CMO50 2020 #7: Martine Jager

  • Name Martine Jager
  • Title Chief digital and marketing officer
  • Company Westpac Group
  • Commenced role 2010
  • Reporting Line Chief executive consumer and chief executive business, Westpac Group
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 650 direct reports and staff
  • Industry Sector Banking, Financial
  • 2018 ranking 2
  • Related

    Brand Post

    “A brand is, what a brand does,” said Martine Jager. As Westpac’s chief digital and marketing officer, Jager knows you can’t have a great brand positioning or strong brand consideration without trust in that brand. “This also translates into commercial outcomes as customers need to believe that the brand is a safe and secure place for their money – trust lies at the very heart of that,” she said.

    “As the voice of the customer in our organisation, I’m always focused on getting to the heart of customer needs and wants, so it was important for me to lead the work on trust and reputation at Westpac and steer it through the business.”
    Jager knows the bank has to demonstrate the meaningful role the brand plays in customers’ lives and this is often beyond what might just be considered as ‘banking’ because money can be such an emotive part of people’s lives. “We can only achieve this by looking at the relationship our customers have with money and by putting them at the beginning of all marketing and business processes – addressing their wants, their needs and their fears,” she said.

    “Rebuilding trust, and it is an ongoing journey, has seen us as an organisation look at things differently – ensuring we always consider how products and experiences should be changed to have better outcomes for customers."

    Marketing effectiveness

    Ongoing scrutiny of the banking industry challenged Westpac to reconsider its relationship with customers. Jager identified the opportunity to put customers at the beginning of marketing and business processes – redefining the role Westpac plays in Australians' lives.

    Jager formed a cross-functional team to cement Westpac's ongoing commitment to providing help to customers when and where it matters most. In response, it overhauled its end-to-end processes, identifying customers' core life moments and initiating change across policies and procedures to ensure they were relevant, an effort that required commitment and change from across the entire organisation.

    “For each campaign, we conducted a business-wide review of its product and customer experience. The results have seen multiple parts of the business working together to make impactful change for our customers, including dedicated 'Westpac Assist' team to help its most vulnerable customers going through a stressful life event,” said Jager.

    Westpac considered how it engaged customers in these moments, with the ambition to ensure they feel an emotional connection with the brand – a significant challenge for a financial services provider, especially in the current environment.

    “This approach inspired the team to be bold and courageous in campaigns. It focused on the power of storytelling by focusing on the moments that matter – 'Loss of a Loved One', July 2018; 'Separation', March 2019; 'Business Bank', June 2019. It’s a strategy that remained true throughout the bushfires and COVID-19,” she said.

    “The marketing-born position has become a pivotal business strategy that clearly defines the bank’s role in people's lives. Since its introduction, it has galvanised agency partners, communications, business development and 40,000 employees around the same purpose.”

    And the results speak for themselves - thanks to the most recent campaign under the ‘Help’ mantle, brand personality shifted against key personas, with strong results across aspects of relibility and help.

    Influencing change

    Within the organisation, Jager is a true advocate for customers with her philosophy centred on putting customers at the heart of every interaction. At the beginning of the pandemic, for instance, Westpac commissioned weekly research to stay close to how customers were thinking and feeling.

    “We saw a real opportunity to help a younger segment of customers who were significantly impacted by COVID. This age group is more likely to have lost their job or taken a pay cut but were becoming more focused on their finances and wanting to save more,” she said. Westpac introduced a high interest savings rate of 3 per cent to help them get the most out of the money they could put away.

    “It was delivered to market quickly and has seen strong uptake – so I know it’s actually having a positive impact for this generation,” she noted.

    Jager has developed her role beyond the traditional expectations of the marketing function to focus on driving meaningful change for customers through initiatives that actively drive trust.

    Research with Australians found five key issues driving the lack of trust in banks: a lack of concern for customer’s interests, lack of fairness, lack of transparency, poor customer experience, and a fear of fraud. “Our response required leadership and change at every level of the organisation, including processes, policies and procedures,” she said.

    The business has also remained focused on the real impact of policy change and product innovations. Jager has advocated to remove incentives from Westpac teller scorecards, developed new products and services, simplified and reduced transaction fees, proactively communicated to customers who did not receive all benefits from ‘packaged accounts’ and announced changes to life insurance, including pricing and underwriting changes.

