Social media data is notoriously unstructured and difficult to analyse. Banks worldwide are figuring out the best ways to evaluate data coming from their social channels. Valentina Romeo speaks to Nedbank to learn more about their new social media analytics and how they position themselves in the SA
Data is arguably one of the banking industry’s most valuable assets. Today, many financial services organisations are focusing on how efficiently use Big Data to derive more insight about their customers and business. The social media channel represents one of the key trackers to assess these data. Apart from cutting down marketing costs and enhancing revenues, the new engagement of IBM with South African Nedbank to analyse their social media content has the goal to deliver a more personalised customer experience in a fast-growing competitive market.
The new analytic tool offered by IBM provides decision makers across the bank’s operations with deep analysis of social media data through visual dashboards of customer feedback and opinion. Through this tool, marketers can register insights regarding preferences, sentiment and satisfaction that help them craft and deliver more effective promotions and messages. "By improving our social media analytics capabilities, we’re engaging with our customers on a one-to-one basis, to address and anticipate their needs more cohesively, and taking better advantage of opportunities," says Eugene Liebenberg, head of retail BISS decision science support (DSS), Nedbank.
The tool uses a combination of IBM predicative analytics: the SPSS Collaboration and Deployment Services, and the SPSS Modeler. The first service allows the bank to manage analytical assets and automate processes in the existing infrastructure provided by the lender. Furthermore, IBM SPSS Modeler combines a range of algorithms and techniques designed to bring intelligence to decisions made by individuals, groups, systems and the enterprise. With this urgent need to enter the social media arena, Liebenberg tells RBI: "We choose IBM because of the ease of use of the tool and also because of the integration of sentiment analysis and categorisation in one tool only. Their capabilities in multiple installations, also from a cost perspective were the most useful for us."
Nedbank is experiencing a period of explosive growth and is investing in modernising its banking architectures and processing systems. It has over 6m clients, of which 2m were acquired over the last two years. By using IBM advanced analytics, Nedbank is therefore in a prime position to promote high profit margins and increase crossselling opportunities. As a result of this technology implementation, the bank has already reduced social media monitoring costs by more than ZAR1m a year ($105,000 per year), while boosting customer service productivity levels by 20%. With social media jumping to the core of its strategic marketing arsenal, Nedbank says it needed to make a comparable leap in its ability to extract insights from social media feedback. "We began this journey making sure that data could enhance the bank activity and customer evaluation," Craig Smee, head of social media communications, Nedbank, says. "We are considerably ahead of the curve from the prospective of integrating social dialogue into our normal customer’s activity," Smee adds. He also says: "Since we started and up until now, I would definitely say that, if we had to do everything manually we would have been 50 to 100% behind where we are now. "We used another tool before, but now we want to raise awareness of what is happening in our social media space. We want to measure social media inputs like we do with all our channels. A lot of tools in the market don’t allow you to do that."
With the new software, Nedbank can sharply focus its marketing campaigns with the tool making every operation simpler as it is integrated into the bank’s existing systems. Liebenberg says: "Because we put data into databases, we are able to amend it in real time. Also, the tool can operate though case management, registering info on top of comments and conversations." He adds: "If we want to change something in the dashboard, we just go and change the database structure behind the scenes. Previously, because we used external vendors it was quite a process. The vendor was the software provider and the context categorisations and sentiment analysis took up to 2-3 months to be completed." According to Liedenberg, clients have also been moving away from Twitter and Facebook and accessing the ‘Linkedin environment’, opting for blogs and article-related conversations. "There is quite of a difference between Facebook and Twitter, so you have different profiles coming out from different channels. That also comes from the accessibility to the Internet and other platforms in South Africa locally." Smee adds that Nedbank strategy is also focused on looking at existing customers and the trend regarding their social media behaviour. "We are not only able to check on frames that are happening globally, we are able to track it down into our clients’ space so that we can translate that into a better experience for them," he says.
On top of competition
The African banking market is rapidly growing, both in client numbers, as well as in the number of channels that banks use to interact with the clientele. With the implementation of IBM analytics Nedbank stands out from competition, also making sure all compliance and security matters get efficiently covered. Smee clarifies his view: "No one else has got this capability in hands at the moment. "I think this methodology and the whole process is definitely not new, but we have been the first ones to actually get it down." Liebenberg recently said the bank has also been successful in setting up discussions with customers from rival banks and persuading them to move their accounts. Says Liebenberg: "Because we are tracking our competitors, we can target some of their customers and switch them across."