Absa Bank has launched an internal pilot of its social media and wider unstructured data analytics platform, Barclays Pronto, to select colleagues. Built in-house and entirely on open source technology, Barclays Pronto brings the voice of customers and other users closer to the bank’s staff.
Using the latest in big data and data science around unstructured data mining and natural language processing, Barclays Pronto allows users to view and act on social media insights (including identifying key influencers, mentions and sentiment shifts) across brand, products, and channels. It enables the bank to engage more meaningfully with its customers in real-time and react to triggers and insights.
“Barclays Pronto is another step in our efforts to bolster our ability to serve our customers more authentically with new dynamic, personalised experiences – whether it be the ability to have the right colleague respond directly to a customer at the right time, or to act on consumer sentiment towards a new product in real-time,” says Yasaman Hadjibashi, chief data officer at Barclays Africa.
Research shows that the majority of customers expect their banking problems to be solved within 24 hours, if not in a shorter period of time. In order to capture this attitudinal shift, feedback loops need to happen as close to an event occurrence as possible, via the right set of channels.
Traditionally, bank surveys are conducted to collect feedback on a monthly or quarterly basis. This practice misses out on the opportunity for continuous tracking, and for including insights from channels that the millennial generation predominantly uses.
Craig Bond, chief executive: retail and business banking at Barclays Africa, says: “Barclays Pronto enables us to have more dynamic conversations with our customers and react in moments when they need us the most. Using these scalable open source big data solutions allows our colleagues to create more  meaningful engagements and experiences.”
To illustrate, Bond points to  when he was recently shown the latest version of Barclays Pronto, and was able to assist a user in real-time.
“We responded on the spot to the user’s specific need, which in turn was deeply  appreciated.  This type of relevant, instantaneous engagement at the individual customer level is our goal,” Bond adds.
Barclays Pronto is an important step into incorporating big data into the bank’s customer-centric approach, as customers are increasingly voicing their opinions through social media, and are expecting a prompt, dedicated response.
“In making sure that our data products and platforms are fully user-centric, we will continue with our progressive use of the latest open source data technologies, which will help us grow our data science and analytical abilities at speed and scale,” says Hadjibashi.
“This is core to our efforts to regain the one-to-one connection with our customers. Only then can we be a meaningful part of their daily lives, and, with our new data solutions and platforms, remain competitive in this increasingly digital and mobile era.”