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How Technology is Changing Customer Experience

Contributor: Zarina de Ruiter
Posted: 11/20/2014
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Hear from Mark Evans, Chief Marketing Officer Direct Line Group, as he speaks at the Customer Experience Exchange for Financial Services about customer experience, cultural change, how technology is changing customer experience and how it affects consumers and employees, customer loyalty marketing and much more!

What part does employee engagement play in being customer-centric? Is it possible to be customer-centric without employee engagement?

I donã??t think itã??s realistic and sustainable to aim to be customer-centric without really having a congruence of what youã??re trying to be to customers with what youã??re trying to be to your staff. It just doesnã??t ring true, particularly when itã??s the staff who have to bring to life that desired customer experience thousands and thousands of times every day. So I think you have to start from within and then it will exude outside.

How do you inspire cultural change at Direct Line Group? What has to happen for that cultural change to take hold?

I think itã??s got to be a combination of a top-down leadership message saying that we value the customer. And for us in 2013 we want it to be the year of being best for customer. But it also needs to flow from the explicit values of the company. And for Direct Line, because weã??ve just floated, weã??ve had the opportunity to reboot the company and reset the values that we want to have in our DNA, really. And so that is the driving momentum towards our customer-centricity.

How is technology changing the way that you engage with your employees, and what effect does that have on your customers?

Weã??re quite fortunate that weã??ve managed to establish what we call the Best Quest, which is a company-wide jam platform whereby we can have an open conversation with our colleagues, and any ideas are welcome and picked up. And it has quite a high share of voice, so itã??s a very good platform to share ideas, nourish those ideas, and make sure everyoneã??s got a chance to have a say.

What is it about Direct Line Groupã??s culture that makes it so unique, and how does that affect your overall business objectives?

I think what makes it unique is that itã??s nearly a FTSE 100 company, but itã??s brand new, so itã??s quite odd youã??d have such a big company which is, effectively, rising like a Phoenix or coming out of the shadow of RBS. And so the fact that itã??s got that scale, but that freshness, is probably its uniqueness. And what that means is that weã??ve got a lot of energy to really get the basics right, fix some of the things that havenã??t been looked at for a long period of time, and so a reboot moment makes it quite a special environment.

Customer loyalty marketing is an important part of the customer journey. How do you turn data into actionable intelligence?

Weã??ve invested quite heavily in a proprietary segmentation model which combines external attitudinal behavioural data with internal, if you like, transactional data. So a full 360 degree segmentation model that maps to our database, and so that, really, is the engine for all our decisioning, so thatã??s, if you like, our lifeblood for CRM.

What is your primary focus ã?? customer acquisition or customer loyalty?

Thatã??s the magic question, really. I think itã??s got to be a balance of the two. The insurance sector and, indeed, financial services is very acquisition-focused, and I think weã??re coming round, as a sector, and for Direct Life Group, to the fact that looking after the customers that we have already is as important, if not more important. I think that pendulumã??s swinging. So we probably still spend the majority of our marketing spend on acquisition, but that pendulum is shifting and weã??re putting more and more effort into retention, persistency, cross-sell, and up-sell, and itã??s obvious, but weã??re just getting down that road.

What advice do you have for CMOs and Chief Customer Officers who are shaping their organisationsã?? multi-channel strategy?

I think multi-channel strategy is obviously a vogue topic. I think thereã??s a big risk to over-complicate the whole discussion. And, basically, from working at HSBC and now at Direct Line in retail banking and insurance, broadly-speaking, customers know what they want to do. And, more often than not, the organisation gets in the way and makes it harder, so I think itã??s stating the obvious, but making things simple and easy, and knowing when to get out of the way, is as important as knowing when you really want to intervene to get in the way for an up-sell or a cross-sell. So I think itã??s being really clear on when you just need to come and clear the decks, make it simple, make it quick, get out of the way, versus the desire to persuade and influence and, therefore, put more complexity in.

If you were going to give one piece of advice to a financial service in 2013, what would it be?

I think, for a couple of reasons, itã??s to fundamentally embrace being customer-centric, which is so easy to say, but, actually, not that easy to do with thousands and thousands of employee. Two very clear reasons, really. I think, one, is the regulator is going to keep pushing everyone down that road, and with the FCA being, probably, more intrusive, thereã??s no escape from being more customer-centric.

But, secondly, itã??s a more self-empowered, speedy, technological world, and I think non-customer-centric companies are just going to die slowly. So the challenge is to fundamentally be more customer-centric, which is a change in behaviour, a change in policy, a change in processes, that many organisations assume is going to be much easier than it actually is.

Who is your all-time hero and why?

He has nothing to do with work, my all-time hero. Itã??ll be a guy called Brian Moore who was an England rugby player who was probably a bit shorter and smaller than the average of his time, but he was fierce and competitive and that tigerish spirit. And I played the same position at rugby as him, went to the same university, I know him, in a manner of speaking, and he was just a warrior. And a warrior spirit is what I try and bring into some of the things I do.

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Contributor: Zarina de Ruiter