AMP customer chief takes hold of CapEx budget

During a panel debate at ADMA Engage on being a customer-centric business, AMP's Paul Sainsbury reveals the financial and behavioural changes enacted at the financial services group

AMP has shifted capital expenditure budget under its chief customer officer as it strives to become a more customer-centric business.

Speaking on a panel at the ADMA Engage event in Sydney, AMP CCO, Paul Sainsbury, shared details of how the financial services and insurance group has restructured its organisation and launched a raft of programs to enable staff to better orient employees around customer engagement.

While operational budget responsibility for customer-related programs, including marketing spend, sits under Sainsbury’s area and functional teams, the customer chief revealed AMP’s recent restructure and creation of his role had given him control of CapEX as well.

“This ensures it [investment] is getting positioned against initiatives that create true customer value, rather than things we just traditionally do in our business,” he said. “It’s very helpful when trying to make this [customer] shift culturally to put controls in the organisation that signal to everyone this is different, and we are working as a different business.”

Sainsbury stressed the importance of culture when relaunching the AMP brand and said the organisation had looked to help better connect staff to its core purpose of “helping people own tomorrow”. One early program was a competition for staff, asking them to take photos of their own “tomorrow” in order to better empathise with customer needs and “be best placed to help them”, he said.

In addition, AMP put all 6000 employees through a one-day training program in the last year to connect them to its customer strategy.

“We did this as natural work units, though, where we talk about what it is they can do to bring our customer strategy to life within their own work units, rather than a high-level training program as such,” he said.

Last week, AMP launched a new set of working behaviours to improve the way employees relate to customers.

“We have thrown out traditional behaviours like ‘be real’ or ‘be passionate’, and we researched back to our brand personality and attributes and designed six practices that are a visible demonstration of people’s beliefs and behaviours in action,” Sainsbury explained. “These are observable, measurable and trainable.

“An example is to ‘own it and get it done’. It’s emotional language and it’s about accountability, but it’s much stronger than just ‘be accountable’. That’s working really well for us.”

The other ongoing aspect of AMP’s agenda is telling customer stories constantly across the business. To do this, Sainsbury said he blogs regularly to staff.

“This is a very large program we have running on many levels, and it’s partly putting systems and process, in place,” he continued. “It requires top leadership to stand up and do something different but it also requires enablement of organisations where people move away from getting stuck in the rut of using process as an excuse, and start using judgement around doing what’s right for customers. It’s liberating when you have the ability to make the best decisions for customers.

“People used to go ‘I’m just being real’ but the reality was they were being arseholes. You can’t have that.”

Related: 4 chief customer officers reveal their corporate allies

Skill set needed

Another key discussion topic for the panel was the skill set needed to be a modern customer-led marketing organisation. Responses reflected the need for a broad array of skills including data intelligence and analytics, specialist digital skills, communication, technology expertise, service and a willingness to learn.

“Data is key: but it’s not just about data, it’s about what you do with data. It’s how you marry the events you can identify that underpin customer needs, and the insight on what’s important to them,” Sainsbury told attendees. “If you can marry those two up, that’s the recipe for success.”

DT managing director, Brian Vella, highlighted the need to be a good collaborator.

“Breaking down silos, working with other departments, and having a positive influence on your peers, takes real skill,” he commented.

HCF chief customer officer, Stephen Nugent, saw customer engagement as about delivering personalised service to each customer, and put the emphasis on frontline staff leading the way.

“How do you gear up your organisation and your peers to deliver that? It has to be sustainable,” he said. “Everyone in the organisation has a part to play in that service delivery. And that’s what makes each organisation different – it comes to that service differential. It’s got to be believed through the whole organisation and that’s a challenge.”

Read more: 5 Australian CEOs reveal what they want from CMOs

Outgoing Tourism Australia CMO, Nick Baker, said that as marketers, everyone should spend an hour each day in learning and developing new skills, finding out what’s going on, following people that know the right blogs and organisations in your industry and being more aware of the changes and trends around you.

“The second thing is the relationship with the CTO/CIO is probably the most important relationship you have in the company; it’s a true power couple,” he said. “It’s the interface of creativity and technology that’s the sweet spot for organisations now. Go out and meet a geek, or find your inner geek.”

Baker added creativity is about solving problems, not about colouring in. “Creativity at its best is innovation,” he said.

Panellists also saw the lines between marketing, technology and data skills blurring, and agreed there was a need to have more horizontal-driven operational models.

“Functionally, you’ll always need specialist skills within organisations. The real trick is how to have centres of excellence in functions but turn the organisation on its side and work across the business to collaborate on solutions,” Sainsbury said.

“The faster you make that shift from being stove pipes to running on railway tracks, the faster you get good quality solutions to customers.”

DT has moved away from having a creative or technology director and more to a partner model around providing a service, Vella said.

“We talk about ‘T shape’ internally – the more senior you get, the more horizontal you need to be,” he said. “At the lower levels, there’s still an important role for specialists. But over time, we’re developing those staff and broadening their horizon.”

Baker pointed out 30 per cent of the roles in his marketing team didn’t exist five years ago. Among new skills being brought in are publishing, editorial and social channel expertise.

Proof of success

Panellists were also asked how they measure the effectiveness of their customer engagement strategies and continue gaining investment and support for initiatives. Baker said the proof was in the pudding, pointing out that an engaged customer is 23 per cent more valuable to an organisation. An engaged customer also reduces costs in terms of retaining them.

“The true value is what they say about you on platforms,” Baker claimed. According to industry research, 24 per cent of people who see friends’ holiday pictures make a decision to go on holiday, he said.

“Of those, 23 per cent went on same holiday their friend was on. Just do the math. It’s that engagement and way of looking at the customer and new metrics around that – NPS for example – that are right up there now,” he said.

At AMP, Sainsbury started proving the value of customer centricity by making sure shareholders had clear metrics.

“A customer with one product is worth X, but a customer with five products is eight times that,” he said. “Average retention of a customer who stays with us for five years and has one product is 58 per cent, whereas with someone with five products it’s 93 per cent.”

AMP also uses NPS as its measure of record and Sainsbury added it represents a large portion of bonus KPIs across the organisation.

Pictured (from left): HCF's Stephen Nugent, Tourism Australia's Nick baker, DT's Brian vella, AMP's Paul Sainsbury, and panel moderator, Catherine Fox.

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