Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Organisations and marketers will struggle if they don’t find a way to make digital a relevant part of every piece of customer experience.
So says Michael Weeding, AMP’s director of digital business customer solutions, who caught up with CMO at the recent ADMA Global Forum conference to detail the group’s transformation journey, and discuss the role digital disruption and technology are playing in its quest to become customer-centric.
According to Weeding, the entire financial services industry is standing at the forefront of large-scale digital disruption.
“Everyone accepts they need to question how they’re operating and challenge the models to look to the future,” he claimed. “We are not walking away from the traditional AMP model that’s been built up over 165 years, but we know the world around us is changing and digital is a very big piece of that.
“It’s obvious you’ll struggle as an organisation if you don’t find a way to make digital a relevant part of every piece of the customer experience. But then again, it’s not always understood exactly what you need to do.”
AMP’s transformation agenda kicked into gear over a year ago with the appointment of chief customer officer, Paul Sainsbury, and a dedicated customer relations team. Weeding’s role was created as part of the new group and reports directly into the CCO.
Weeding claimed organisations need to have a dedicated customer team to make such a substantial change a reality.
“AMP, and in particular Paul and our CEO, Craig Meller, spent a lot of time analysing what makes up a customer-centric organisation,” he said. “The changes haven’t come with a marketing-led approach; to become truly customer centric, we have to reorganise the business with the customer at the centre of that. Marketing and digital are components of that overall approach.
“Craig has set a very clear direction and people are very clear on what they have to focus on to get to these higher outcomes. That’s how you start – by being leader-led.”
A core aspect of the reorganisation was ensuring people who lead areas are much more collaborative, Weeding continued.
“But as much as you can say that collaboration is important, the big piece of that is the cultural change,” he said. “Everyone needs to believe in the journey they’re on, and know that their journey and purpose is a noble one. It’s critical to moving forward.”
Within AMP’s customer-centric approach, the digital team’s objective is to think about how consumers will engage in the future, knowing that technology will continually change.
“It’s not about building something, but about understanding what the role of technology is in that customer experience,” Weeding said. “We need to have a good understanding of the people we want to connect with, and the experiences they’re going to have across certain life stages. And at those key points in time, what experiences are going to be relevant to them and in what channels.
“Experiences aren’t linear, and digital is going to play an important role – arguably the majority – in that engagement. People will move into direct channels too and those experiences need to be connected. So you need to start by understanding who is the customer, what are they going to want at certain points in their life, and how would they expect those services to be delivered.
“Then what we need to look at as a digital team is our ability through platforms and technology to take those experiences and mould them as things change. If people all start using smart watches in six months’ time, then what part of that experience do we want to be involved in, and where can we make ourselves relevant?”
Since taking up the post seven months ago, Weeding has helped create a number of digital products, such as mobile apps across Android and iOS devices, as well as a dedicated app for tablet devices.
“One of the things we’re really proud of is around superannuation,” he commented. “In the tablet app, we have made product a simple experience. And as we take other new platforms and technology, we want to create new things where great experience is at the centre, not the functions.”
Weeding’s team is also in the process of redesigning the AMP website, a process that he said requires starting with customer experience, then looking at the technology and platforms to drive that. Data plays a crucial role, and AMP has set-up a data team within the customer solutions unit to help form better assumptions to drive the work being done.
“You need to start somewhere – you need the long-term vision – but as you move forward, you need to mould, modify and let the customer drive your changes. Use the customer as the feedback loop,” he added.
During his ADMA presentation on digital change, Weeding also stressed the need for marketers to better grasp technology if they want to drive the contextual experiences customers now expect from brands.
“Optimising technology is a key skill set that organisations will be looking for,” he claimed. “The more we invest, the more we need people to turn that asset into something valuable for a customer experience.
“The technology in itself is what will drive outcomes and experience. To think you can exist as a marketer without a true connection or understanding of that is going to create further divide. I’m not saying there aren’t roles for those from traditional marketing – you will always need creative for example – but how you turn that creative into something that’s real, relevant, measurable and has an outcome is very different today.
“What role does a marketer want to play? Do they want to just be the one building the assets?”
Weeding pointed to Web pages as an area where technology and creative are colliding.
“A Web page now is a series of content tiles that will be displayed in a particular way that is different for different people, and that will drive an outcome and an experience,” he said. “Technology will form how that experience moulds itself; the asset is just something that’s produced. The real magic is when you can turn an asset into the outcome you want. That requires a skillset that is valuable and one most marketers should be exploring.”
As Weeding noted, engagement will become more complex as technology evolves.
“To say we’re going to follow the formula of ‘found, convert, analyse’ won’t bear well in the years to come,” he warned attendees. “We have to constantly refine, change, and be watching the changing technology and content space, to adjust how we operate regularly.”
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