In today’s digital age, every business wants to build the best website possible. They want smooth, friction-free customer journeys no matter what device a customer uses. What you see in a website is the end-state of a complex piece of work, forging the tangibles like the brand, products and services, with the less tangible but equally crucial elements beneath – like customer needs and preferences.
Rory Todd, Head of Web Data and Analytics in Commercial Digital at Lloyds Banking Group spends his days analysing the large amount of MI collected by various payment systems and websites to build a clear picture of different sorts of needs a Lloyds Bank Commercial customers may have. He calls it “building the data business”.
“It’s basically getting information about how our clients are using our existing digital platforms to inform how best we implement the new platform,” he says. The new platform in this case is Commercial Banking Online, the new Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland online banking platform for Commercial clients, launched this year.
“We take information like when they log in and for how long, the type of payments they’re making, and what screens they’re looking at to start to build a profile and give us a better understanding of their preferences and behaviours. As the technology progresses, we can do more and more. For example going forward, we will have a much better idea of where people are dropping out of the payments journey and from that, we can make improvements to process or help material to improve the customer experience.”
Rory qualified as a chemical engineer, but even when working for major water companies at the start of his career, he felt drawn to the ‘data’ side. “In one of my first roles, I was using some pretty complicated systems to decipher where there were water quality failures in London, which involved a lot of data analytics. Not long afterwards, I happened to be chatting to a careers consultant who told me my eyes lit up when I started talking about the application of the data we’d been extracting. I hadn’t realised it, but she was right.”
Not long after that Rory moved roles into financial services. “Moving from one sector to another was easy. The skills are totally transferable because the fundamentals are essentially the same.”
One of the most important fundamentals is of course, the bottom line. How does he measure successful data analytics in monetary terms in his line of work?
“There are a number of measures you could use. For example, if you’re building a new payment system for clients, you could track the monetary value of the payments being made. Or you could monitor the cost saving compared to the previous business processes.” In Rory’s case, the end-users are Commercial clients, rather than personal customers, and that’s also something he’s mindful of.
“Of course, dealing with Commercial clients is a different ball game. In contrast to the Retail space, in Commercial a small number of clients may drive a disproportionate volume of a certain interaction. Therefore before making any changes or improvements you need to have a much greater focus on individual behaviours and often the bespoke needs of particular clients.”
For now, he’s fully focused on the delivery of Lloyds Bank’s new Commercial banking platform and the quality of data that will come with it, but distilling and interpreting this data is the interesting part. “A large part of our work is interpreting the straight-up data, but there’s always the human element that’s a little of the unknown. Seeing how people react to variables and the foibles of human nature is something that will constantly surprise you in this job.”
It’s no surprise then that Rory is a great admirer of Alan Turing, the great WWII code-breaker. “He was one of the first people to properly understand how to combine an understanding of human spontaneity with a highly mechanised process. What are you thinking when you’re doing something and why do you take the decisions you take?”
Maybe the field of data analytics and customer insight could do with a few modern day Turings today? “Definitely.” Rory agrees. “If they could start with the check-in process at Heathrow airport, I would be very happy!”