August 8, 2012 – PNC’s John DeMarchis believes he’s found a way to remove static from his bank’s interactions with customers. The Pittsburgh-based bank is using new flexible and automated work processes to create a world in which customers contact the institution and immediately receive the proper message in the right channel, free of the kind of out-of-date, stagnant content that’s inhibited cross-selling and true one-to-one marketing at financial institutions for years.

“It’s extremely exciting,” says DeMarchis, senior vice president of customer management for PNC. “We view it as having huge possibilities in terms of how we interact with our customers. The performance of mail and telemarketing is deteriorating and those channels are actually irritating consumers. This [new initiative] enables us to deliver interactions the way customers want to see a message, when they want to see it. It’s a big part of the future way that we’re going to be interacting with customers.”

Banks have long spoken about the need to properly match cross sales and marketing to inbound customer service queries without annoying the customer with unwanted products, or even worse, pitching products the customer already has. By using business process management software in conjunction with data management, business intelligence and web services, PNC is automating the mix of manual, paper and data entry-heavy processes that were previously used to retrieve customer and transaction information, analyze it, make a decision on the next move, and deliver that “next move” as a cross-selling addendum to a service query.

The bank’s goal is to enable a real-time experience for each consumer at each inbound point of contact. It’s a new kind of business process management project (BPM) in which not only labor and slower electronic steps are being automated or streamlined to remove manual processes, but a new layer of Web-enabled agility is also being added to the retrieval and delivery of data and tailored content. PNC is not alone – banks all over the world are embracing these new BPM tools and techniques to tackle a variety of challenges, both for customer facing initiatives and back office tasks.

“The more exciting things around business process management right now are the ability to couple customer analytics with things like customer profitability or customer lifetime value measurements, delivering outcomes that are a function of real-time analytics,” says Bob Meara, a senior analyst at Celent. “Not long ago, real time analytics was a pipedream.”

At PNC, process automation is being used to handle inbound queries and the bank is developing similar capabilities for outbound interaction. DeMarchis says the value is in comprehensive customer service – the new process coordinates all actions from a customer and uses data analysis and business rules to determine “the next best action.”

PNC is accessing customer data on a real-time or near-real-time basis and is integrating it into three channels: online, ATM and call center. A decisioning engine examines inbound customer activity, and based on data analytics, automatically makes a decision on a course of action or a message to that customer.

Instead of handing all of the steps in this process manually, which would likely not allow for real time action and info, the different work steps in the customer service process have been automated for speed and accuracy. “We call them customer treatments. It could be a cross sale, a purchase of a new product, or a service, such as ‘we’ve been informed by a merchant that your credit card has been compromised, and we’re shutting it down and issuing a new one,'” says DeMarchis.

Pegasystems developed the decision management engine, which the bank has licensed to be the heart of the strategy. The bank is integrating channel platforms to automate the steps between the data analysis and the message delivery. PNC has built a web services layer around the Pegasystems product to integrate with the channel systems.

The Pegasystems solution receives and analyzes customer data and the reason for that customer’s contact, and makes a decision on the next action for that customer based on the transaction and personal data. That decision is delivered through the web services layer to the point systems that manage the creative and design for the content delivered to the different channels: on the website, PNC uses HTML and Java-based landing pages; ATM content is integrated into Diebold’s campaign technology, and in the call center the bank uses Recommendation Advisor, a Pegasystems customer service product.

Pegasystems describes its platform as a “brain” that automatically informs decisions during a financial process, such as steps during a mortgage loan process, or matching service queries to personalized marketing or sales. The software aggregates and inputs transaction and user data into its analytics engine, then configures the decision-making process uniformly for different kinds of decisions. This way the people underwriting a loan or handling customer service calls, for example, can use the same business rules to ensure continuity in workflow automation across the enterprise. An automatic data technique or form that’s been automated for a loan application can also be used for customer service or security. This continuity is also designed to make it easier to update and use more data, and pull information from broader sources, such as internal databases with a long history of customer transactions, or intelligence from unstructured sources such as social network analysis.

“By having this one ‘brain,’ you can get consistent decisions across channels. So if you have an offer or a risk mitigation in one channel, it’s the same at all of the other channels, because all of the channels are connected to the same decision engine,” says Rob Walker, vice president for decision management and analytics for Pegasystems, which competes with large tech firms such as IBM and SAP to provide BPM tech, as well as BPM-focused firms such as Colosa and BP Logix.

Previously, PNC would attempt to boost sales for inbound service queries by preloading a predefined list of customers, such as a group of 100,000 customers that were eligible for a home equity line of credit offer, into its CRM system. “That list would be waiting at the contact center for customers to call in and get a recommendation from an employee for that product.”

Worth reading on the 8 Trends in BPM for banking business.