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Ulster Bank is one of the traditional Big Four Irish banks, operating both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and providing a full spectrum of banking and insurance services. Ulster Bank forms part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), with around 3,000 employees serving approximately 1.9 million personal, business and commercial customers.
Starting with a small cohort of Salesforce pilot users within the private banking department back in 2016, Ulster Bank was eventually able to grow a strong army of brand ambassadors eager to push the technology forward across the rest of the bank – almost 500 relationship managers managed to blaze their Salesforce trail through Trailhead and got trained up in just a 10-week period.
And now, less than a year after a full-scale Salesforce Einstein CRM implementation, the bank claimed to have earned the industry’s highest Net Promoter Score, which helped them achieve their ambitious vision “to be the number one bank for customer service, trust and advocacy”.
When giving her speech at Salesforce World Tour in London in May 2018, Maeve McMahon, Head of Marketing and Communications at Ulster Bank, announced: “In Ulster Bank actually we’ve achieved our vision of being number one. I’m happy to say that based on our NPS scores in 2018 we reached number one both on our retail and commercial franchises”.
How It All Began
When McMahon came on board of Ulster Bank from GE Capital in 2015 (she was asked to join in and head up the new Customer Experience and Products Department), “there was a very big lack of customer focus”. By that time, they had already had Salesforce license but it was a kind of bane of their business managers lives. They had the tool, but didn’t know how to make the most out of it and open up the richness of sales data they had to help relationship managers breathe new life into customer relationships.
Prior to adopting Salesforce, it was too much of a hassle for relationship managers to find out about the customer before they engaged with them. So, Ulster Bank felt an urgent need to come up with a comprehensive solution that would help them remove time-sapping manual processes and put the customer at the heart of what they do. “If we had the richness of the sales data, we could actually empower our relationship managers to go forward, to take the pain out of their everyday life with paperwork, with manual intervention, with things that don’t go right by just using the technology that we had in our fingertips”, said McMahon.
In light of this, the overriding objectives for Ulster Bank were
• To help relationship managers get better informed through giving them quicker and better access to sales data and customer information.
• To put customers at the heart of their business and be in sync with what customers want.
• To build richer customer relationships and thereby improve end-to-end customer experience.
To deliver on their strategic objectives, they needed a complete revamp of the existing Salesforce CRM platform, with Salesforce Einstein AI integration being key to successful customer relationship transformation.
Staying Ahead of the Curve with Smart Predictions and Follow-ups
Basically, Ulster Bank was a pioneer in leveraging Einstein AI capabilities Salesforce baked into the platform across all its SaaS products. “We were first in the market if not first in the world to use AI Einstein in the Salesforce tools in that way”, said McMahon.
First off, Ulster Bank acquired Sales Cloud Einstein that is intended to help sales reps implement predictive lead and opportunity scoring as well as get actionable insights into customer data and accurate forecasts. This empowers Ulster Bank’s relationship managers with the insights they need to focus their efforts on the leads and the opportunities that are most likely to become closed won based on their numerical score or take quicker actions on at-risk opportunities.
One of the AI-powered features from Einstein their Salesforce platform was infused with can be found among Lightning components (btw, Ulster Bank migrated to Lightning Experience as part of the transformation). This is a custom-built Einstein Analytics component, capable of identifying a discrepancy between what the sales teams think they’re going to close and what Einstein thinks they’re going to close by means of crunching through millions of data points beyond the Salesforce data. For example, it can drill through large data sets in the outsider transactional systems and figure out that there’s been an increase in transactions which are not carried out by Ulster Bank, meaning they are about to lose their business to the competition.
Along with the opportunity to recognize when the deal is on the verge of falling through, Ulster Bank was also empowered with the option to look behind the scenes and work out why this is happening. Now there is no need for Ulster Bank to have an in-house group of data scientists to sift through terabytes of data – all the data science is now being done by AI-powered Einstein Discovery that is designed to surface data-driven insights explaining why you are about to lose sales in an easy-to-understand business language as well as deliver guided recommendations on the best actions to take to address vulnerabilities and enhance win rates.
Making Team Collaboration Easier
Since sales process is a team work, it was critical for Ulster Bank to make team collaboration even easier. To that end, they connected their Salesforce org to Quip which is a collaboration platform meant to combine your team’s work and communication in one place that can be easily accessed from every device. Quip enables the whole team to live-edit documents and spreadsheets embedded into them at the same time, add comments, and have chat conversations right inside the document, while also giving its users a kind of document and spreadsheet look-and-feel they are accustomed to and comfortable with. Now Ulster Bank employees do not have to waste their precious time getting things done in one place and then moving to another to share documents and collaborate on them.
