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CX Q&A with Dann Allen

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Dann Allen

Vice President, RBG Customer Experience
Bank of the West

Bank of the West is one of the top 25 banks in the nation and offers its customers a large range of deposit, insurance, investment and credit services. Boasting more than 700 commercial and retail locations in 19 states, the organization has created a reputation of sound banking practices and superior customer service.

As Vice President of Customer Experience, Dann Allen owns the customer strategy for the Retail Banking Group, advising his peers that customer experience is not only about great service, but it’s also about delivering a positive sales experience, proactive problem resolution and the inviting appearance of branch locations.

Soon after joining the company in late 2013, Allen created a holistic customer experience roadmap. Executing on the roadmap has helped to increase the bank’s customer advocacy levels by 7 percent in just seven months’ time.

I wanted to start improving our voice of the customer program in terms of training front-line staff on how to use customer survey portal, helping them to better understand customers and helping them take action on what are customers are telling us,” Allen says.

Surveys, focus groups and online panels are just a few of the ways that the company gets customers’ opinions on what’s missing, what’s working and what’s not working.

From this feedback, we’re doing some deep analytics to gain more and better insights about our customers’ needs and preferences,” he says. “Our analytics focus on how different customer segments use our branches vs. other channels and how we need to reshape the products and services we offer to deliver the best customer experience possible.

Allen and his team also analyze the customer data they gather and distribute findings into centralized head office support areas. This enables employees in these areas to see the impact they’re having on the customer and work to make positive changes.

To ensure that these changes are orchestrated properly, Allen regularly works with different divisional executives and cross-functional groups within the organization.

We have sales development managers and customer service managers who work to ensure consistency across our different customer experience initiatives,” he says. “We then work through that network and with divisional and regional management teams to implement any changes in customer service behaviors and techniques.

Bank of the West’s customer success is largely due to the bank’s efforts to increase customers’ likeliness to buy additional products and services and ensuring a positive customer experience so that customers recommend the bank to family and friends. Moving forward, Allen feels that the company’s customer engagement efforts will primarily be challenged by budget limitations.

The challenge will come when working with survey vendors to do more with less,” he says. “But once we’ve identified certain issues, we can secure the funding for what we need based upon ROI and improvements in net advocacy.

During the next six to 12 months, Allen’s goal is to retrieve more data from customers about how they feel about their experiences across the bank’s different channels. As the bank draws more sophisticated customers who are much more knowledgeable about their finances, Allen knows they will be faced with heightened customer expectations.

Customers want to experience and access the same information in a variety of channels,” he says. “It’s hard for a lot of banks to achieve this because of all the legacy systems involved. It takes a great deal of time, talent and resources to change those things.

As Bank of the West has become more agile in adapting to market shifts and changing regulations, its IT infrastructure has been changing as well.

We have already done a lot of work in this area and continue to do so,” he says. “We are beginning to store data centrally so our various teams can access a broad range of data and apply various analytics to it. The goal is to be able to gather as much customer information as possible while being able to glean insights across the organization that will help us provide the best omni-channel experience.