Nationwide deploys SAS analytics to improve customer experience

Email analysis helps Nationwide better understand customer issues and resolve common problems faster

Analytics leader SAS is helping Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, to analyse customer interactions more effectively so it can solve members’ problems earlier. A successful proof-of-concept (POC) was able to establish significant inefficiencies as more than half of all email enquiries could be resolved instead by guiding members towards digital channels.

Many members contact the building society via secure emails sent when they are logged into online banking. Nationwide used SAS to understand the types of enquiries it receives via this channel and look for better ways to manage them. The SAS solutions comprise artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to help companies accurately identify elements of customer communication that could be improved.

In the PoC, the analysts identified the root cause of each email enquiry, whether the query was resolved, and how many emails were exchanged in the process. Sentiment analysis from the SAS solutions helped Nationwide to detect the member’s mood; for instance, unsurprisingly, analysts identified that people’s moods worsen as the number of emails rises.

It established that over half of the emails could have been avoided entirely. Ten per cent of members who sent a secure email said that their transaction had not been resolved first time around in another channel. Another 19 per cent were not resolved the first time they sent a secure email, and a further 26 per cent of requests concerned transactions that could be moved to an online digital process.

An important factor attracting people to Nationwide is its award-winning service; it has a 4.6 per cent lead on the industry’s customer satisfaction index. To build on this success which was putting extra demands on its contact centre, it set out to investigate why members get in touch and find better ways of resolving their queries.

Graeme Reed, Senior Manager of Analytics at Nationwide, remarked: “Our recent growth has put pressure on our contact centre, which now receives over 800,000 calls every month. We needed to investigate how we could improve other communication channels to reduce call volumes.”

The partnership with SAS was able to identify a number of different solutions for customers, depending on the precise nature of the request.

“Using SAS text analytics, we established several concrete ways to make our service better,” explains Graeme. “For example, many members contact us for proof of the travel insurance gained with the FlexPlus current account. The documents are available on our website – if we make them easier to find, more people will access them on a self-service basis.

“We also found that members often ask for a paper statement, because our online statements did not contain sufficient personal information to function as proof of address. By tweaking the statement format, we can eliminate these requests. And if several members contact us about transactions that cannot be completed online, we can consider building a digital capability to meet their needs.”

Equipped with this insight, Nationwide is now proactively working to improve other channels to reduce the number of member enquiries.

“By guiding members towards digital channels and avoiding unnecessary enquiries, we eliminated significant inefficiencies from secure emails alone. We can now reinvest those savings in other products and services to improve customer service across the business. We are currently deploying SAS Viya to take our analytics capabilities to the next level, completing straightforward tasks much more quickly and automatically interpreting and classifying complaints to free up employee resource.”

Graeme concludes: “Analytics has become a major focus area within Nationwide. SAS continues to form a key pillar of our analytics landscape. We enjoy working with SAS, and we are excited to see what we can achieve with them in future.”

“AI applications like text analytics and natural language processing are revolutionising the way companies like Nationwide interact with their customers,” said Charles Senabulya, VP & Country Manager at SAS UK & Ireland. “SAS’ deployment will help Nationwide tailor its website and contact channels to its customers’ specific needs. Advanced analytics and AI give companies the deep insight needed to ensure customers are delighted by their experience. We look forward to helping Nationwide break further ground and build on its excellent customer service record.”

Find out more about how SAS is working with Nationwide.

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