Engaging employees for CX success

Customer engagement success isn't just about what you put in front of external consumers, it's also about your internal employees

Being a more customer-led business doesn’t just require a greater understanding and empathy towards your customers, not is going to purely be delivered in the channels and devices you’re interacting with them in.  

Customer centricity also requires an organisation-wide cultural shift to commit to being more customer-led. And to do that, every single one of your staff has be behind the push.  

Here, we talk to several marketing leaders about the steps they and their brands are taking to get employees more actively engaged with customer experience excellence and innovation.  

Sara Daymond

Executive manager, marketing, insights and experience, VicSuper  

Our value proposition is to be a financial coach for our members across all our touchpoints.  So we recognised pretty early on that we needed to make sure everyone in the business understood why we needed to deliver, had the tools  to enable them and ‘owned’ their part of the experience.   

Sara Daymond
Sara Daymond

To achieve this, our team worked closely with the people experience team to develop and deliver what we called ‘Activate Program’.  Everyone in the business, including the CEO and executive team, participated. The program provided a great platform to get everyone in the organisation understanding how the customer experience was fundamental to our growth and developing tools that allowed them to execute. It’s meant staff now ‘own’ their part of the experience, with activities included in their KPIs.  

We’ve also developed an automated voice of the customer Program providing quarterly survey feedback across a range of experiences.  It’s been a great way to get all the owners of our core experiences right across the business around the table to discuss opportunities for advocacy and identify the gaps and areas we need to work on.   

In addition, the chief technology officer and I work closely together and CX is a core component of the technology roadmap.  This means we’ve a collective view on priorities championed from the top down.   

All our CX projects involve cross-functional teams, because having team members that communicate well and understand each other’s role and contribution has been critical.  Having a user experience role being part of the team has really helped us focus on the customer and ‘keep things real’ rather than the initiative developed solely via business analysts and the IT team.  Our key learning is that agile approaches work best for small to medium projects and great communication is critical. 

Megan McAlpine

Chief marketing and digital officer, Vision Australia and Seeing Eye Dogs  

As a ‘for purpose’ organisation, Vision Australia is mission driven to support people with vision loss to live the life they choose.  

Megan McAlpine
Megan McAlpine

Person-centred practice and the principles of universal design have been used for many years here at Vision Australia to design workplaces, products and services, and environments that are accessible and inclusive to people with different abilities. Vision Australia’s workforce is unique in that 15 per cent of the workforce is blind or has low vision. That gives us 120 people with lived experience to co-design with.  

The challenge for us is to ideate accessibly when some CX principles or popular applications may not be full inclusive of everyone. There are a number of barriers we have to overcome to adapt the CX process to our workforce:  

All our external consultants are formally inducted into Vision Australia. While consultants are experts in their own fields, many external consultants have knowledge gaps when it comes to accessibility, particularly as it relates to the blind and low vision community.  The induction process is tailored towards the specific requirements of the project, but often includes: Training in alternative forms of written communication; audio description of visual materials, use of assistive technology; and accessibility guidelines for designing online or built environments.

The user-design process is modified to make it more inclusive and accessible. Support materials are produced using high contrast or tactile graphics and, where possible, materials are provided beforehand in the participant’s preferred format (such as large print, recorded audio, electronic formats or braille). The environment is modified to include assistive technology such as magnification devices and screen readers.

The facilitation process for group activities is also been designed to meet the needs of all including our colleagues who are blind or have low vision. It’s a part of our culture to do a roll call at every meeting so that all participants, regardless of vision, know who’s in the room and where they are in relation to others. Facilitators use techniques that ensure that everyone gets to speak such as rotating clockwise around a group to get an idea from each person in turn. Community engagement platforms such as Bang the Table have also been adapted to support accessible ideation, prototyping and usability testing.

Accessible design is a way of life at Vision Australia. The experience of blindness and low vision is the starting point for design at Vision Australia, not an afterthought. It also ensures that users of our services are involved in driving design every step of the way.  

Jim Matheson

VP marketing and growth, hipages  

There are three key ways we’re address this particular question.

1. Technology and customer first  

As a consumer-facing business, hipages has always aimed at meeting the needs of users, while developing smart technologies that simplify the whole customer journey. Emerging technologies have opened up a lot of opportunities that have helped us achieve our vision.  

Jim Matheson
Jim Matheson

In this process, it’s important to constantly come back to why we’re doing what we’re doing: To solve pain points between tradies and homeowners. So we base our decisions on customer insights we gather from focus groups, surveys and the use of data.  

Our data scientists work closely with the business to ensure meaningful and timely insights. The next evolution for us is in this space is artificial intelligence and language processing to better understand the job descriptions and the tradie quality so we can predict positive outcomes. Keeping the customer at heart while planning our future really motivates our team, as they know they are working towards the great goal of helping Australians.  

2.Cross-functional collaboration  

Hipages originally began as a startup and we continue to hold onto that entrepreneurial spirit today. The company is built on a culture of equality, with limited hierarchy, which fuels our growth and empowers all our people to continue innovating and feel empowered to identify and develop ideas.

We have set up a very collaborative approach and have created cross-functional teams allowing for a lightweight process. As the VP of marketing and growth, I oversee multi-disciplinary project teams including marketers, developers, product managers, CX designers and engineers. Each of these team members brings a very different perspective and their own area of expertise to our growth team. When combined, these create both innovation and high-end customer experience.  


We encourage employees to pioneer new avenues of technology and efficiency. An example is our annual hackathon, where teams work collaboratively on the problems or ideas that they are passionate about. Everyone in the business is invited to participate, from engineers to salespeople.

Some of our biggest and most valuable CX innovations have been born in these hackathons, our speech recognition tool being one of them.  

Rod Finch

Director strategic marketing and CX, AMP  

Strong leadership, enterprise-wide systems and programs, and accountability have been three of the most important factors in engaging AMP employees with our customer strategy.  

In 2013, AMP was the first of Australia’s large financial services companies to appoint a chief customer officer. Reporting to the CEO, and with a voice to the board, the role was both a significant symbolic and practical shift to progress AMP’s customer-centred strategy.  

The role set in motion significant change, including enterprise-wide initiatives designed to unify the organisation behind the strategy. The concept of Help is one of the three core elements that underpins AMP’s culture, while systems such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system have been implemented.  

Now used by more than 120 teams across AMP, NPS serves as a pulse check of how well we’re meeting our customers’ needs and expectations. It also drives bottom-up change, making it easy for employees to relate directly to customers, helping them to change processes and systems that may get in the way of a better customer experience.  

A human-centred design (HCD) team was also established, putting customers’ needs at the centre of how AMP designs products and services. Our range of digital tools, including the Bett3r Account and My AMP app, together with our Goals 360 approach to financial advice, were all designed using HCD principles.  

The chief customer officer also became the lead voice and advocate for an ongoing enterprise-wide Help communication campaign. Through Help themed communications, including Help LabsHelp Reports and Help Series, we’ve demonstrated our customer strategy, its impact on customers and connected employees through to the customer, regardless of whether or not they’re in a customer-facing role.  

Finally, it’s been essential that, as an organisation, we’re all accountable for customer delivery. A significant component of AMP’s remuneration framework is linked to customer advocacy measures, including NPS and strengthening our customer centred culture. This has been a powerful and tangible signal to our people.      

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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