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USAA Develops Cross-Channel Capabilities to Improve Customer Experience

USAA's head of member experience, Wayne Peacock, discusses how to keep customers happy, provide a homogenous cross-channel experience and drive technological innovation with BS&T associate editor Bryan Yurcan.

USAA is well-known for its high marks in customer experience. The San Antonio financial services company, which serves military personnel and their families, topped the Forrester Research 2012 Customer Experience Index, an annual survey that this time polled more than 7,500 consumers about 160 brands across 13 industries.

According to Wayne Peacock, executive VP of member experience at USAA, which offers banking, insurance, investment and retirement products, the key is knowing your customers and anticipating their needs. Peacock spoke with Bank Systems & Technology about how USAA uses technology to do that, as well as to get a cross-channel view of the customer and pursue innovation.

What's the primary focus of your role at USAA, and what are the main functions of the member experience team?

Peacock: About two years ago, we brought together all of the services and sales teams for our different lines of business and the digital and mobile commerce teams and the marketing team to become one big integrated unit to deliver a great member experience. We're serving our members from the time they're teenagers and young adults all the way through the adult years and leaving a financial legacy, so we thought it would make a lot of sense to have them talk to us about what's going on in their financial lives. We're bringing product offerings from multiple parts of the company to them, so it was a natural progression for us to bring these teams together to better serve those needs.

The member experience team is setting strategy, monitoring performance and driving innovation. I've really had the opportunity to envision, design and implement what we think is delivering value for USAA members. We start and end with them.

There are some 24,000 employees at USAA, and 10,000 are on the member experience team. About 9,000 directly face members, and the other 1,000 are in supporting roles.

How do you quantify a successful member experience? Are there certain metrics you look at or targets you strive to reach?

Peacock: We measure member satisfaction six ways to Sunday by looking at every kind of transaction and interaction they have with us. We look at loyalty and their duration with us and their advocacy for USAA. How many are joining and staying with us, and how many are broadening their financial relationship with us?

The most important thing is that we measure how we're doing by how our members are doing in their financial lives. How they are improving their financial situation in life -- that's the best possible alignment to measure how successful we are in what we're doing.

What steps does USAA take in getting a cross-channel view of the customer?

Peacock: People don't interact with just one channel anymore; they're moving freely across many of them.

It starts first with member insight, having a deep understanding of who they are and what they're trying to accomplish. We're working on designing an experience tailored for them in their particular situation. We focus on big life events our members go through and make sure we build touch points across channels.

[USAA, ING Direct, PNC Leaders in Customer Retention, Report Says]

For example, for members who are coming out of active duty, we want to provide advice and solutions to meet the important needs that arise as you separate from the military. We use all of the data and analytics we have to not only respond well when our members contact us in any channel, but also to get much more proactive in anticipating their needs and reaching out to them.

What role does technology play in the member experience at USAA?

Peacock: Technology is the great enabler for us. Today, over 90%-plus of interactions our members have with us are through digital means, and all of that is delivered through some kind of technology. Mobile is the channel of choice for our customers, but we also see them going to the online platform and contact centers. Technology enables us to serve them in all these channels.

We use technology to mine data and analytics so that when they call us, we can understand better who they are and what they're calling about, and route them to the best representative to speak with.

We believe we're pretty innovative with technology, with things like mobile check deposit. Those early innovations were born out of a desire to help our members who are out in the field, and we continue to push innovation for our members.

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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