A look in the rear view mirror

I’ve been looking back at three articles I wrote in the spring of 2017 on the significant challenge financial services businesses were facing with ‘CX’ – a topic which completely dominated the conversation at the time.

The intention was to provide some thoughts and practical advice on specific issues, including multi-channel marketing, the use of Net Promoter Score (NPS) and embracing client behaviour change.

More channels + lower budgets: why customer journeys really matter made the case for ‘Always On’ marketing, setting out McKinsey’s list of six critical actions to migrate your customer understanding from ‘touch-points’ to journeys. On reflection, while ‘Always On’ still has a significant role to play, perhaps its four influencing principles – timeplacelocation and emotion – was the real insight that needed to be expanded upon? As the article concludes:

“This allows you to meet the real needs of real people throughout their end-to-end experience, not just direct interaction with your business.”

Two years down the line, experience has shown me that making assumptions leads to messages that don’t land. To ensure you’re being relevant, you must begin by understanding the genuine needs and motivations and of your customers. And, if that means smaller – even niche – audience groups, with targeted messages that reflect their needs, then so be it.

Meanwhile, Net Promoter Score is a blunt instrument: how you can sharpen your actlooked at the growing use of NPS. I wanted to offer some insight based on experience as, all too often, NPS was being used in isolation – particularly when it came to internal comms. Companies were failing to turn any learnings into tangible change – change that internal audiences would genuinely believe in and get behind.

Looking back, the principles hold true, but I completely underestimated how tough it would be for this type of systematic change to be implemented.

Naively, I had no appreciation of how difficult it is for the management in larger businesses to demonstrate they’re spearheading the behaviour change required – it’s not just down to the internal audience at the coal-face. This isn’t about management arrogance, but rather a flaw in internal processes built on broadcasting or cascading information.

For internal advocacy to work in practice, ‘proof’ is essential – giving evidence of real change, top-down – not creating endless internal ‘campaigns’ and throwaway messages that do more harm than good.

Finally, FS providers need to embrace client behaviour change: not run away from itargued we need to see customers as ever-evolving, diverse groups of diverse people. The article came about having seen the challenges financial services businesses faced in letting their relationship teams ‘off-the-leash’ – particularly on social media. This remains difficult in the regulatory framework, although it looks like businesses are now starting to adapt.

Research then (and now) suggests a growing gap between what customers want from a relationship manager and what financial services providers believe customers need (or, more pertinently, what the banks are geared-up to provide…).

All in all, I still believe the articles are relevant but I over-complicated the argument. The common threads are that audiences and ‘journeys’ have fragmented – or, more realistically, we’re able to see them more easily now. Armed with that, we can’t continue pursuing ‘one-size-fits-all’ messages. The systemic change required to enable marketers to engage with niche audiences through targeted, relevant messages remains a challenge – but one I believe we have the means to achieve.


Opinions are my own.