Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Organisational culture is your single biggest customer experience asset

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Organisational culture is the key aspect of ensuring your customers have an experience that keeps them as customers while making them brand work

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best systems or the best head of customer experience. First and foremost, you need the correct cultural orientation toward customer service. That, of course, stems from the top.

The CEO has to talk customer. He or she has to be accountable for customer experience in some respects. I understand they have other responsibilities but the customer has to be on their agenda and that has to cascade right down into the bowels of the organisation. The customer has to be front and centre so that everyone is thinking customer, whether they have a direct or indirect interface with them.

One of the best ways to shift culture is by ensuring your key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance management system support this goal. Then it’s about having the right processes and tools to access feedback from customers, harness the feedback, commercialise it, and build it into systems, processes and products in a timely and meaningful way that meets the customer needs.

We also need to have one eye trained firmly on what’s happening externally in terms of customer experience. We know that when customers come to a bank, they don’t do it with a bank lens on. They come to us recalling the experience of how Apple or Google has treated them. In that sense, our competitors span well beyond financial services. Whichever brands are delivering best practice, that’s the benchmark.

If other brands are offering real-time access, anywhere, anytime with a high ability to deliver digitally, you too need to be able to execute on those principles. Your systems need to be setup in a way that enables the organisation to service that expectation.

Setting up the systems to support CX

In the past few years at ING Direct, we have done much of the heavy lifting in creating an integrated view of the customer. Today, when customers interact with us digitally, they can see every holding they have on a real-time basis. However, it wasn’t always like this. A few years ago ING underwent a challenging system migration and at the same time brought everything under one customer view.

We’ve also built the foundations to set the bank up for the future as part of our Bank in a Box and Zero Touch projects. Essentially, we re-platformed our foundation to make it more scalable and responsive. For example, in the past, if I wanted to change a customer application system the technicians would have to change every one of those underpinning core systems to support the customer interface layer. Today these systems are streamlined so we can build on them more efficiently. We spent three to four years doing this housekeeping from which the customer couldn’t derive any immediate benefits. But now it’s done, we can innovate quickly and cost effectively in ways that impact them directly.

In recent months, we’ve been building on these stronger foundations as we upgrade all of our digital assets as part of a project we call DNA. The web, mobile and tablet are being designed responsively so whatever device the customer chooses, they’ll get exactly the same look and feel, access, functionality and information.

However, this “renovation” goes significantly beyond changing the window dressing, it embeds sophisticated engines of content, campaign and personal financial management that provide customers what they may need in a more relevant way. We’re also linking these engines to more meaningful customer data and in doing so, gaining the ability to present the customer with the right offer at the right time. This augurs well for ING in terms of cross-buy but more importantly, it’s giving the customer a more seamless experience.

Due to the housekeeping we’ve undertaken with the infrastructure, this program relatively efficient. If we had to do DNA with legacy infrastructure the program would have taken much longer and have been more expensive.

Customer versus profit

Our purpose and strategy are deeply integrated with the customer. Yes, we are an enterprise of profit and are accountable to our shareholders but given our purpose is helping customers to get ahead, every person within the organisation is charged with that mantle. They understand there are going to be trade-offs. We probably could provide our shareholders with greater returns but it would be at the cost of the customer and so we try to execute that fine balance between keeping our customers satisfied with a great experience and fair value while providing a reasonable return to our shareholders.

You can strike a balance. ING proves it is possible to have a profitable organisation and a great customer experience at the same time. It’s not either or. We are a profitable bank, and we’ve got the most satisfied customers.

One of our advantages is that across the board – irrespective of whether you work in sales, risk operations, or finance – customer is in everyone’s KPIs. If it’s in everyone’s KPI’s and they’re getting measured and remunerated on that, they will make intelligent trade-offs to meet that objective.

It’s an exquisite balancing act that you need to get really good at. We work in a dynamic environment, competitively, macro-economically, and in terms of a shifting and demanding customer appetite, so we are constantly enhancing the proposition to meet all stakeholder’s needs. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Clearly investments such as re-platforming an organisation’s infrastructure and digital assets are time consuming and expensive however if I could do one thing to improve customer experience it would be nurturing the right cultural orientation. Having people wanting to serve and understand customer needs is a huge step in the right direction.

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About Lisa Claes – Executive Director of Customer Delivery, ING Direct
Lisa has more than 20 years experience at an executive level in the banking, wealth management and insurance industries following an earlier career as a barrister, and Group General Counsel. Lisa is currently Executive Director, Customer Delivery responsible for the acquisition, servicing and experience of ING Direct's 1.5 million customers in Australia, through its diverse distribution channels (digital, direct and third party). In addition to her local executive responsibilities, Lisa holds non-executive positions in industry and education, represents Australia on ING Group’s Global Retail Council, and chairs the Groups’ Global Mortgages forum.