General Card Services (GCS) is a separate standalone subsidiary of the Bank of Ayudhya Plc, commonly known as Krungsri, and is a member of the over-arching MUFG global financial group. It won Highly Commended status in the Best Credit Card Initiative category at the Retail Banker International (RBI): Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020 for its work with Central Group, Thailand’s largest retail conglomerate. The category winner was RCBC Bankard: see separate write-up.
GCS and Central Group began co-operating in 1998 for the purpose of managing unsecured lending against their co-branded credit card and deepened the relationship in March 2017 when they unveiled a new product entitled ‘Central The1 Credit Card’. This new card won the commendation and is now in its third year of operation.
Its achieved 900,000 cardholders since March of last year, the latest for which figures are available, and an asset size of THB20 billion Thai Baht (USD$625m).
The different segmented card offerings targeting various affluences have each experienced usage volume spikes since the 2017 unveiling, with the latest figures as follows:
- Central The1 Redz +20% year-on-year (YOY).
- Central The1 Luxe +24% YOY.
- Central The1 Black +30% YOY.
- Central The1 The Black +28% YOY.
Total usage figures have risen 23% YOY to THB63.28 billion Thai Baht (USD$1.99bn). Measured against the industry average for 2019 usage was up 23% for the entire product range v 9% for the sector overall.
These figures resulted from the following programme. During 2018-2019, GCS implemented several high-impact initiatives to:
- Drive acquisition and grow quality base
- Ensure continuous card usage through data-driven marketing & portfolio campaigns
- Improve customer experience (CX) across all touch-points.
The most notable initiative is the ‘Acquisition Makeover’ project, whereby the existing face-to-face acquisition channel was almost torn down and rebuilt from scratch.
The first phase of this makeover focused on sales transformation which aimed to drive the productivity of each PC service agent (at our physical outlets), while ensuring improved quality for each type of application (both submitted and those approved). This sub-project concentrated on 4 main pillars:
- Sales Force Restructuring: The existing acquisition & sales team structures were redesigned so that a dedicated marketing unit was now part of the team to maximise the speed of acquisition promotions. The sales operations team (for document follow-ups and working procedures with the credit analyst team) was moved out to be under an MIS & Analytics Team for improved control and governance.
- Branch Rezoning: All Central and associated Robinson Department Store locations in Thailand were grouped together under respective ‘zones’ based on their physical and geographic locations. These zones were under the direct responsibilities of Area/Regional Managers (AM/RM). Grouping by geographic locations allowed better monitoring and control of PC service agents. AM/RMs may also perform frequent store visits to tackle problems encountered by individual PC service agents.
- Sales Competencies: To up productivity and cut staff attrition, special emphasis was put on ensuring product knowledge and selling skills amongst all PC Service agents. The entire sales on-boarding and training programmes have been revisited and improved. All new agents must undergo extensive five-day mandatory product & sales training courses. In addition, a dedicated ‘mobile trainer’ team has been set up. These provide on-site and on-the-job assistance for low performance Central & Robinson store locations on a rotating basis.
- Sales Monitoring Dashboard: Improving the performance monitoring dashboard was a key aim. It was split in two phases, as detailed below. Primarily, the desire was to monitor and drive productivity down to individual agent and branch level, with comprehensive sales dashboards and performance reports being formulated by the MIS team. The dashboard allows performance measurements on a daily basis and tracks the quality of approved cards (for example, % activation and activity rates on a month-on-month book) under specific branch and AM/RM performances.
- The first phase: of the dashboard drive was so successful it resulted in an immediate uplift in new card acquisitions from the first month of implementation (June 2018), hitting a new milestone of >10,000 new cards (January 2019) and then a new highest yet card acquisition record of >12,500 cards for July 2019.
- The second phase: introduced several digitisation initiatives to drive acquisitions via face-to-face (traditional) as well as online channels. GCS implemented a simplified application, which improved CX and speed. Its installed on Point-of-Sale (EDC) terminals, as well as tablets at selected Central Group Businesses. The applicant can ‘dip’ his/her national ID Card into the EDC and the basic information will be populated into the digital application form and sent directly to the Credit Approval team. Any supporting document(s) can be scanned and directly sent to the same team. Card approvals and issuance can be reduced from up to 10 days to within 30 minutes.
In 2020, at the time of submission to the RBI: Asia Trailblazer Awards 2020, further planned enhancements inlcude fully digitalised applications via the Bank's KMA: Krungsri Mobile Application and then rollout of this functionality on partner platforms. Facial recognition for speedy electronic e-KYC (Know Your Customer) regulatory approval is also planned.
The Central The1 Credit Card has achieved tremendous and consistent improvements in all key performance indicators compared to its predecessor products and indeed versus the general marketplace.