Westpac, NAB, RedBalloon debate ingredients of digital transformation

Executives discuss the agility and innovative thinking helping to drive organisational change in the digital and customer-led age

In a radically changing digital marketplace, organisations are under more pressure than ever to create a transformational strategy that moves their brand and culture forward to meet and surpass customer expectations.

Speaking at the Adobe Digital Marketing Symposium in Sydney, executive leaders from Westpac, National Australia Bank and RedBalloon agreed effective transformation comes from within the culture, inherent governance and structure of the organisation.

Historically, ‘governance’ is feared as retaining traditional, or outdated and rigid methodologies. But according to National Australia Banks’ director of digital content, Chris Ho governance should be more about saying yes, rather than saying no.

“We always confuse governance with old business methods, but ultimately we just need to re-evaluate governance and think about it as removing the obstacles to actually get things done so we can be closer to the customer,” he said. “We all want to be a part of something and tap into our potential to change how we all work together."

Changing the internal culture as well as the internal focus of an organisation is a significant challenge, and one that needs to be addressed from the top down through a disruptive framework, claimed Westpac Group’s head of customer relationship management and digital, Karen Ganschow.

“We will turn 200 in 2017, but we still want to think like a startup,” she said. “We constantly want to disrupt ourselves to make a difference to the customer. Everyone needs to think they have a key role to play in enabling the frontline and engaging with the customer.”

To move forward in a digitally competitive environment, it is imperative to encourage change within the organisation, Ganschow said.

“We’ve got a new chief customer officer coming in and he said you’ve got to think big, start small and move fast,” she said. “So I think it is a storytelling process, it is about finding out what will this all look and feel like, how will this be a different experience for the customer and bring them on the journey that sees us forward in the digital space. The storytelling process is about ensuring customers want to live the brand and actually be a part of it.”

RedBalloon’s recently appointed CEO, Nick Baker, agreed. He said it’s all about positioning your marketing strategy for the benefit of the customer, as much as your own.

“That’s the way you can instil your marketing intent and strategic direction,” he said.

In order to maintain a consistent organisational culture, Baker said you need a beacon, or stake in the ground that says this is what the organisation is driving towards. He claimed this involves both storytelling and agility.

“People love to have, as we all do, something that we can believe and something we can see out there and say that is what we want our company to be,” he said. “Vision is great, but ultimately a purpose is key. For us, it’s about curating incredible experiences and bringing them to people and have great memories and moments for the rest of their lives. That’s our purpose and we’re trying to scale that.”

Recently, RedBalloon went through significant cultural change and shifted its approach to optimising the customer relationship, Baker said. At the same time, the company has made significant inroads to ensure employees were happy.

“The connection between optimising the customer relationship and happy employees is really important,” he added. “Because if you get connected and engaged employees, marketing soon manifests itself from internally to the external world. You will have employees who will then want to work on more projects.”

Baker pointed out RedBalloon has won several awards around employee satisfaction, reinforcing how the organisation is a fantastic and extraordinary place to work. But it’s now time to take that a step further.

“We’re now saying: How do we take that wonderful culture that has been bred into the DNA of RedBalloon, and manifest itself online to our customers?” he said. “Because that whole notion of taking an offline culture into the online space is much like when going to the shop for the very first time and somebody says hello and greets you. How do you do that online and give the same sense of welcome and same sense of showing a customer things that may interest them today? That’s our journey.”

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