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Ten Pieces of Wisdom on Re-engineering FS around the Customer

“I thought it would be very easy but it wasn’t – people were operating in silos.” Simon Carpenter, Zurich Insurance

How do you re-engineer a $70bn insurance company around the customer? How do you build a fully customer-centric bank from the ground up? Rick Keen, who leads our financial services practice in EMEA, brought together two brands to answer those questions.

At a recent panel discussion he hosted during the Market Research Society’s Financial Service Research Conference, Simon Carpenter, from global stalwart Zurich Insurance, and Tom Probert, from challenger bank Tandem, talked from their very different viewpoints about their shared goal – putting customers at the heart of their companies.

The three brought up a host of talking points, thought-provoking arguments, and questions, but if we detailed the lot, we’d be here all day. So, for your easy-digesting pleasure, we’ve distilled their 10 most useful pieces of wisdom.

  1. Customers find it difficult to actively promote their banks and don’t easily become brand ambassadors. On the other side of the table, banks hunger for authentic relationships with their customers. This disconnect can only be addressed if companies put the customer at the heart of their decision making.
  2. Re-engineering big FS organisations around the customer requires managers to change methods, processes and transform culture. This last thing is the most challenging.
  3. Simon, Head of Insight and Customer Experience at Zurich, faced numerous cultural and structural challenges when introducing customer centricity at the heart of the business. He found it hard to:
    • Engage stakeholders; they were operating in silos
    • Connect C suite to the bottom line
    • Prove internally the impact of his work; it was difficult to track value of what the insight team was doing
    • Share best practice across the organisation in different countries because there was no mechanism in place
    • Bring to life products that were truly customer centric. There was a massive disconnect between the marketing-sales side of the business and the product-proposition side
  1. In the past, customer centricity was, for most organisations, more of an investor story than an actual belief.
  2. Today, customers pervade Zurich’s culture. C Space, through numerous projects across different markets, helped the company gain a comprehensive understanding and listen closely to end customers, re-engineer the business with and around them, develop new products, engage new audiences and drive innovation.
  3. Becoming truly customer centric at an early stage, as Tandem Bank did from day one, enables managers to design a truly collaborative structure from the bottom up and establishes flat internal processes that are actually focused on customers.
  4. At Tandem, people from insight work alongside those from commercial and strategy in one team, turning insight into strategy, decision making and finally product development.
  5. Tandem raised £1 million in 15 minutes from the very people it will serve. Why? The founders spent time uncovering specific needs and then addressing those via their business. The business model is customer centric.
  6. No matter whether you are one of the world’s largest publicly listed companies (Zurich) or a start-up with more employees than customers (Tandem), having a strategic partner (C Space) that will help you understand customers and truly get them helps you develop a workable roadmap to growth and deliver value.
  7. The only way forward to customer centricity is to look outside. As CQ clearly demonstrates, incessant requests for feedback are not working – but genuine and open dialogue does. Jargon and use of fancy terms is not working either. Banks need customers, they know that. They just need to learn how to listen to them. It sounds easy but apparently it is not. This is why CQ is so powerful.

To change the organisation you need to change the heart of it. We are not focusing on products we are focusing on problems this way you can start disrupting the market and change how people think.”
-Tom Probert, Tandem

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