CMO interview: Bringing customer insights and brand storytelling together at ASB Bank

General manager of marketing for the Commonwealth Bank-owned New Zealand banking group shares how a customer decisioning engine and digital is being united with brand strategy and human values

Shane Evans
Shane Evans


Being customer-led

As a marketer, Evans is excited by how all industries are focusing heavily around the customer. “It is creating amazing opportunity for us to branch out and have greater influence over the customer outcome, more so than at any other point in time,” he says.

And thanks to the scathing findings of Australia’s Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, as well as New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority reports, the whole sector has upped the ante on doing the right thing by customers.

“While we haven’t seen any erosion of our brand metrics to date, it’s something we need to keep a close eye on,” Evans comments. “From ASB’s perspective, we have always had a strong alignment with the community. We were a community bank, grew into a major bank and were acquired by the Commonwealth Bank. Yet we have managed to retain the community focus throughout.

“We are examining our policies and procedures to make sure we can learn from what’s happening in Australia, as there are a lot of learnings to take from this.”

Meanwhile, an adoption of Agile ways of working at ASB are giving Evans and his team more ways to engage cross-functionality and in all stages of the customer journey. It’s led the team build more processes, unlocking better ways of working and efficiencies in marketing management and fostering more experimentation internally.

“When you start moving to a tribe and squad environment, it means the marketer is involved a lot earlier in conversations,” Evans says. “It’s also moving conversations away from how we’re executing, to why we’re doing it, and what’s the role we can play to inform that conversation.

“The top marketers understand the customer and best way to communicate with them. If we have the ability to further influence up the tree, it will result in better outcomes for that customer.”

What’s more, Evans says the best CMOs know to foster creativity even as digital and data-driven approaches become the norm.

“We can’t leave creativity behind as an industry as we move into this automated world. The ability to creatively engage with customers is a critical differentiator,” he says.  

“The other key attribute is leadership and being able to lead teams through periods of change with a  sense of pragmatism. Marketers are typically a bit younger and working with them and enabling them to develop careers in the right way as organisations change is going to be a big focus. It comes back to that concept of constant learning.”  

Check out more of CMO's in-depth marketing leadership profiles:

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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