MIR: Today ING-DiBa is the third largest private bank in the highly competitive German retail banking market, despite not having any branches. How is this possible?
Martin Schmidberger: In a market as competitive as the German retail banking market, approximately 2,000 banks are competing for the customers’ favor. To be successful you have to understand the requirements and desires of your customers perfectly and ideally reflect these in your products. Along with our focus on simple and transparent products, we became involved very early in the analysis of customer data. We recognized that the systematic use of data can lead to a better understanding of customer behavior and customer needs and we regard this knowledge as one of our core assets.
MIR: How do you get to know your customers at a direct bank? What kind of information helps you understand your customers?
Martin Schmidberger: Many of our analytical questions concern our customers’ experience with us as a bank when they use our products: What channels do they employ, what products do they use? What options are used frequently or less frequently? How do customers get information about other products and services? What procedures do they complain about? Which customers recommend us to others? We can learn a lot from the results of the analyses and optimize products accordingly.
MIR: Also, sales management is surely different at a direct bank. How do you sell additional services to customers who are never seen in person?
Martin Schmidberger: Of course, numerous analyses revolve around the topic of sales. Here, we evaluate customer behavior in order to determine purchasing probabilities using predictive modeling. Based on these probabilities, we manage and optimize our sales, both in the acquisition of new customers and in cross-selling. In the process, we rely increasingly on digital channels. Daily we have approximately 400,000 logins to our internet banking service and almost 200,000 accesses from mobile devices – that contrasts with about 20,000 incoming calls. Well over 90% of our customer contacts already occur digitally today.