    The other new initiatives includes centralised complaints teams to set high service standards and quickly and fairly resolve customer issues, developing digital hubs for key moments, including separation, death and small business, to provide free resources for all Australians, and developing a COVID/bushfires response hub allowing customers to source key package information and access support packages digitally.

    Jager also shifted her entire workforce from corporate sites to working from home when the pandemic hit, all while the amount of work being delivered by the team was at an all-time high and crucial to support customers impacted by unfolding events. “I’m proud that we had implemented agile work practices before this happened. This helped the team to transition more readily and continue to focus on delivering for our customers,” she said.

    Data-driven approach

    “Extensive research of our customers revealed just how important ‘real-time’ is to them,” noted Jager. “More than ever, they expect help and support while using Westpac’s app tailored to their behaviour and financial situation,” she said.

    To ensure the brand is staying ahead of customer demand, it had to reconsider the use of data, technology and insights in an entirely new way. This marked a shift away from batch-based data and analytics in favour of streaming customer events in real-time based on their digital and account transaction behaviour. This necessitated working closely with the group technology team to develop an entirely new technology architecture, cloud infrastructure and data sourcing processing capabilities.

    This allows the brand to personalise helpful and insightful conversations with customers to drive greater commercial outcomes. “Data is the new digital as we move towards a more personalised approach to customer marketing,” she said.

    “This has been a key area of focus for me – really unpacking the role of data in our customer experiences, and working closely with my colleagues in group technology to make sure that we have access to the most real time data from all of our channels, and can expose it to the right martech partners to deliver value to our customers and our business."

    “The ambition is to really help the customer in the moment they need us – and sometimes anticipating that moment before they realise there is that need.” Data has also played a role in new agile ways of working, which have been introduced across the CDMO and business partners to streamline customer delivery to further contribute to commercial outcomes – by optimising workforce and agency interaction.

    “This has allowed us to establish multi-disciplinary, cross-functional teams that increase speed to market and enable us to recalibrate our objectives according to customer feedback, with many customer benefits,” she said.
    It’s seen a double-digit increase of digital sales share compared to bank-wide from FY17 to FY19, leveraging co-location and dedicated cross-functional resources with a common objective to reduce time to market by over half, rapidly identifying and solving customer journey pain points through continuous improvement and cross-divisional support to help more customers service their needs digitally.

    Customer-led thinking

    Westpac developed an education content hub containing information and videos to help people, whether they were customers of Westpac or not, navigate a separation, including a Separation Checklist, Asset Calculators and Separation Support Guides. 

    With the events of 2020 impacting all Australians, Westpac created a new hub that covered natural disasters, focusing on fire and flood, and COVID-19. Launching in June, the Recovery Hub provides tools such as a Cost Cutting Checklist and advice around Super Fund considerations. Martine tasked the team with making the content easily accessible, ensuring content aligned to topics that people were naturally searching for via Google.

    In terms of Covid, Jager said the crisis has reinforced how resilient and adaptable humans are. “We continue to evolve, and it is mind-blowing when you take a step back and look at what we’ve accomplished during this incredibly challenging time,” she said. Drawing on Westpac’s commitment to helping Australian in the moments that matter, Martine identified the opportunity to help young people save more of their hard-earned money with the launch of the ‘Spend and Save’ 3% Rate, based on insights uncovered by the marketing team.

    Westpac research has found that the impact of COVID-19 has made the great Australian dream of owning a home even more important for younger generations, with two-thirds of young Australians saying they are now more motivated to save for their first home. The research highlighted the pandemic has made younger Australians sharpen their focus on saving for the future, with nearly half planning to save more than they did before COVID-19 and eight in 10 choosing to either cut back on spending or hold off on large purchases.

    This is despite the findings showing that Australians under 30 are three times more likely to have lost their job and nearly twice as likely to have taken a pay cut or be working fewer hours because of COVID-19 than older age groups.

    “The 3% p.a. savings rate is available to customers who grow their savings each month, designed to help young adults navigate their financial journey. Supported by a multichannel multimedia campaign that was creatively designed to celebrate the unique ways young Australians make money, the marketing-led initiative attracted a new generation of customers to Westpac,” Jager said.

    “We must stay true to what our customers want and need. And what I’ve learnt is that it is important to be discerning – only use the data and insights that truly add value to your understanding of and interaction with your customers,” she said.

