through. Not in the future, because this is already available. Now, it's possible, basically to ask Kate. Say, Kate, please make a transfer of €20 to Martin. And basically it is possible to interact with Kate, just reconfirming like - are you sure you want to transfer €20 to Martin and the payment will go through. Or just give you another example. Well, as you can see here on the screen, there are quite a few use cases that were already launched.

Bogdan Manea: And going forward, the intention is to make Kate smarter every month by launching additional user cases. Another good example is that in Belgium, for example, when you go to a hospital, and if you are insured, you need to provide your insurance card, the link between the hospital and the insurance company. And obviously this is not something that you use on a daily basis and nobody knows the number by heart. And instead of like digging into your wallet to retrieve the card and give it to the reception, now, it will be possible simply to ask Kate to provide you with a number, and it will simply tell you the number or display your card. And we even go one step further. So it's not just convenience when it comes to easy, simple transactions, but it will also help you, for example, if you want to change your energy supplier, you'll be able to get the support of Kate in doing so.

Martin Obetko: You reminded me one thing. I'm with lead management and campaign management, basically CRM, since the beginning of my career. And I saw the transformation from pure sales to also serving the customers. At first it was just carpet bomb and then understanding of the customer and solving the customer get to the center of the vision of the companies. And you go a little bit further. So it's not just the customer at the center, the banking products and banking services, but you do something like beyond banking, which is really excellent. I like it.

Bogdan Manea: You are touching another very important point that maybe the audience might be interested. We are not limiting ourselves to the pure financial services which a bank is used to. With the mobile app, currently you can buy tickets for public transport. You can also, for example, pay for parking tickets. So when you basically approach the parking, you can get in without taking your wallet or taking a ticket and so on, so forth. And I would only add on Kate, this is not just a gimmick or another another channel for us. The intention is basically, Kate, based on supported by data, supported by artificial intelligence and so on, to be able also to provide support also to the KBC employees by providing either advice or if the customer's obviously given whatever reasons, they do not prefer the digital channels, so they still want to go to the traditional ones, Kate will be able to assist the colleagues in the branches with personal advice, and this will be especially relevant in more complex line of business.

Martin Obetko: All right. I saw a question from the audience, and it's pretty much connected with what I wanted to ask you next. Like the question from Philip is how long was the implementation of lead management in KBC? And maybe I will add a little bit more in there, how do you approach the implementation. I mean, six countries, four in the international markets. How did you approach the implementation, taking into account that it might be different maturity levels in all of the countries of lead management, etc. So this for me is really interesting to get to know.

Bogdan Manea: What I was saying is that lead management was present in in KBC. This is not something launched recently with high hopes. It's running. But I will also address your second question. We were always doing lead management. But as you are also referring to with different approaches and so on. But as of 2019, we have approached it in a more structured way by creating a group wide strategic initiatives around lead management, aiming basically to also developing the framework that I was referring to, each country defining its own ambition level and consequently roadmap. And while doing so, it was also the intention to consolidate or align the ICT architecture around like opting for common solutions. And we have a very good and recent example, the implementation of Exponea in five of the six KBC entities across the group, which comes with all the benefits which you for sure know to be able to release more copy from one country to the other, to exchange information, best practices, worst practices and so on and so forth. And I think another very important element is not enough to set a goal and basically start progressing towards that goal. It's also important to be joined in this one by strong partners. And I would also recognize here the strong support of Adastra in the lead management journey that we have started.

Martin Obetko: Uh, thank you for for the nice words about Adastra. And actually, this is one of the questions. What benefits did Adastra bring as an implementation partner? Maybe not to have the promo for Adastra, but it's always nice to hear.

Bogdan Manea: I can share with you what is very appreciated. The same way we are coordinating internally our efforts towards the shared goal. We have experienced the same very well effective and professional cooperation on the Adastra side. And what I personally really liked, it's the way Adastra was able to leverage certain assets capabilities developed in one country and replicating other entities in other KBC entities, therefore making the whole implementation easier and faster and without any explicit request from our side. Obviously, it was also very much appreciated the expertise and we have reached out and we continue to do so to reach out to Adastra to get benchmarks because it's not very smart, I would say, to start reinventing the wheel every time you start a new initiative. That's why we always appreciated the input coming from others.

Martin Obetko: Thank you very much. And another question. About the channels. I mean, that is kind of very important these days, it's a digital channel. You also mentioned that you moved a little bit to digital first approach. And the question here is, do you also do some backtracking and personalization? How do you use web as a channel?

Bogdan Manea: Yes, we do. We mainly do it in Czech Republic, because the idea is whenever a customer is looking on our public websites, it should not be just landing on a generic website or page with information that probably is not relevant for him. Therefore, content personalization is key. Ideally, you would like to be able whenever somebody is browsing your website, to show him exactly the information, who is looking, what he is looking for, not to waste his time with other useful or like frustrate even more the customer to be able to dig around your website for relevant information. And we are doing these again. This is not something new with different technologies. We were doing also that in the past to the extent possible, of course, but now we have taken to the next level with the use of Exponea and the other in, in this area is indeed CSOB in Czech Republic, but also the other entities. And as a matter of fact, even today, and that's the reality, we have a what we call an expert advisory board meeting where we bring we bring all countries together and the colleagues from Czech Republic will share that experience with the web layers of web experiments.

