Nearly 50 percent of the Turkish population today is under 30. They’re graduating from college, starting a family and buying their first car — just like their parents did. But this generation’s consumer habits are quite different from their parent’s. Akbank uses analytics to optimize its marketing communications to attract this segment of the population while retaining its older, loyal customers.
I sat down with Attila Bayrak, Senior Vice President of Customer Relationship Management for Akbank, to learn more about the bank’s data-optimization strategy and how it’s reaching out to Turkey’s young, well-educated customer base.
Q: Like a lot of banks, you’re starting to look at how you can use data to strengthen your relationships with your customers. How does analytics help you accomplish that?
Bayrak: We have billions of transactions from millions of customers across hundreds of products. You could say that we find ourselves in the midst of an optimization challenge. About 10 years ago, we began developing systems to better align our marketing and sales activities with our customers’ needs and behaviors. We wanted to base our marketing decisions on analysis of the patterns of our customer interactions.
We’re making big strides, and it’s reducing costs and improving results, but it’s like trying to change the wheels on a train while it’s moving down the tracks. We are changing and will continue to transform our business using the insights from our customer data.
Q: What are some of the changes you have implemented based on your analysis of customer interactions?
We need to attract and keep the under-30 customer segment. We have to develop the products, services and channels that are relevant to them. So we’ve recently overhauled our customer relationship management infrastructure, and we’re seeing some good results. But of course we don’t want to neglect our older customers who’ve been loyal to us for many years. To market most effectively to each segment, we must optimize our investment in technology.
Q: What channels are you optimizing to reach the younger demographic?
We are using eight or nine channels — mobile branches and applications, web branches, ATMs, call centers, dynamic emailing and some SMS. We have some point-of-sale touch points, and we’re using social media. In fact, our corporate Facebook account has more than 1.2 million followers.
Q: Do you think your marketing optimization is giving you an advantage over your competitors?
Yes. The marketing strategy for many financial services providers is all about cross-sell and up-sell. Our goal, of course, is to increase our business results, but we don’t think we have the luxury of disturbing our customers. So we are using offers that are more relevant to them, and we’re doing that based on an analysis of the data we collect. If we provide a customized offer to the customer then it will fulfill the need of the customer and bring profit to the bank.
Q: What are your future plans for optimization?
We’re a much more disciplined company because of our optimization. But we must still be careful. We’re a well-established brand in Turkey, and trust in that brand is probably our biggest asset. We must protect that trust level that has been created.
In the future, we want to do more with the structured data and get the internal and external data sources aligned. We’re doing a good job of communicating with our customers; we understand them, and we have the products and services they need. We’re able to customize and bundle. We just need to continue to evolve in how we can most effectively deliver our message.
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