by Tim Lohman

CommBank Launches New-look NetBank

May 18, 20094 mins
Financial Services IndustryRisk Management

The Commonwealth Bank has announced an upgrade of its customer service portal, NetBank, aimed at creating a single site, sign on and password for customers to access a wider range of the bank’s Web sites and services.

Once logged on to NetBank, customers will be able to access and apply for products and services from ComSec, ComBiz, Colonial First State, NetBank and ComInsure.

The upgrade also sees the bank shifting more of its traditional in-bank transactions — such as opening accounts and accepting contracts — online. Documents, such as loan contracts, can now be scanned or photographed then uploaded to the site, instead of being mailed.

Business banking customers will be able to access features such as 24 hour transfers, letters of credit and basic business banking functions such as a stop cheque requests.

Both sets of customers will be able to initiate Web chat sessions with customer service staff via the site. Customers will be able to customise the site’s interface so they can access information relevant to them. The bank will also make greater use of analytics to provide relevant information, as well as targeted advertisements and promotions, to its customers on the site.

The changes follow a two month trial with 10,000 NetBank users testing the new interface and services, said Ross McEwan, head of retail banking at the Commonwealth Bank.

McEwan said the changes to its online portal are a reflection of the move toward the growing importance of customer service, and customers’ shift toward online as their preferred communication channel with the bank.

“Customer preferences are changing and customer service issues are becoming more complex,” he said. “When we started Internet Banking in 1997 online was used for checking balances and making transfers, now online is taking the lion’s share of customer servicing transactions and simple sales.”

McEwan said the bank’s NetBank users had grown from some 68,000 users 12 years ago to some 2.6 million active users and 4 million current registered users. Some 60,000 new registrations for online banking are being received each month and around $20 billion worth of transactions per month are being made using NetBank.

The upgraded NetBank site is also part of a wider shift at the bank to raise its customer service standards and place the customer at the centre of the bank’s business, McEwan said.

“For years we were the clear bottom in customer service. . . and we were losing share of our business customers for decades,” he said. “That started to change with Ralph Norris as our customer champion, and now these changes are designed to make customer interaction easier.”

McEwan claimed some 70 percent of the 10,000 NetBank trial customers approved of the changes to the site.

According to Commonwealth Bank CIO and group executive services, Michael Harte, the bank had also seen a 30 percent jump it Internet traffic to, and corresponding spike in sales of, its superannuation, insurance and investment products.

Harte also said that the changes to NetBank were part of a larger strategy aimed at taking the bank’s internal systems and processes, such as its ComSee CRM system, out to the public domain and into customers’ hands.

“Three years ago we had our ComSee capability for our call centres; now we are delivering it to our customers,” he said. “Customers can now manage their own accounts, products and services.”

Harte said that the bank would also promote greater use of NetBank through a boost in security. Under its own Guard Dog brand, the bank will offer customers increased security via two factor authentication, Hawk-I transaction monitoring and fraud prevention, and a 100 percent guarantee to indemnify its users against any losses from fraud.

The bank also intends to issue monthly updates and new services under the NetBank Platform, such as a series of desktop widgets, similar to those available in Vista, which will display information such as the current balance of, and recent transactions in, customer accounts.