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The Importance of Leveraging Customer Insights to Deliver the Ultimate WOW Experience

Contributor: Zarina de Ruiter
Posted: 10/18/2015
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The Vice President – Head of Customer Insight at Riyad Bank discusses the importance of leveraging customer insights to create the ultimate WOW experience.

Ahmed El Badawi is a customer insight professional with over 15 years of experience in multiple roles on the agency and client sides, spanning from strategic planning, consumer research and insight, and finally customer experience.

He joined Riyad Bank in May 2014 as the Vice President –Head of Customer Insight to help build the customer insight team within the newly established customer experience (CX) department, and now works on multiple initiatives to enhance how Riyad Bank receives and acts upon customer insights.

Prior to Riyad Bank, he worked for Bupa and The Nielsen Company in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to train and mentor future research executives and customer insight professionals.

In the first part of his interview with CX Network
he spoke about the importance of a customer insight team and optimisation of a Voice of the Customer programme (VOC) as part of a wider customer experience strategy. Today he goes one step further, outlining some of the challenges facing insight professionals and what steps he has taken to overcome this to deliver an outstanding CX at Riyad Bank.

Welcome back, Ahmed. Can you tell me what are some of the biggest challenges you're currently facing in your role as Vice President – Head of Customer Insight? And how are you tackling these challenges?


There are three key challenges I am working on at the moment, specifically "data quality", "automation of CX management" and "converting insights into actions".

Data quality is a very critical aspect of the customer insight function, lack of trust in the data hinders our efforts to deliver actionable insights and convince other departments to take our recommendations seriously. To overcome this challenge, we managed to set up three data quality assurance steps into the process to make sure the results we deliver are at the highest standards.

The first step is at the "data extraction" phase where we make sure the customers’ data extracted is correct, relevant and up to date. The second step is at the fieldwork phase in which we run rigorous checks on interviews conducted and make sure all questionnaires are filled correctly, we randomly listen to calls and make sure interviewers are fully acquainted with the survey questions. Finally, before we start the report preparation, the customer insight team does its own logical checks to make sure the data accurately represent reality from a sampling perspective

Due to the size of the CX management Initiative in Riyad Bank, it was very important to automate as many steps of the process as possible. Trying to execute the CX programme manually takes a lot of my team’s time in doing operational tasks, leaving little time to add their strategic input and insight on the findings. Hence, I embarked on an automation project with the objective of turning as many tasks as possible to be conducted automatically.

We started with tasks like data extraction, reporting and dashboard generation. Now I am in the process of automating the survey distribution (interviews) and the closed-loop feedback process. I plan to finish the project by end of Q1 in 2016, when we will automate approximately 80 per cent of our NPS initiative.

The last challenge is to convert all the insights generated by my team into actions. This requires a lot of effort and coordination with other departments in the bank. It is very important to show to my internal clients how these insights can add value to their day-to-day work and the services/products they plan to launch. Hence, it becomes vital to prove the ROI of insights.

What have you found to be the most effective methodology of measuring and extracting value from customer insight? Can you tell me a little bit about this?

We are working now on a specific initiative to implement a CX management tool to help us measure and extract insights from the different VOC programmes we are running. The current process flow is done manually, we basically generate insights using three different types of deliverables (from our NPS programme):

1) Monthly presentations and interactive dashboards to keep everyone up to date with the state of our NPS.

2) Weekly NPS detractors reports that are sent to all branch managers to close the loop and provide feedback on actions performed to enhance these specific detractor customers’ experience.

3) Quarterly branch-by-branch NPS reports to help each branch manager understand where they fall compared to their peers and what specifically they need to do to enhance their customers’ experience and hence their NPS for the next quarter.

What major trends do you predict will impact customer experience management in 2016? How are you preparing for these?

Although the concepts of "design thinking" and "user-centric designs" are still new in our region, such concepts continue to grow steadily. It is then very important to leverage customer insights to underpin the product and service design process in order to deliver better experiences for our customers.

We constantly have to think of different ways of integrating customer insights into the process, may be through introducing research methodologies like co-creation or extended creative focus groups in which the customer becomes the centre of the process.

Additionally, companies will need to come up with new ways of measuring the strength of emotional attachment customers have with each touch point in their journey. We can no longer assume that it is the same weight along the whole experience. Thus, the importance of introducing new a measurement framework that addresses such differences.

What is your ultimate piece of advice for fellow CX leaders to help them deliver a memorable customer experience?

The most important aspect is to have a deep understanding of your customers’ needs to be able to integrate such findings into the design process. By doing so, you guarantee the delivery of a customer experience that is memorable and that is in line with what customers are expecting from you, maybe you will even exceed their expectations and deliver a WOW experience.

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Contributor: Zarina de Ruiter