Furthermore, the bank’s Quip users are empowered to take full advantage of Live Apps, which allows them to bring in apps from Salesforce or third parties directly into the Quip platform, so that they can have all the tools they need in one place. For one, if they want to do all of the project management within the Quip document, they can pull in the TaskRay tool which is a third-party project management solution one hundred percent native to the Salesforce platform.
Blazing the Trail for Effective Marketing and Increased Sales
Today, everybody in Ulster Bank is a trailblazer. To help their employees advance on the Salesforce and AI journey and grow their skills faster, Ulster Bank adopted the myTrailhead product. This is an innovative, easy-to-customize gamified online learning platform, that lets you harness the power of the Trailhead platform but tailor the learning environment to your own organization with your own branded content and elements in just a few clicks. That way, when the sales teams or the relationship managers log in to complete the trails, it doesn’t look like Trailhead anymore. Rather, it looks like Ulster Bank’s own learning platform with the branded look-and-feel, which has revolutionized the culture of learning for Ulster Bank.
Let’s pause right here for a while and consider an example. Ulster Bank is going to launch a new product, that’s why they have created a personalized learning path for this product with Trail Mixer Salesforce integrated into myTrailhed. Upon completing a custom Trailhead module to better understand the new product and earning a certain number of badges required to get qualified for the task, the sales rep is ready to move forward to find customers who are the perfect fit for this product. So the sales rep goes to Explorer, and using conversational queries (which is a brand-new feature) they can ask data questions in non-technical natural language, and afterwards explore data displayed in automatically configured charts. As a result, they can get customer segments that are the right fit for the product. This is where Pardot comes in.
To help marketers and relationship managers market to relevant customer segments in an efficient and timely manner and thereby speed up the sales cycle, Ulster Bank decided to take full advantage of Pardot. This is a Salesforce full-featured marketing automation tool designed to automate marketing activities and join together marketing and sales departments so that they can work together productively to deliver killer marketing campaigns, enhance lead nurturing, accelerate pipelines and eventually close more deals.
For example, now Ulster Bank’s sales teams can add relevant groups of customers to a Pardot campaign which, say, has been set up for a specific product promotion. And here’s the thing: Pardot allows tracking prospects as they are moving forward on their Pardot journey and interacting with Ulster Bank. Based on their behavior and specific actions they take, prospects are assigned scores – a numerical value indicating how interested they are in the product. On top of that, Pardot lets its users set the score threshold indicating that the prospect is qualified and ready to be assigned to the sales team for a follow-up. That way, when the score reaches the threshold, Pardot will automatically notify the relationship manager that one of their customers is interested in this product. After receiving the notification, the relationship manager can dig deeper into the data and arm themselves with valuable information needed to nudge prospects further down the pipeline into a closed sale.
The nice thing about it is that it’s a win-win for both Ulster Bank and its customers, in that Pardot campaigns help their clients eventually get the product that they didn’t know existed and Ulster Bank offered, whilst enabling relationship managers to have a conversation with the customer about a product that they didn’t know the customer needed.
Achieving Ambitions Goals
In record-breaking time Ulster Bank was able to complete a pioneering Einstein implementation, which helped them achieve their overriding ambition to become the number one bank in Ireland. Along with that, the innovative solution opens up a new avenue of potential opportunities Ulster Bank had been seeking prior to implementation:
• The renovated Salesforce platform with Einstein AI brought into the heart of Ulster Bank affords an unprecedented opportunity to instantly get access to comprehensive AI-enabled actionable insights into customer data, which empowers relationship managers to quickly identify and more effectively respond to unique customer needs and expectations.
• The acquired capability to gain deeper understanding of customers allows Ulster Bank to place the customer front and center of their business, personalize engagements with them, and thereby wholly transform their customer relationship.
• What’s more, this revolutionary implementation of the Einstein AI tool will also empower Ulster Bank to improve their targeting, better understand the reasons behind lost opportunities as well as predict and recommend the right product to the right customer.
“With the new platform, we have changed the system, the culture and the way our people interact with customers. The pace of change was phenomenal and now we have a CRM system with customer 360-degree view, generating insights to develop our business and moving us far ahead in the Irish banking market”, explains Damien Judge, Head of Business Commercial Excellence at Ulster Bank. “For the first time Ulster Bank went into profit. It shows that the bank is moving right off legacy issues and into being open for business”.
Building on these astonishing results, Ulster Bank is not going to get complacent. Rather, they’ve set their sights on pushing boundaries as well as moving their transformation journey forward to enhance the NPS score across the other subsidiaries of the RBS Group. “I was asked to be a marketing director for the Royal Bank of Scotland. We were able to use Ulster Bank as a testbed for innovation, for data and for doing things a little bit differently”, said Maeve McMahon. “I was taken out of Ulster Bank and brought in to the mothership to see how I could help. NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lombard – all the brands within our franchise over here to do some of the same stuff by focusing on our customers, by helping the bank achieve its vision of being the number one bank for service, trust and advocacy”.