Martin Scovell investigates customer experience from the inside, and identifies three steps that will transform your organization.
With customer experience becoming an ever more important component of business strategy in a competitive climate, many businesses will be making plans for improvement.
But rather than focusing on external communications, the most innovative enterprises are turning their attention inwards to ensure the operational resources are in place to deliver an authentic, consistent and sustainable customer experience.
Building better relationships with customers hinges on far more than just the way an organisation communicates.
The rapid spread of web connectivity, ubiquitous digitisation and social media interaction enables rapid and open conversations that demand more transparency from companies, which is why they are assessing not just what they deliver but how they deliver it – the complicated ecosystem of people, process and technology that makes things happen.
Companies are creating customer-driven operations built upon smart business platforms that bring processes to life, empowering people with the tools and the information they need to make good decisions, whether they are staff or customers.
It was this holistic approach that The Cambridge Building Society adopted to transform its customer experience strategy, resulting in unprecedented levels of positive feedback, industry awards and business growth.
As major banks tightened up their lending criteria and reduced their mortgage product ranges in early 2012, there was a marked shift in the mortgage industry, with more customers becoming aware of the added benefits that smaller lenders like The Cambridge provide. As a result, the Society experienced increased volumes of mortgage business, putting significant pressures on the processing and operations department and hindering the overall customer experience.
At that time, case management procedures and management information were manually logged, while communication was largely limited to reactively responding to incoming enquiries.
This put pressure on staff, inhibited the timely sharing of information and drew some critical feedback from brokers and customers, which together necessitated an urgent review.
The Society questioned whether its promise of customer-centricity was holding up across all touchpoints and analysed the end-to-end customer journey. As a result, a plan was developed to address service delivery in line with a rebrand of the corporate identity and the launch of new products and facilties.
The key components of this success story were smart technology, engagement with people and improved flow of information.
The transformation programme saw the introduction a solution that enabled live monitoring, tracking and analysis of business activity, not just to provide vital management information (MI) to support decision-making, but to empower staff with the tools needed to deliver a first class service across multiple touchpoints and channels.
The management team looked particularly at the various internal processes which influence the customer journey. A configurable web-based platform called MATS® was introduced to meet to improve all-round visibility of business processes.
Acknowledging that staff buy-in would be crucial to successful implementation, managers organised training for team members.
The introduction of MATS® allowed staff to log mortgage application cases on a single and consistent platform, helping guide the approval process, with immediate visibility and actionable alerts to improve decision-making.
MATS® improved the flow of information by allowing managers to generate bespoke, real-time reports on various aspects of the case handling process. Critically it also generated automated key-stage updates to brokers and customers via SMS, email and personalised web pages to keep them instantly and better informed of the progress of the application.
Peter Dockerill, Lending and Savings Manager at The Cambridge Building Society, said: “We have always been proud of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. But with MATS we have been looking at the systems and processes, and improving them, to ensure the experience is consistent. We have taken an outside-in approach, to ensure everything we do is about making the customer experience as good as it can be.”
According to Forrester Research, there is an increasing move towards incorporating the discipline, consistency, tools and measurement techniques of business process management (BPM) into customer experience improvement.
By analysing and modifying business processes as a means of enhancing the customer experience, The Cambridge began reporting beneficial outcomes very quickly.
Feedback from brokers and customers was very positive since they felt better informed. The Cambridge conducted both a broker and a customer survey with some 75% of brokers reporting that they found MATS-driven progress updates useful or very useful, 84% felt that the information provided was relevant or very relevant.
Almost half said they no longer needed to contact The Cambridge to seek updates because they had been provided proactively.
Managers are able to access information about case loads and productivity in real time, while employee morale was improved as they were more engaged with the process and could feel the rewards of an improved service delivery.
There would seem to be an excellent impact of the customer’s surveyed with 87% of customers who had gone through the mortgage application process saying that it was ‘very easy or easy’ to get information about the progress of their application.
In the months since the deployment, The Cambridge Building Society has won major industry accolades, including ‘Best Mortgage Service Provider’ at the Moneyfacts® awards, which cited its relationship with and treatment of its brokers as one important factor.
Jon Foster, Head of Operations at The Cambridge Building Society, said: “We now process a higher volume of mortgage applications and have a much more consistent approach to the way we communicate with brokers and customers. This significantly raises the bar when it comes to the overall customer experience.”
About the Author
Martin Scovell is CEO of MatsSoft.