CXO profile: Customer experience as the key to brand survival

ME's CXO talks to CMO about how CX is the new brand differentiator and why she expects to see more chief experience officers in the c-suite

CXO of ME, Ingrid Purcell.
CXO of ME, Ingrid Purcell.

As brands work to differentiate on customer experience, there’s going to be a significant rise in chief experience officers appointed to the executive leadership team.

This is the view of ME Bank’s new chief experience office (CXO), Ingrid Purcell, who was appointed to the new role late last year.

Responsible for the bank’s brand, customer insights, marketing, communications and digital functions, Purcell joined ME as the brand and digital director in 2014, and also acted in the role of group executive, people experience, from May 2017.

Prior to this, Ingrid worked as a business director at creative digital agencies, MRM Meteorite, Publicis Chemistry, and Lavender, experiences she says gave her a wide variety of experience across brand and digital strategy.

“I started my career in marketing, working at American Express, Disney, and Universal Studios before moving to work for customer experience agency, Lavender, in Sydney before moving to Auckland and working on the Westpac account,” she tells CMO. “Following this, I moved to London for 10 years, where I continued to work in digital agencies such as Publicis and MRM Meteorite, both of which exposed me to brand and digital strategies across a range of industries and global organisations.”

In a career filled with highlights, it is her time with ME that stands out for Purcell, in particular being on the ground when the brand was launched.

“I’ve worked on many exciting brands and projects in my past, but the satisfaction of launching the new ME brand over the last two years has been an absolute highlight,” she says. “I’m proud of the reaction the brand has received externally and the business growth is has fuelled. But I’m probably even prouder of the cultural change it has driven inside the bank. It’s driving fresh thinking and enthusiasm for our future.”

Given her vast experience on brands and within agencies, it’s no surprise Purcell stresses customer experience must be at the centre of everything a brand does, from the inside out.

“A key differentiator for brands is the customer experience – how your customers experience the brand and how your brand makes them feel,” she continues. “I think the trend in appointing CXOs will only grow as customers demand an improved experience across all industries.

“Younger generations are said put the highest expectations of all on their experiences with businesses. They expect brands to deliver tech-savvy experiences that are instantaneous, highly personalised, secure, and entertaining.

“Companies like Uber, AirBbn or Deliveroo, have raised the bar for all industries. They have built their businesses by addressing pain points that exist within their industries, and by offering seamless services. I don’t think customer experience is a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity.

“I have a CX crush on Air New Zealand at the moment. They have created such differentiating experiences for flyers.”  

For Purcell, CX is vital to all stages in the customer journey and not just the external customer-facing initiatives. Therefore, living the brand from the inside out is crucial for success.

“I read a great article a while ago about ‘your brand being a glass box’, which posited that what happens internally is visible to the world. It’s important to improve the experience not just for your customers, but also for your people,” she adds.

Tips for improving CX

A good experience for the people working within a business naturally lends itself to improving CX, Purcell continues, as does agility and incremental improvements over time. Technology is also key, as is measuring CX via Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other measures.

“You must build a team that can operate in an agile way and truly think ‘customer first’,” she says. “And rather than aiming to create a ‘big bang’ to improve the experience, which can take a long time, aim to make incremental improvements quickly. Delivering ongoing benefits to the customer and seeing the differences you make is highly rewarding and motivating for everyone. 

“For most industries, technology is extremely linked to success. We live in an increasingly digital world.”

The fintech industry has evolved quickly over recent years as a result, and provides a wealth of partnering opportunities for ME to help solve pain points in the customer journey.

“While ME has its own culture of innovation and ideas generation, and an in-house technology team that works with the business to develop and realise these ideas, we will also be increasing our focus on fintech partnering in the future,” Purcell says.

In terms of measurement, meanwhile, Purcell and the team are mapping customer journeys, identifying customer pain points, and measuring the improvement in these areas. Each pain point might have a different measure, such as increased conversion, or reduced service calls. Ultimately this culminates in an NPS score tracked at a macro level.

Ultimately in her new role, Purcell hopes to ensure customers of ME enjoy a seamless experience, and is setting up a vision to enable this both now and in the future.

“My responsibility is to put customers’ needs at the centre of what we do, ensuring they have a seamless experience along all the touchpoints in their journey with ME,” she says. “The role of my team is to set the experience strategy across all the business’ touchpoints, some of which also fall under my remit to manage, like digital channels, social media, communications, and marketing.

“Having been newly appointed to the role, I’m in the process of setting our customer experience vision and looking at the way we collaborate across the bank to improve our customer journeys. It’s an exciting phase I’m enjoying, and I look forward to a time when we centre all we do around the customer experience.”  

Purcell claims CXO role has the perfect blend of creativity, customer focus, and technology. 

“We are a different kind of bank – our core purpose is to help all Australians get ahead—and this differentiates us and guides the decisions we make,” she concludes “Our brand strategy is to continue to do things differently and appeal to the large and growing group of Australians that want a genuine banking alternative to the Big Four.”  

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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