CMO profile: The strategy behind Cash Converters brand and customer experience reboot

Trio of moves - from customer insights gathering to digital to brand - aims to change mindsets about the pawnbroking and second-hand retailer brand

Cash Converters is aiming to perform a hat trick: Focus better on customers, enhance digital capabilities across sales and marketing, and beef up brand awareness.

That at least is how CMO, Alice Manners, sums up the sweeping business and digital transformation occurring across the Perth-based retail pawnbroking company.

“2017 was a year of transition for Cash Converters,” the former IAB CEO, told CMO. “There is a completely new leadership team in place, led by CEO, Mark Reid, and this restructure with the new leadership team is focused on full business transformation.”  

Cash Converters is comprised of personal finance (small to medium loans), retail stores (second hand goods), and pawnbroking services. The ambition is to transform Cash Converters to become the leading and most trusted provider of personal finance, as well as second-hand retail goods, Manners said.

To get there, the first step has to be putting the customer at the heart of everything that the company does, she said. To help, Cash Converters kicked off a local customer engagement program, called GEM internally, and is focusing on transforming digital capabilities across all website platforms in sales and marketing.

It is also rolling out Adobe’s marketing technology offerings in order to build a single view of customer for its marketing function and better personalise engagement across channels and touchpoints.

What’s more, Cash Converters is revamping its ‘Speed to Cash’ website on the personal finance side of the business, in order to improve the application process for the customer when applying for a personal loan. This will be complemented by a new e-commerce platform launching in August, which replaces the current online store and is designed to further improve on the user experience. On top of this, new search functionality on the site is being launched.

Cash Converters’ current e-commerce platform, called Webshop, has low awareness in market and doesn’t allow the team to offer a great user experience, Manners said. “The idea is to tie it back to the brand so it doesn’t need a name,” she explained.  

Brand awareness is another important pillar of the strategy. “Trust and reputation are a challenge, but more importantly, people don’t know what we do anymore,” Manners continued.

Evolving the brand and the product range is therefore another key priority on the list. To support this, Manners is also working to improve risk management processes and procedures to highlight the focus on being a responsible lender.

“This is all about changing the way we approach our marketing campaigns,” she said.  

CX program jewel of the crown

At the heart of the marketing strategy is recognition that the company needs to get to know its customers better - and to get feedback and properly communicate with them, Manners said. So that was a significant first step forward for Cash Converters.

The resulting GEM customer experience program kicked off with a working group, getting stores actively involved. The focus on training continues today. 

“We have an incredible number of loyalty customers who love us and have been loyal to us for many years, but we don’t talk to them as if we know them," Manners explained.  

Rolling out the Adobe Marketing Cloud will help build a single customer view in a reporting environment that can be used to profile and segment customer data. 

Importantly, however, the customer engagement program has been a game-changer for the company since launching last year, and already seen its NPS scores improve, Manners said. Cash Converters uses Medallia’s platform to capture and analyse real-time customer feedback. 

"The platform embeds the customer in organisations with customer data, insights and tools to analyse feedback and make future experiences great. It is delivered under a software-as-a-service [SaaS] model, which offers an unlimited number of questions, survey formats and alerts to individuals and groups within the organisation,” Manners explained.   

Through the GEM program, the team then measures and responds to customer satisfaction scores. At every customer touchpoint, customers are invited to rate their experience.

To date, 150 stores have rolled out the customer engagement program, half of these corporate stores, and half franchised businesses.

"The GEM Customer Experience program has been implemented during a heavy period of change and as such, is providing an essential view and voice of customer experience which will assist during the transformation – both cultural and digital,” Manners said. “As we evolve the business, and the brand, we need to be attracting new to business customers, so having a customer engagement program was critical. 

"The current stage of development is focused on operationalising the customer lens across all existing and future projects. This includes creating processes and channels for the store network to filter customer insights to the business to inform and create action." 

It’s the neutral players for the brand – people that didn’t love the company or hate the company – that are in Manners’ sights.

“These are the people that have never been in the store. For us, that’s the opportunity. How do we get that neutral element to shift?” she asked.  

Phase two of the program then sees GEM rolled out across the personal finance side of the business.

The benefits of the program are already wide-reaching right across the business, Manners said, explaining it’s great tool for the store networks and the business, holistically, to listen and learn and act on customer feedback.

“It has been one of the most positive things we’ve done. It is putting that focus for the whole business around the customer. It is about putting systems and processes for customers to get their feedback. And we are getting to the point now where it will start to influence our organisational development and we are looking at it from a training perspective and from a cultural transformation perspective as well,” she said.  

For Manners, having a CX program is invaluable. “With all of the transformation we’re going through, this is the most critical piece,” she said.

“And what’s really nice about it is that customers love our staff and vice a versa, so we’re starting to get that positive feedback through.

“Store managers are responsible for closing the loop with customers and looking for those opportunities to surprise and delight customers so they do return to the store. The focus on closing the loop, and bubbling up insights from the stores, then comes up to the Gem team. So it is really organisational and we can’t be siloed in how we do this.”

Longer term, Manners said the team is looking to add in text analytics to enable a deeper understanding of the themes and topics influencing customer experience.

"The addition of text analytics to the Medallia platform in FY19 will provide Cash Converters with a deeper understanding and impact of recurring themes and topics influencing the customers’ experience,” she added. “This will further inform decisions and the development of projects and ultimately, the transformation of the business over time."  

Brand building

Brand awareness is another big strategic focus for Cash Converters as it continues on its massive business transformation push. Citing brand health research, Manners said customers have ongoing “confusion and a lack of understanding” in terms of the company’s focus and purpose.

As such, she has been busy rolling out a product-led strategy that focuses on giving customers an understanding about the different products and services on offer. The first of these has been around personal finance, which commenced with a campaign launched last August, called ‘Get Sorted’.  

The Cash Converters team partnered with a new agency, Western Australia-based Rare, which worked with the company’s consumer research team to get an understanding of consumers’ needs when it comes to small/medium loans.

“We’re focused on changing the way we run our campaign activities to ensure we have always-on activity - and we’re targeting very specifically across screens so looking at TV, video and online as our core platforms,” Manners said.  

Meanwhile, the other product focus has been around pawnbroking. Manners noted again the importance of consumer research in retaining relevance.

“The challenge is people don’t know what pawnbroking is anymore. It is such an old-fashioned word. There are a lot of TV shows that are on pawnbroking, but they really focus on the trade. They don’t actually focus on the fact that you get your item back,” she commented.  

In May, the team will roll out its first campaign seeking to ‘reimagine pawnbroking’ and looking at it as a completely new product launch.

The third product play for Manners is around the physical stores and second-hand goods. “The world is moving towards a sharing economy and pre-loved goods,” she pointed out.

While great inroads have already been made, Manners recognised there’s much to be done - and she’s excited by the journey.

“You don’t get that many opportunities where you are doing through real business transformation, real digital transformation, and you’ve got a brand, which we have great brand awareness - 89 per cent - but there’s so much that you can do, and that needs to be done to get people to understand how the company is changing to become a responsible lender,” she concluded.  

“We’re different to the Cash Converters you might have known in the old days.”

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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