    COVID-19 innovation

    Jager believes that in a crisis, brands must lean into their strengths and demonstrate their values more than ever. When the pandemic hit, rather than putting advertising on hold, Westpac considered the role its brands, St George and Westpac, could play to help Australians navigate a difficult time.

    With St.George, this meant going ahead with its plan to run a brand campaign. The campaign, called ‘The Chase’ was developed well before the pandemic and designed to communicate the St.George difference. While the brand considered changing tact, the pandemic made the campaign even more relevant as it brings to life the warm and friendly customer service that St.George is well known for.

    The brand campaign ran, with a revised media plan leveraging the shift in media consumption habits, alongside communications about support packages and digital banking options. As such, the brand had a very authentic message of support during a time of considerable uncertainty and performed well above industry benchmarks.

    In addition to contributing to brand health the campaign also drove an uplift in consideration across all product categories – home loans, savings, transaction accounts, deposits, credit cards and personal loans.

    With Westpac, it recognised its role in the pandemic was to provide tangible help to customers when and where it matters most to them. It wasn't a time to stay silent. Westpac pivoted to provide simple messages of support that promoted services introduced in response to COVID-19 including customer service packages for mortgage deferrals and tutorials on accessing money online for the vulnerable.

    Under Jager’s leadership, the 'Help' platform has become Westpac's north star, so the brand was primed for action when COVID-19 hit to consider how to help Australians through the pandemic. Jager’s investment in communicating and proving the effectiveness of marketing to drive growth ensured budgets were maintained and refreshed to ensure the Help message was felt nation-wide.

    By investing in the development of digital forms to allow customers to easily and conveniently access our support packages, it has been able to help customers with mortgage deferrals, provide  repayment relief packages to customers, provide repayment relief packages for small business customers.

    The insight, and the lessons learned beyond the pandemic, is that because people were working differently and in new environments, Jager noted.

    “They actually became more in tune with what customers were thinking and feeling,” she said. “I think this has given us all a more empathetic view and helped us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. It also reinforces the importance of care – being kinder to ourselves and each other, which is another piece that I hope we all take away from this crisis.”

    Cross-functional collaboration

    Jager is a trusted leader and one who is often looked to for guidance and mentorship from not only her direct colleagues, but the wider business, and within her agency partners. In 2019, she led the formulation of the first agile cross-functional teams across the Westpac Group, resulting in customer-facing initiatives being brought to market faster while driving the company’s goal of service leadership.

    In the initial phases, four cross-functional digital sales optimisation teams were established to drive the group’s ambition of delivering an accelerated growth rate for sales delivered via digital. These teams were upskilled in agile principles, scrum methodology, co-located and empowered to self-organise to drive well-defined outcomes, namely digital sales channel growth and improved speed to market.

    Under her leadership, the teams exceeded all expectations and significantly reduced time to market in deploying enhanced customer experiences from weeks down to days. The Agile model, known as XLR8, has since been rolled out across Customer Engagement (Service), Business and Wealth portfolios, Housing and Brand activation, with today over 35 squads across six villages operating and demonstrating delivery of accelerated growth, customer mindset, team empowerment and employee engagement.

    In FY19, the marketing-led e-Statements agile Service team delivered $10 million in cost savings through promotional marketing campaigns, technology programs and ‘whole of business’ front-line enablement.

    Over 400 of the team, and an additional 200 across business units in the wider organisation, were trained and educated in a world-class simulation called ‘ Game of Loans’. The objective  being to increase commercial acumen in the team and fundamentally understand how a bank operates, in order to influence and understand the needs of our customers.

    “Transforming other areas of the organisation to keep pace is a key part of my role as a leader,” Jager said. “I talk to my colleagues in all parts of the business, probing them on the problems they are trying to solve, and then look to the expertise within my team of data, digital and marketing specialists to the determine how we are going to help solve these,” she said.

    For instance, how it approves creative will have to radically change as it exponentially scales its content to cover increasingly personalised customer experiences. “Building on this, we need to deeply consider the respectful use of data in the creation of these highly personalised interactions with our customers – this is a real area of focus for me and my team,” she said.

    “Within all of this I have the customer front and centre in my mind and approach these problems and challenges from the mindset of a world of possibility – and it is amazing what you can learn when you tackle them together.”

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