What are your latest apps for small businesses?
We've come up with Get Paid and Get Feedback after talking to SMEs, and researching two key areas that are critical to their business success - cashflow management and customer experience.
Get Paid is an app that lets SMEs take payments via a smart phone (Android and Apple) or via an email link that takes the customer directly to a secure payments webpage. The app requires no extra hardware or plug-in device and is free to download and pay as you go.
Most SMEs are mobile, like tradespeople, and rely heavily on cashflow and this turns their mobile device into a payment mechanism which they use in real-time without the customer needing to be in-front of them.
It gives SMEs more flexibility in terms of payment options, and they can get paid faster.
We've had more than 500 SMEs sign up for the app which is now live and will be integrated into Westpac's new online platform early next year.
Get Feedback is a website at this point but we are building a mobile app which will be available in the New Year on our new online banking platform. It is all about customer experience and retention. SMEs can be experts within their field, but they're not necessarily experts at retaining customers, growing their customer base and ensuring a great customer experience. Don't forget it costs half as much to retain a customer as it does to acquire a new one so filtering and using feedback smartly is highly valuable. This type of tool has previously only been available to big businesses.
For example, a restaurant might have a Facebook page, and have a good website, but that's it. Get Feedback enables a SME to survey their customers post-purchase, analyse it and turn it back into social media channels to drive better engagement. For example, if a restaurant in Auckland receives some great feedback the owner can share that through different social channels including somewhere like Trip Advisor which hits a global audience. They can also celebrate via their own social media channels and website.
Who helps you create and design your business apps?
We have a great in-house team that does the majority of our app design work and rollout and we bring in partners when we need to or there is expertise we need.
You crowdsource your apps at times. How does this work?
Crowdsourcing is truly putting the customer first. We ask developers and designers to think about what frustrates them in dealing with their bank and how they would fix that using an app. Talking to customers and talented groups like app designers and developers, is about taking the blinkers off, listening and then doing something about it to make the customer's experience with you as easy, simple and safe as possible.
The Westpac App Challenge NZ which ended in October had more than 120 entries from which we selected seven to present to a panel of judges, including independent non Westpac-ers. We ended up picking three of them to bring to market, the first two in early 2014. There are some clever people out there, and we want to tap into their ideas, and celebrate with them. We believe in a true win-win situation and the winners retain all IP rights, grant us a licence us a royalty free licence in NZ and Australia, and are free to leverage the completed app internationally.
What other plans do you have for helping small businesses through apps?
We're continually developing new apps for SMEs and consumers. Another app we'll roll out soon will allow SMEs to take a photo of a cheque via laptop or smartphone and send to us, instead of visiting a branch. We've got more smart ATMs in NZ than any other bank, available 24/7 and are working on some innovative ways business customers can use those. Our website will become a complete resource channel for SMEs, which will be backed up by full training for businesses by Westpac staff.
Next week: New Zealand has a vast number of one man/woman bands - people happiest working on their own, doing what they do best - piano tuners, software developers, electricians, plumbers, artists. They don't have staff to hand over to during the year so they tend to soldier on for the greater part of it without a break. Most of them at this time are counting down the days to the summer holiday when they get to relax for a change. Tell me your stories, how do you cope with up to a month of no invoices coming in?