​How three Aussie brands are making CX a vital strategy

Three of Australia’s most dynamic brands sat down to discuss customer experience (CX) at Twilio’s Engage event in Sydney this week

Three of Australia’s most dynamic brands sat down to discuss customer experience (CX) and why it is so vital at Twilio’s Engage event in Sydney this week. 

Head of application development at Allianz Australia, Anna O’Brien; head of customer operations at Big Red Group (BRG), Marc Bindlechner; and managing director of aussieBum, Sean Ashby, all agreed customer experience and customer centricity were vital to both survival and brand differentiation now and into the future. Each started off with the unique challenges they face in their businesses in delivering exceptional CX.

“Like every large insurer, we have a multitude of systems on the back end,” O’Brien said. “And we don’t have something that knits all those together. We also have a very diverse of archive base, as our customers are all different; baby boomers are different to gen Z and the way they want to engage is quite different, so we have to build in the customer we are trying to service at an individual level. 

“Ultimately, we have to bring the customer front and centre, so customer centricity is the challenge.” 

BRG was founded out of Red Balloon, and over the last two years has expanded its offering, bringing other businesses into the group. 

“CX is the absolute foundation of what we do," Bindlechner said. “At BRG, our purpose is to shift the way people experience life. It’s all experience, from initial searching and browsing right to after they’ve participated. So every touch point needs to be exceptional.

"We have a variety of customers we deal with and we have to respect customers across different brands, because they each have different purchasing experiences."

With additional brands coming into the BRG fold, the biggest challenge is technology integration. "We’ve taken legacy systems along with the brands we took on, so currently we are very multichannel and working our way to omnichannel," Bindlechner continued.

He explained BRG has four unique buyer types: Purchaser, gift recipient, redeemer, and participant. "Our journey is not just one customer; there is also a whole social connection around them as well. It’s critical we listen to customers and act quickly to make sure the experience is the best it can be. Our suppler relationships are also treated as direct customers. 

“Ultimately it comes down to being aware of our brand and what our brand promise is. BRG stands for gifting experiences that are seamless, arrive on time, redemption is easy, and experience the customer goes on is seamless. Adrenaline needs to facilitate a quick, live booking experience. These are very different customer profiles, so our customer engagement can’t be a single strategy, it needs to be based on purchasing behaviour and what customers are hoping to get out of a transaction.” 

Ashby said aussieBum essentially failed in Australia but ended up being highly successful around the world because the brand is ahead of the curve and cuts through the beige to excite and engage. 

O’Brien said it is customer experience Allianz is increasingly trying to use to differentiate its brand in a crowded insurance market. 

“Realistically, insurance products aren’t all that different and in the current competitive market there’s very little variation in price. The big differentiator is the experience you give the customer,” she said. “CX is vitally important for both retention and growth. Customer loyalty increases the likelihood of them buying additional products from you, and more importantly customers will recommend you to family and friends, so cross sell and upsell goes up. 

“The trend today is towards a digital experience, so customers can self-serve anywhere, on any platform, at any time. But we have to be mindful and step back and understand our customer base. Gone are the days we develop something and send it to market and forget about it. We need to deliver new ways of communication and build in feedback loop to capture the effectiveness of communications and engagement." 

O'Brien described getting to a point where the customer rates you as best-in-class is an infinite loop. "You only succeed when you meet their expectations. Leveraging every customer interaction is an opportunity to be better. You can’t have tunnel vision and serve only one section,” she said.

Ashby saw the only way to grow being through innovation and having a coalface connection with the customer. 

“The only way to sustain your audience and grow trust is to keep up with technology and UX for what a global audience expects,” he said. “Take the eye off the ball for a minute and you are out of touch. We shouldn’t be communicating via EDMs anymore, we should be on WhatsApp and SMS. So it’s being addicted to these techs, and understanding the ABC building blocks and then taking on the right technology. Don’t get an agency to do it for you, build it yourself.” 

Bindlechner said BRG looks at customer trends at an individual level, tailoring to the stage of journey a consumer is in.   

“There is the initial stage of purchase, when email and email and phone contact is fine. However, if they are standing in front of a supplier and their experience is not happening, they want fast service for resolution and they want you to know the position they are in,” he explained. 

“The big challenge is that last mile; once they’ve booked, the relationship transfers from us to the supplier, so how do we maintain that experience, because we will be held accountable."

Trust is a vital ingredient and BRG sets goals around this. The overarching company goal is to serve an experience every second of the day. Currently, it's serving up an experience every 39 seconds. 

“Our customers need to trust the transaction and know we are here for them regardless of where they are up to in the journey. We own it end to end to maintain brand loyalty,” Bindlechner said.

Ashby said the buck stops with him, and if a customer if can’t talk to him, that’s a big problem. He recommended all brands keep it human, no matter what technology is used for best practice CX. Bindlechner said the customer is at the heart of all conversations at BRG.

“We take a test-and-learn approach with our teams, voice of customer is feeding through the whole organisation so no matter what function you’re in, we’re all aligned to that common goal,” he added.

Finally, O’Brien said simplification is key. “We have to make it easy for the customer to do business with us. We need to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and understand the experience they get," he said.

"Then we need to make it simple and easy. In this way the customer is happy, and other costs also go down as well because we’ve streamlined and taken the complexity layer off.”

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