With customer expectations increasing, keeping up isn't getting easier. But some companies are exceeding customer expectations.
So from, why some CX strategies fail... to data overload... to the CX trends of the future. Dave Peters, from thefreegiftcompany.com, asks the experts what they think. And hopefully you'll pick up a tip or two.
Today he puts the questions to Simon Cavell, Senior Manager - Customer Journey Management & Business Change at Yorkshire Building Society
But before the Q&A here’s a bit about YBS.
As a mutual, Yorkshire Building Society is owned by its members, who are customers of the Society.
Founded 154 years ago for the benefit of its members, to provide real help with their real lives, enabling more people to buy their own home and save for what’s important to them.
Its ambition is to be market-leading for financial inclusion and deliver tailored outcomes for all customers.
Yorkshire Building Society has assets of £43.1 billion and has more than 3 million customers.
The YBS Group includes Yorkshire Building Society and its brands Chelsea Building Society and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society, and its subsidiary companies including Accord Mortgages Limited.
Hi Simon thanks for taking time out to answer our questions.
So let me ask you…
How has Yorkshire Building Society improved the customer experience of its members?
At Yorkshire Building Society, we’ve a clear purpose to provide Real Help with Real Lives – a desire that hasn’t changed since we started helping customers more than 150 years ago, and continues to drive all of the decisions we make.
That purpose led us to transform our savings journey in 2018, enabling more customers to begin a savings habit, and we’re currently improving how we communicate when a fixed term product matures.
For example, for borrowers, we’ve improved the speed of producing a mortgage offer, and delivered an underwriting approach that’s more reflective of common sense than slavish adherence to policy.
By enabling more people to save or to own their own home, we can make a real difference to their lives.
What do you wish you knew when you started your CX strategy that you know now?
CX isn’t a ‘thing’ – it’s a way of life!
Like many organisations, we’ve run high-profile CX programmes for our colleagues. Snappy campaigns and slogans do have a short-term impact, and allow you to generate a conversation about good CX.
But you have to move beyond the models and acronyms.
To truly embed a customer-centric culture it needs a shift in mindset (to be empathetic and solution-focused), language (generating a positive commitment), and action (following through with clarity and conviction).
Your initial uplift in skills has to take place within an environment where all leaders and colleagues understand and champion the practical differences they’re making to customers.
What do you think has been the greatest CX achievement for Yorkshire Building Society?
For the past three years, we’ve systematically transformed what customers expect from our intermediary lending mortgage business.
Feedback from our customers and broker relationships was loud and clear – we weren’t meeting their expectations during one of the most important moments of their life.
Our success in relaunching this area of the business was based upon getting the basics right (improving turnaround times), making better decisions quicker (direct access to a more empathetic underwriting team), and creating moments of delight (over 30,000 welcome boxes delivered to homemovers to celebrate their house purchase).
Despite record Net Promoter Scores and countless awards, we’re not resting on our success. With our investment in technology during 2019, there’s much more to come!
Why do you think some CX strategies fail/succeed?
As odd as it sounds, many firms simply forget about the customer when they’re planning or making decisions.
In a dynamic and competitive market like financial services, it’s not surprising that there’s a clear pressure to deliver income and protect market share. But it’s a flawed approach to launch products or develop services without understanding the customer need you’re satisfying.
At Yorkshire Building Society, we’re able to make decisions for the longer-term benefit of our members, rather than the short-term needs of dividend payments.
So, we’re talking far more about key segments of customers, how we build rounded propositions (a rich mix of products and services) that work for them, and what problems we can solve for our customer base.
By starting from a customer’s perspective, we can create a more tailored set of products and services, avoid the need to compete exclusively on price, and extend the help we offer to groups of customers who’ve been historically underserved.
Is data helping to make the customer journey more delightful for members?
Yes, it certainly can do that.
Used well, the level of personalisation through online shopping (for example) is a great example of how organisations can tailor experiences to individual preferences.
