What I learned Last Week in Breakfast Conversation with Barclays — A story in 3 Acts from Customer Experience to Customer-Adaptive Enterprise

By Guest Author, Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst CRM & Customer-Adaptive Research Lead at Ovum

Jeremy Cox shares his insights from a breakfast briefing hosted last week by goMoxie Software and Barclays Bank looking at creating a superior customer experience. The event was attended by more than 40 senior directors of major organisations in the UK from airlines, banks, charities, electronics, telecom and mobile companies. 

Act 1: The multi-channel customer experience: new challenges

Jeremy presenting at Barclay's breakfast

The third act of this breakfast briefing was a thoroughly stimulating exchange of views and ideas around both the customer experience challenge and the longer term imperative to become customer-adaptive. This lively debate demonstrated clear consensus that effective internal collaboration and continuous innovation are paramount to improving the customer experience. But what are the barriers to this?

Irrespective of industry, we all face the common challenge of trying to deliver a great customer experience. The perfect storm created by technology disruption, growing customer expectations and a shift of power to the customer amplified by social networking has upped the ante significantly. The ability to serve multiple channels and engage with customers through the access point of their choice (36% via smartphone by 2016 according to Ovum research) is increasingly crucial as communications platforms evolve rapidly.

In an environment where products and services are commoditised ever faster, the ultimate goal of remaining persistently relevant to customers is achieved not only through a great experience, but also by continuous innovation leading to the creation and delivery of new value. A business’s ability to adapt at speed to meet changing needs and behaviours requires a new customer-centric, customer-empowered orchestration – the customer-adaptive enterprise. And, as this breakfast briefing has served to demonstrate, we are seeing technology and management thinking evolving to meet this requirement.

Act 2: The practical: Barclays delivering service channel change

Barclay's breakfast presentation

Matt Smallman, Head of Strategy and Change Wealth and Investment Management Client Experience at Barclays Bank, gave us an honest and fascinating insight into the challenges of coordinating successful customer relationship management across six business units and 50 countries.

Matt explained the diversity and complexity within Barclays and the pressing need that arose to increase effectiveness of the bank’s communication with different customers. Matt demonstrated a high degree of customer-centric thinking allied to pragmatism in the steps his team took to improve customer communication via a core channel – email.

Barclays aims to grow its wealth management business significantly, but, like its competitors, faces a real constraint in the bandwidth of relationship managers with the levels of insight and knowledge to deliver the desired service and value. Personal relationships are critical, yet Barclays has to deliver this at huge scale to its 50,000 high net worth clients and 600,000 intermediaries and institutional investors in 177 countries.

Matt talked us through the process of transforming the service centre and leveraging assisted relationship management to increase the effectiveness and productivity of highly skilled wealth management advisors. The journey to a proven methodology began in 2009 against a backdrop of the banking crisis. Today, Barclays sees 70% of all high net worth interactions being done via email and success has been measured in improved client satisfaction and greater productivity, with minimal increase in headcount to handle the growth in email traffic. In 2012, the firm won several awards including best customer experience centre of the year.

Act 3: A lively discussion

A common view expressed was the importance of leadership in creating the conditions for a positive customer experience. Some feared that in companies where management puts shareholders first, the temptation to short termism would derail any efforts to evolve into a more customer-centric organisation. The contentious point that too many UK CEOs come from a finance background was cited as one reason why firms are slow to embrace the necessary evolution demanded today.

The persistence of operational silos was recognised as an enemy of innovation, especially in large firms. Risk aversion also stifles innovation where the brave putting their heads above the parapet risk being shot down.

The ‘art of the possible’ in technology has led us to the point where smart and connected interactions can be enabled across any channel to give the customer an informed and relevant experience. Enterprise social networking can connect the enterprise horizontally and laterally, offering the hope that the collective brainpower of the organisation can be harnessed for the good of the customer and personal growth of the workforce.

Many of the challenges and desires expressed during the discussion also reflect the old battles of the past when CRM first reared its head. The 360 degree view of the customer, personalisation of experience and even the customer experience have all been promised before. Now however, there is a real feeling that management is waking up to its new role of stewardship and creating the right conditions in which the workforce, enabled by connected technology, can create and deliver real value to customers first, securing long term future cash flows and ultimately real shareholder value. This upbeat note captured the spirit of the discussions.

View the presentation slideshow below. Follow Jeremy Cox on Twitter at @JeremyCoxCRM and @OvumICT.

[slideshare id=17010098&doc=multi-channelcustomerexperience-challengespracticesfuture-130307104939-phpapp01]