Martin Obetko: Very nice. So, indeed, KBC is really looking at the customer in the omnichannel digital first environment. You said that the customer is going to the branch, online etc. And the idea and the goal is to be consistent with the communication and to have the relevant content, even on the web, even in the email, even everywhere that you communicate with the customers. Yes, that's really right. We have one more question, and I think it will be the last one because we are slowly running out of time. The question is about Exponea. Why did you choose it? How satisfied are you with it? And what do you think about the merger with Bloomreach, which was the recent news.

Bogdan Manea: Well, on the second part of the question, I would refrain from giving an answer because we have received the news as anybody else and we are following the developments. I can only hope that it will be for the best. On the first part of the question why we have used Exponea is I would summarise it in two points. Because it's digitally native, it‘s not an enhanced operational CRM trying to cope with the new digital realities. That would be one. And the second point I would say is the single customer view. Everybody's most likely dealing with the same challenge of scattered customer information across systems, difficult or most likely difficult to integrate interactions via different channels to be able to see, you know from a customer perspective that he was using a certain call center to ask something or make the website. And I think this is one of the core elements of Exponea, the single customer view and everything what they have built around it, around capabilities to be able to. Once you know the customer, you move away from what you are mentioning, nothing about the carpet bombing and it is one size fits all. And then you can really go towards personalized relevant offers. Which the customers will definitely appreciate.

Martin Obetko: It was really pleasure to talk with you. I'm glad that we could share this experience also with colleagues that are participants in this meeting. Thank you very much for this session and talk to you soon and hope that you will enjoy also some other sessions within the Adastra Data Innovation Day.

Bogdan Manea: Yeah, thank you for the invitation and indeed looking forward to also join some of the other sessions Martin.

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Martin Obetko: Uh, thank you for for the nice words about Adastra. And actually, this is one of the questions. What benefits did Adastra bring as an implementation partner? Maybe not to have the promo for Adastra, but it's always nice to hear.

Bogdan Manea: I can share with you what is very appreciated. The same way we are coordinating internally our efforts towards the shared goal. We have experienced the same very well effective and professional cooperation on the Adastra side. And what I personally really liked, it's the way Adastra was able to leverage certain assets capabilities developed in one country and replicating other entities in other KBC entities, therefore making the whole implementation easier and faster and without any explicit request from our side. Obviously, it was also very much appreciated the expertise and we have reached out and we continue to do so to reach out to Adastra to get benchmarks because it's not very smart, I would say, to start reinventing the wheel every time you start a new initiative. That's why we always appreciated the input coming from others.

Martin Obetko: Thank you very much. And another question. About the channels. I mean, that is kind of very important these days, it's a digital channel. You also mentioned that you moved a little bit to digital first approach. And the question here is, do you also do some backtracking and personalization? How do you use web as a channel?

Bogdan Manea: Yes, we do. We mainly do it in Czech Republic, because the idea is whenever a customer is looking on our public websites, it should not be just landing on a generic website or page with information that probably is not relevant for him. Therefore, content personalization is key. Ideally, you would like to be able whenever somebody is browsing your website, to show him exactly the information, who is looking, what he is looking for, not to waste his time with other useful or like frustrate even more the customer to be able to dig around your website for relevant information. And we are doing these again. This is not something new with different technologies. We were doing also that in the past to the extent possible, of course, but now we have taken to the next level with the use of Exponea and the other in, in this area is indeed CSOB in Czech Republic, but also the other entities. And as a matter of fact, even today, and that's the reality, we have a what we call an expert advisory board meeting where we bring we bring all countries together and the colleagues from Czech Republic will share that experience with the web layers of web experiments.

Martin Obetko: Very nice. So, indeed, KBC is really looking at the customer in the omnichannel digital first environment. You said that the customer is going to the branch, online etc. And the idea and the goal is to be consistent with the communication and to have the relevant content, even on the web, even in the email, even everywhere that you communicate with the customers. Yes, that's really right. We have one more question, and I think it will be the last one because we are slowly running out of time. The question is about Exponea. Why did you choose it? How satisfied are you with it? And what do you think about the merger with Bloomreach, which was the recent news.

Bogdan Manea: Well, on the second part of the question, I would refrain from giving an answer because we have received the news as anybody else and we are following the developments. I can only hope that it will be for the best. On the first part of the question why we have used Exponea is I would summarise it in two points. Because it's digitally native, it‘s not an enhanced operational CRM trying to cope with the new digital realities. That would be one. And the second point I would say is the single customer view. Everybody's most likely dealing with the same challenge of scattered customer information across systems, difficult or most likely difficult to integrate interactions via different channels to be able to see, you know from a customer perspective that he was using a certain call center to ask something or make the website. And I think this is one of the core elements of Exponea, the single customer view and everything what they have built around it, around capabilities to be able to. Once you know the customer, you move away from what you are mentioning, nothing about the carpet bombing and it is one size fits all. And then you can really go towards personalized relevant offers. Which the customers will definitely appreciate.

Martin Obetko: It was really pleasure to talk with you. I'm glad that we could share this experience also with colleagues that are participants in this meeting. Thank you very much for this session and talk to you soon and hope that you will enjoy also some other sessions within the Adastra Data Innovation Day.

Bogdan Manea: Yeah, thank you for the invitation and indeed looking forward to also join some of the other sessions Martin.