26 50

CMO50 2016 #26-50: Richard Burns, Aussie Home Loans

  • Name Richard Burns
  • Title General manager, customer experience and technology
  • Company Aussie Home Loans
  • Commenced role February 2015
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 30 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Financial services
  • 2015 ranking 8
  • Related

    Brand Post

    From launching a new customer nurture program to leading the agency selection process (which took an innovative approach and focused on the cultural fit of the teams), Aussie Home Loans general manager of customer experience and technology, Richard Burns, has a lot to smile about.

    He is making a difference every day by being a central part of the organisation: he has a wide range of responsibilities outside of marketing in his role as general manager customer experience and technology, which includes all of Aussie’s technology (infrastructure, software development, security and workplace technology), Customer Contact Centre and Project Management.

    “From a technology perspective I have driven considerable change across the business to transform Aussie’s technology and digital capabilities,” he says.

    In the last 12 months this has involved: setting a new technology vision and strategy for Aussie; and adopting a “bimodal approach” to its technology that allows Aussie to support key business areas that do not require substantial change (but are core to our day-to-day running) whilst developing platform capabilities with key partners.

    He has also structured the technology team into ‘Technology Operations’ and ‘Digital Transformation’ and delivered technology led projects that rationalised and significantly upgraded the company’s marketing campaign management capability, which delivered vastly improved Business Intelligence capabilities to frontline sales leaders, and supported the transition to an agile working environment through the adoption of workplace technology and commenced the move of Aussie’s core technology infrastructure to the Cloud.

    “This has resulted in significantly reduced operating costs, improved technology capabilities to meet the needs of our brokers and customers and a more innovative and collaborative culture across the business.”

    From the CMO50 submission:

    Innovative thinking

    Burns says the key insight that drove the development of the new customer nurture program revolved around the missed opportunity concerning customers that come to Aussie for a home loan but, for a variety of reasons, are not ready or able to get a loan at that time.

    He says mortgage brokers did not have a consistent way to stay in touch with these very warm leads as it is difficult to know if a potential customer will be able or ready to get a loan in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years.

    Therefore, the company developed a nurture program that sends regular communications to these potential customers based on the reason they did not take a loan with us (e.g. lack of deposit, haven’t found the right property, poor credit rating etc) through implementing Adobe Campaign.

    He says the communications are sent to customers centrally, but appear to come directly from the broker. The communications are primarily educational in nature (based on key insights the company has gained through speaking to customers and brokers on the reason they were not able to take out a loan at the time they saw us) and rely on a rich content platform developed to support Aussie’s overall marketing and brand strategy. Burns says this represents a major time saving for brokers, an improved experience for potential customers and a substantially improved brand experience which can be controlled by the marketing team (not its 1000 mortgage brokers).

    Data- and technology-driven approach

    Explaining Aussie Home Loans is a franchise business, Burns says a key role Aussie head office plays is to supply franchisees with new leads to help build their business.

    He says the company has undertaken a comprehensive range of marketing activities that result in customers coming to Aussie’s Contact Centre or to the website to register their interest in talking to a broker. Analysis on the conversion rates of digital leads (which were much lower than phone leads through the contact centre) led to multiple investments in the technology to support the initial phase of the digital customer journey with Aussie.

    He says improvements to the journey included: straight through processing of digital leads so that brokers receive them instantly (previously some leads were delayed by days before being sent to brokers); greater information about the source of the lead being sent to brokers; improved real-time reporting dashboards for sales leaders; the implementation of improved attribution software to extend the analytics around digital leads from partner websites through to settled loan transactions (previously attribution was limited from partner websites to the Aussie website).

    He says further work is being undertaken to improve the experience on the Aussie website for customers searching for us using a mobile phone (now more than 40% of our traffic).

    “Whilst the Aussie website is responsive to screen size, greater analysis of the mobile journey has led the company to make key changes to page order, language and button placement. The work and analysis continues on a daily basis as we continue to use data to iterate,” he says.

    Empowered and strategic thinking

    Burns says there are are multiple initiatives being undertaken to ensure the Aussie team is more focused on understanding customers and undertaking a more customer-led approach to its go-to-market strategy.

    “Significant investment was undertaken in landmark customer research at the end of 2015 to understand the thoughts and actions of customers, prospects and consumers that chose to go with a competitor.”

    Key insights from the research have been delivered to both its mortgage brokers (through quarterly sales conference and workshops) and to all corporate staff. Customer personas were developed that have driven key creative, media and content strategy decisions within the marketing team and the development of sales strategies and training material for its mortgage brokers. These personas are also the basis for key journey mapping which is currently taking place.

    Within the customer experience and technology team, he has mandated the team regularly visit Aussie stores and report back to their peers on their observations. “They are also required to listen to customer calls in our contact centre each month. We are in the process of developing customer forums to collate and analyse our customer feedback from all parts of the business including our contact centre, website, social media, brokers and complaints.”

    The marketing team have also developed and launched new micro NPS surveys at different parts of the customer journey (prior to their first appointment, post their first appointment, when the customer settles a loan and one year after they settle a loan).

    “We are continuing to experiment with alternate ways to improve the response rates to these surveys. I am also driving the increased investment in reporting to sales leaders and brokers on multiple aspects of the customer journey with leaderboards to help them both better understand what part of the customer experience they are performing well and what can be improved.”

    Fostering agility

    He says agile work practices have been rolled out across the entire organisation with the marketing team being some of the early adopters.

    Some of the practices include using short, cross functional stand up meetings for most initiatives. The company is also using visual management boards and electronic scrum boards (Trello) to share with agency partners.

    “We have a culture of continuous improvement where we develop, test and iterate concepts continually (examples include our digital advertising, website content and local area marketing content),” he says.

    “We have empowered the marketing teams with software and systems that enable this iteration such as Adobe Campaign, Adobe Experience Manager and Salesforce. We demonstrate our work to each other and other business units through short “showcases” on a regular basis where we seek feedback. We use data wherever possible to drive our decisions and have a preference for getting to market early with a concept and then testing it versus existing work; and we are investing in further Agile training for team members.”


    He says creativity is playing a critical role in the company’s marketing strategy. He conducted a thorough search of the market early in 2016 with the specific goal of finding the right strategic creative partner for Aussie.

    “The challenge we needed to bring creative thinking to was the need to increase the desirability of the Aussie brand for a wider audience. The Aussie brand has exceptional levels of brand awareness and consideration (5th after the four major banks when customers consider where they should get a home loan), but their Intent to Purchase drops off dramatically as many customers do not believe Aussie is “a brand for me”. We needed to seek creative ways to shift this perception through a variety of channels and touchpoints and use creative techniques to increase the emotional attachment of prospective customers to the Aussie brand,” he says.

    As such, the marketing team, along with creative partner, The Special Group, developed an integrated campaign which has multiple creative components - including TV campaign, a content film series, beefed up website strategy and local area marketing ( including in-store posters, digital screens, product brochures, business cards, email templates, press ads) to deliver its brand strategy.

    “From a creative perspective the team challenged ourselves to come up with a brand platform that would not only engage our customers but just importantly our brokers too. To this end the campaign centres around our brokers as the heroes and central characters of the campaign.”

    Share this article