How flybuys chief customer officer is using insight to drive member engagement

We profile the chief customer officer of flybuys and look at how a behavioural segmentation exercise is helping to direct the current and future direction of the business

Rosemary Martin
Rosemary Martin


What makes up the new normal

As brands start exploring how to approach recovery, Martin again referenced flybuys’ customer insights approach as a key tool for striking the right balance with members. While she didn’t see the COVID-19 crisis being a time of radical innovative for flybuys, it has accelerated the move to think beyond transactional communications with members and think more broadly and contextually about the information it’s sharing.

“That’s about marrying up content as well as offers,” Martin said. “The other acceleration was around customer focus groups. Previously, those were all conducted in-person. We were forced to move those to a virtual environment and we found they work really well. We now can get much better representation of our base through research as a result of that.

“We talk about a new normal. But what I do think is this time has accelerated what we were seeing as trends around consumer behaviour.”  

And in reviewing its strategy, Martin said flybuys’ leadership group has become even more united on it being the right one.

“The next financial year as we come out of this crisis is going to be all about how we start to deliver on some of those key initiatives,” she said. “Then it’s very much around ensuring a better digital experience for our customers, and do create a more rewarding program for our customers as well – what are some of the different ways to earn or use points that we can introduce for members.”  

Being a customer chief

Martin has had a keen eye on customer-led strategy and thinking for many years, working her way up from agency and client-side marketing roles for brands such as Publicis Mojo, London Business School and ANZ Bank, before joining Coles and helping relaunch the flybuys program in 2012.  

Since then, she’s undertaken partnership management, redemption and most recently a strategic role in the project team tasked with establishing flybuys as an independent business post the Wesfarmers-Coles demerger. Her current role covers responsibility for understanding the member upfront, and all insights and experience design work, through to developing the product roadmap and value proposition, brand and go-to-market strategy.

“That is what the chief customer office role is all about – it’s a holistic of understanding customers to developing the right products and propositions, through to communicating and engaging as a brand,” she said.  

For Martin, what makes a great customer experience starts with truly understanding your customers and “knowing what they want so you can deliver on it”. While that hasn’t necessarily changed since her early days as a marketer, what is different is the multitude of touchpoints and interactions available to organisations.

What’s more, to ensure a business is truly customer-led, it’s important to have shared KPIs across your leadership teams, Martin advised. At flybuys, these include things like program satisfaction and NPS, and engagement driven with digital channels as a measure of broader customer engagement.

“It’s not one person that can single-handedly drive customer success and focus through an organisation,” Martin pointed out. “And you do need the buy-in of the leadership team that a customer-led approach is the right approach. You have to prove out that it drives better results for your business.

“I’m fortunate to be in a situation where everyone buys into being customer-led. But it’s quite normal to have tension between commercial interest and customer interests. There has to be that belief a customer-led approach will pay commercial dividends.”  

Martin agreed it can be hard to justify direct ROI on customer innovations or investments you want to make. Which is why she sees resilience and diplomacy as among the top attributes chief customer officers need to be successful.

It’s also about a good understanding of the commercials. “To be effective, you need to be able to contextualise things in a way that will resonate with the CFO and chief commercial officer. So you need to have a solid understanding of the revenue drivers of your business and be able to link back to the return on investment,” Martin concluded.

“Sometimes saying it’s the right thing for the customer isn’t enough, you need to speak the language of those other functions.”  

Read more of CMO's profiles of chief customer officers

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