Bank Boosts Revenue With Overhaul of Its Application Process

No matter how much it tried to market, sell and service consumers on its Web site, French bank Societe Generale realized that online application completion rates remained as dismal as ever.

But help from San Francisco firm Kefta on where to focus marketing and improve customer experience online yielded more than 2,000 financial applications in less than six months. That would have been impossible without reactivation pop-ups at and lead control.

“Societe Generale realized that it was unable to service its customers because it lacked an understanding of its online customer needs,” said Philippe Suchet, CEO of Kefta. “Societe Generale didn't know what customers wanted to buy online or how they wanted to buy online.”

The bank was painfully aware that 70 percent of its online applications were being abandoned. The products included 10 online financial applications for consumers. In this pot were personal loans, checking and savings accounts, mortgages and credit cards.

Among the issues the bank sought answers for: Where were consumers dropping out of the application process? Why were they dropping out? How to re-engage them? And what to do to prevent others from dropping out?

The bank had another problem: little control over leads generated online. It was little use if no sales representative followed up on applications completed online. Thousands of online applications distributed across the bank's 2,000-odd branches were lost in a fog of marketing. No one knew how many were followed up or how many closed.

The distill of this mess was that closing online applications meant that Web leads had to dovetail with Societe Generale's broader sales channel strategy.

Kefta's solution included 10 revenue-acceleration programs for cross-selling, e-mail marketing and lead optimization. Engaging the consumer through personalized, responsive messages was key.

Only now is the bank gaining insights into consumers through tracking and surveying. They are then automatically re-engaged with targeted messages if they abandon online.

“[There was] a high willingness of users to enter into a dialogue with them through reactivation pop-ups,” Suchet said.

The bank found that 12 percent to 25 percent of prospects who abandon respond to Kefta-generated pop-ups. The further the prospect is in the online application process, the greater the pop-up fill rate.

“People do not see context-specific pop-ups and requests for e-mail addresses as intrusive,” Suchet said.

Cross-selling programs, too, met a favorable response, he said. One out of four who get a cross-selling offer click through to view the offer more carefully. And 23 percent of those who view cross-sale offers buy them. The bank claims a 5 percent cross-sell success rate.

Similarly, gaining control of its online lead distribution process was crucial to Societe Generale's plans. Once a customer submits an online application and it is forwarded to a local sales representative, an e-mail is automatically generated. The customer is informed of the application's progress.

What Kefta knew and the bank did not was that nine out of 10 prospects who complete an online application turn into customers when followed up. At Societe Generale, local branch sales reps allegedly followed up half of all online leads.

Though it will not disclose numbers from such efforts, Kefta claims Societe Generale has increased revenue from online applications 20 percent to 30 percent.

“Societe Generale is getting access to knowledge metrics that matter — fill rates, open rates, completion rates, abandonment rates, response rates — metrics that change strategies and impact the bottom line,” Suchet said.

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