BMO Harris Bank meets customers in the moment with Yext.
Part of BMO Financial Group, BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. In today’s world where consumers increasingly view their bank relationships as transactional, BMO Harris has a vision to be the bank that defines great customer service by focusing on building strong relationships with its customers.
"Obviously we are in the business of banking, but we really consider ourselves to be in the business of helping people feel confident about their finances and future by bringing a human touch to all our customer interactions," explains Mike Sanders, BMO’s Director of North American Brand Advertising. "And I’m not just talking about face-to-face interactions in branches, though those are of course important, but also the interactions people have with us over the phone or online. Those experiences need to be intuitive and human."
The decision to use Yext was initially rooted in helping to solve a business challenge. In 2011 when BMO Financial Group acquired M&I Bank and merged it with Harris Bank to create the BMO Harris Bank organisation that exists today, the reality of a seamless and intuitive online customer experience was threatened. "Our company went through a tonne of changes and we were struggling to meaningfully manage all of the information about our locations online. It was messy," recalls Sanders.
BMO attempted to fix the inconsistencies and missing information by signing up with a data aggregator but soon recognised that it could not give BMO the control it needed over its listings. "We thought a data aggregator would help to solve the problem, but it didn’t. We also realised that even if we managed our listings manually on Bing and Google Places, there were so many more sites we couldn’t manage because we simply didn’t have the capacity – it would have required full time people to deal with it," notes Sanders. "That’s when our agency, Resolution Media, suggested Yext as a solution to help us manage and control our listings."
BMO Harris Bank launched with Yext Listings in December 2013 and immediately gained control of its listing information for hundreds of branch locations through Yext’s network of 100+ app, map, search engine, directory and social media partners including Apple, Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, Yahoo and Yelp. Yext’s proprietary integrations with these publisher sites means BMO Harris Bank can update listing information in real-time for one location, or all of its locations, at just the click of a button via the Yext platform, ensuring an accurate and consistent brand message across the various digital touch-points where consumers are searching. "When we initiated the relationship with Yext, the big win was making sure our listings were correct, up to date and complete wherever people found them on the internet," says Sanders. "Yext made it effortless."
Once Sanders’ team was confident and satisfied that they had cleaned up all of BMO’s digital knowledge successfully, they began to explore other ways they could use Yext to build brand recognition and enhance relationships with BMO Harris Bank customers. They leveraged the Yext Knowledge Engine to optimise BMO listings with rich content, including photos, videos and detailed descriptions, helping to improve SEO and boost customer engagement. "Maintaining correct listings was the problem that we set out to solve initially," says Sanders. "We can now look at Yext the same way we look at our other digital investments," he continues. "As a business we try to steer clear of cost per click and instead look at cost per desired customer action, whether that’s opening an account, starting an application, getting prequalified for a mortgage or finding a mortgage banker. That’s the value we look for in Yext – helping to drive more meaningful online interactions that actually have an impact on the bottom line."
In an industry that is looking at a decade ahead of intense change and competition, impacting the bottom line and staying ahead of the game is paramount. Millennials want it all and BMO Harris Bank is up for the challenge. "In attitude and in behaviour, millennials look for more than just the convenience of a bank. This audience wants it all— convenient locations, easy to use mobile apps, great online banking and the option to talk to a person whenever they want to pick up the phone even if they rarely or never exercise that option," says Sanders. He adds, "Anyone who tells you millennials only want mobile is wrong. They do want mobile and they also very much want the ability to talk to a person. That is the challenge we face."
In this vein, BMO Harris Bank values Yext’s quality customer service and the useful insight its dedicated Yext team provides regarding additional ways BMO could be leveraging the Yext Knowledge Engine for additional value. "Our Yext team does a great job keeping in touch with us and is very engaged, thoughtful and responsive when answering our questions," praises Sanders. "From a management and team perspective, that makes us feel like we’re being taken care of. They’re also very accepting when we challenge them, and they always come back with good, thoughtful responses." This partnership and focus on delivering continued value is a big reason why BMO Harris Bank has remained a loyal customer since 2013.
"Yext Analytics provides us with a comprehensive view of our profile views and clicks, so we can get a much better sense of customers who search for us and actually intend to visit a branch, beyond just showing up in listings and improving our ranking order," adds Sanders. "The results clearly show that since launching with Yext, we’ve seen significant improvement in our digital engagement of high-intent customers." Yext powers the listings and social media presence for approximately 600 BMO Harris Bank locations nationwide, including branch and drive-thru locations. Since launch, Yext has added 43% net new BMO Harris Bank listings, corrected 40,000 names and addresses, added 92,000 logos and videos and driven 235,000 clicks.
Looking ahead, BMO Harris Bank is planning to do more in the realm of personalisation. "In 2016 we will incorporate the Featured Message into our digital marketing strategy so that we can mass promote offers through our listings across the entire Yext portfolio, not just on our website," says Matt Case, US Advertising Manager. "Obviously, without Yext that would take us a huge amount of time to implement and manage on an engine by engine basis. Yext makes it simple."