Why CBUS chose customer blueprinting as the first step in martech transformation

Industry super fund IT and digital leader shares the journey the company has been on to bring digital and member engagement capabilities in-house and its decision to invest in the entire Adobe stack

When crafting the blueprint for marketing technology transformation at Australian industry super fund, CBUS, its head of technology and digital, Rob Pickering, turned to customer experience design as his first port of call.

“We did a lot of work around service blueprinting and understanding what our customer interactions looked like, plus what friction points were sitting around that,” the technology leader told CMO. “We brought customers in, had workshops with them, and used that human-centred design to decide what the sorts of experiences they wanted to see would be.”  

For example, with an emphasis on the building and construction sector, CBUS had to factor in the fact customers were not necessarily white-collar workers and their use of technology is commonly mobile-first.

“What you get out of the conversation is not just improvements to technology, but also the process and people things round it,” Pickering continued. “We were careful in the blueprint to not talk about technology, but instead, what the customer experience needs to look like and how we keep that at the forefront as we build technology out.”

CBUS is just a month shy of going live with the complete Adobe Experience Cloud stack. It’s a significant investment driven by a desire to control the end-to-end experience of its members and ultimately, help them improve retirement outcomes.

The company had previously been using Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) to run its public website on a managed service instance. Yet otherwise, it relied on back-end administrators to deliver experiences to customers.

Two years ago, the decision was made to bring these touchpoints in and build out internal capability. Pickering joined just over a year ago to lead the technical transformation. It’s work that’s seen CBUS invest in the full Adobe Experience Cloud, including Adobe Campaign, Target and Audience Cloud.

“This is about closing the feedback loop and having a single experience that is seamless across the touchpoints for our members,” Pickering said.

In approaching transformation, the initial benchmark for Pickering has been to ensure CBUS doesn’t go backwards. “We didn’t want to try and boil the ocean - we want to deliver an experience at least as good, if not better, than what we had historically, working with our administration systems. That then gives us a strong platform to innovate and iterate post-delivery,” he said.

CBUS has partnered with Deloitte Digital on building out capability. Pickering has also made sure strong business owners are engaged to deliver on the customer experience-focused parts of the platform.  

“Our approach was to look at what we were doing today – that’s table stakes – then understand where are the areas we could develop quick wins for,” he explained. “These were things we could improve.

“It doesn’t sound very jazzy, but what we wanted to build underneath was a strong foundation of integration and platform capability. That meant we could then use the data generated from systems we did implement to decide what to do next.”  

The first release of the full stack is 6 May and based on a combination of Deloitte and CBUS capability. First cab off the rank has been moving CBUS’s public website to AEM on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment.

“It made sense for that to be the test case for the robustness of the underlying platforms,” Pickering said. “But we have many moving parts to this project – we have to work with our administrators to leverage their APIs, we have to work with a variety of stakeholders around preparedness to be ready, and we need to communicate with members about potential changes coming. So there’s no real opportunity to demo stuff. It’s all very tightly integrated to a program.

“We’re aiming for more than base capability, but we want to build something that allows the data to define what we do next. That’s a bit different to trying to work out initially all the things you might want to do and build to.”

Fostering agility and customer thinking

This has meant a shift to a more agile view of technology delivery over time. As Pickering put it, the express desire of the business, executive and board is to move to a much more agile way of working.

“We understand just putting in technology isn’t going to solve the problem. It’s a good catalyst to put in place some level of focus and understanding that we won’t be doing business like we used to,” he said. “As these are new capabilities, we will also need new skills and ways of working. So as we deliver the transformation capability, the concepts of product owners and things like stand-ups have become the language of the business.

“It’s a nice legacy for a transformation activity to leave.”

Another consensus at CBUS is the commitment to customer outcomes. “For me, it wasn’t a matter of having to get the business to think through a customer lens – we were already doing it,” Pickering said.

“One of CBUS’s values is members are at the heart of what we do.”

What also keeps teams at CBUS united are shared metrics, historically an area of disconnect between customer-facing teams, marketing and the IT department.

“Our metrics are both focused on internal customers as well as external customers. It’s our job to improve our members’ retirement outcomes,” Pickering said. “As long as what we’re doing is congruent with that – and everyone in the business passionately believes it is – then we’ll continue to see success in the marketplace and live to our values and mission. I feel really confident our KPIs are aligned because they are the same metrics.”  

Of course, being in the highly regulated financial services industry, there is also a need to work closely with regulators. Pickering said he’s been engaging consultatively with regulators from day one of the transformation project.

“The thing we have to be conscious of is that we don’t try and prioritise one over the other – you have to walk and talk,” he said.  

The focus on members was also well entrenched prior to Australia’s Royal Commission in the financial services space, Pickering said.

“Our approach to projects has not shifted because of that,” he commented. “But as you build out customer experiences, our ability to ensure member data continues to be secure and private is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It’s certainly the thing that keeps me awake at night. That’s a key focus in us delivering.”  

To help, CBUS is complementing the Adobe tech investment with data and analytics capability improvements. Being able to get data into a single platform is why CBUS has invested in the entirety of the Adobe platform, Pickering said.

“We need that closed feedback loop between the systems, and have it underlaid by one analytics platform. We’ll then use that analytics system to our larger data lake to derive insights across the entirety of our environment,” he said.   

“Our analytics has historically been backwards looking rather than using data to derive insights. We are on a journey around that. With the best-of-breed tools we’ve chosen, and our view of doing things in an integrated, holistic way, we’ll have the data we need to be able to generate the sorts of member experiences members want and desire when we launch our new platform.”

Pickering added CBUS is looking at how to bring in other data sets outside the Adobe stack to correlate outcomes and deliver information across the business.  

“What I want for the business is to have true data democracy – I don’t mind what you visualise it in, what matters is that the insights you want to do your job and to deliver member outcomes are delivered in a way you can absorb them and at a time when you can absorb them best,” he said. “That allows us to make the best decisions.

“That’s what we’re building for and I’m confident we will get there. It will require that constant north star view of member-first. Keep building to that north star and you won’t go too far wrong.”

Pickering claimed CBUS is already seeing very early results with its work on campaigns, which indicate the tech will be a positive investment over time.

“We know superannuation is a poorly engaged with vertical. Having our members engaged in their super early and take steps to improve their retirement outcomes is living to the values of being member-centric,” he said. “As we build this capability further, we’ll be able to come back to members with much more information around what they can do at a very personalised level to deliver a better retirement outcome individually and their families.”

The more data insight CBUS can build, the more it can intervene at times that matter most to people, Pickering added.

“With our CX focus, we might only get to engage with customers once or twice per year. That means every interaction needs to be very good, whether it be phone based, digital or unassisted. We have to get that right so members continue to be happy,” he concluded.  

- Nadia Cameron travelled to Adobe Summit as a guest of Adobe.

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