Proactive responses to life events, personal interests, or anticipated needs can only improve the customer journey for our members.
Perhaps the more important question is how you use that data? Whether you’re delivering something face-to-face or via a digital channel, true delight will only come from interactions that are honest, meaningful, and with personality. Data may suggest the opportunities, but it still needs to be executed well.
Do you think we're getting to a stage of data overload?
Actually, I think there’s plenty more we could learn about our customers. Using that rich layer of insight about our customers is vital in helping us position our products and services.
As we roll out digital servicing, we want to reach those customers who’ll benefit the most, and develop the functionality that’ll meet their expectations of us. A ‘one size fits all’ wouldn’t be as effective given the diversity of our customer base.
Similarly, for an organisation that cares passionately about how we support vulnerable customers, and works to provide Real Help with Real Lives, data can help us proactively identify where and when to offer support or a solution.
What CX trends do you see happening in the next few years?
We’re living in a great technology age, empowering customers to take control over their financial services. But that’s not to underestimate the role of colleagues, who remain at the centre of a good CX strategy.
Firstly, problem-solving and ideas:
The most effective organisations already realise that quality insight is readily available from their frontline colleagues – they see the opportunities, problems, and potential solutions on a daily basis.
To maximise that, an organisational focus on problem-solving needs to be accompanied by the pace and agility to fix things fast. It’s the simple things that make the most difference.
As risk aversion and de-layering drives centralisation of decisions, the smarter organisations will work to counter this trend.
For some time, Yorkshire Building Society has been increasing the latitude branch colleagues have, so they can make decisions, exercise discretion and interpret policy to ensure a good customer experience. That ‘Freedom in a Framework’ empowers colleagues to seek first touch resolution, with the full support of the organisation behind them.
How is technology helping your overall customer experience?
The conversation has shifted in the past five years. Previously, digital servicing was something to be ‘sold’, whereas there’s now clear demand for the ease and simplicity offered.
Expectations of financial services firms are no longer set by peers – we’re being compared to a customer’s online shopping app, their social media interaction, or the technology they encounter when they walk through an airport or go to the gym.
We’re meeting that demand by actively supporting customers to adopt digital products and services throughout their relationship with us. So, we’re working to develop 24/7 self-serve functionality, paperless servicing, and also experiences that reinforce the values customers share with our organisation.
It all means more personalisation, improved speed and quality of the customer journey, more first touch resolution, reduced failure demand, and a clear focus on ease of use.
That said, we also see a clear role for our customer-facing colleagues. Whilst the majority of our customers are happy to self-serve their routine needs, they continue to value the human interaction of a skilled colleague who can help with more complex requirements, providing advice or solving a problem.
Is proving the ROI of a good customer experience still a challenge?
It’s a brave leader who builds a business case solely on uplift to Net Promoter Score or C-SAT measures! But the smarter organisations know that customer experience can clearly articulate both the desired and realised outcomes.
ROI is best articulated by being clear upfront about what you’re seeking to achieve. That may be a general increase in engagement, or to generate a moment of delight within a customer journey. It may involve removing detraction from a process, preventing failure demand, or reducing complaints received.
The path to delivering your objective will most likely include changes to products, distribution, processes, services, and even colleagues. So, whilst it’s difficult to directly attribute, the various measures of a good customer experience allow you to clearly articulate what you’ve achieved.
If any readers are looking to start a CX strategy, what advice would you give them to increase their chances of success?
Keep it simple – the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’.
Why? Why is your strategy required to meet the broader purpose of your organisation?
What? What are the outcomes you’re seeking to achieve? It’s got to make a practical difference to your customers and organisation otherwise it’s not worth investing time and effort in.
How? How are you going to ensure the customer is present in all decision making? By articulating the ‘voice of the customer’ as you deliver your products and services, you’re far more able to achieve the broader commercial objectives and purpose of your organisation.
That’s wonderful Simon, thanks again for your time and insight.