Small Steps to Transformational Change in Customer Experience
How to balance a visionary customer communication strategy with economic reality.
Having recently hosted our inaugural conference, Small Steps to Transformational Change in Customer Experience, we have heard first hand how CX transformation in complex regulated markets can be delivered in an agile, cost effective and compliant way.
When organisations decide to add a digital channel to their customer communications service, the conventional wisdom is to conduct a digital transformation project to completely overhaul legacy operations and systems.
There are three problems that usually arise with a large digital transformation project.
- Results are slow. It can sometimes take years of waiting. But now with regulations like Consumer Duty adding pressure to drive better customer outcomes today, CX initiatives cannot wait for a wider project to reach their line of business.
- The focus is solely on digital channels. Any customer experience transformation needs to be a multichannel vision. While digital channels are rightly prioritised for their speed and ease of use, print and telephone calls cannot be forgotten.
- The user experience falls behind expectations. In the length of time it takes to build new experiences, competitors and customers may already have moved on. Adding a digital channel means nothing if it doesn’t meet their standards. Any friction in the journey can drive users to call into the contact centre, or look for other providers.
Being tactical with transformations can deliver results in weeks not months or years, and lead to better operational efficiencies, robust compliance and effective sustainability. And while they can be conducted alongside a major overhaul, they bring the benefits more quickly.
Taking small steps with customer experience, like digitisation, can lead to great transformations and big rewards. This page brings together all of our expertise on tactical digital transformations; how to move towards multichannel customer communications, and how to ensure the user experience is best-in-class – including use cases from clients and partners who have had concrete successes.
We heard cutting-edge client input from experts Don McKinna and Matthew Roberts at Aon and Adam Wemyss at Allianz, showing how their approaches to customer communications influence the customer experience. They spoke about how they identified and responded to an ever-changing economic and regulatory landscape with increasing customer expectations around cost, service, and sustainability.
We were also delighted to hear from guest speakers Nadine Dereza and Gemma Godfrey. Nadine, an award-winning journalist and broadcaster who has presented for many networks including CNBC, the BBC, CNN and Sky TV. Gemma, the Chair and a Non-Executive Director for several listed and private companies.
They were able to provide a fascinating broader perspective on present and future challenges and opportunities.
For a detailed view of the industry going forward, we heard from CCM and CXM experts Kaspar Roos and Amanda Beesley from Aspire CCS.
Small Steps in Action
We were proud and delighted to have hosted a successful event in 2023 which demonstrated the breadth of know-how and the operational excellence that exists in today’s challenging market. Why a live event? Because there’s little more compelling than real-life testimony from peers and commentators who are driving change and making a difference.
Discussing customer experience transformation through multichannel customer communications, we called it Small Steps to Transformational Change in Customer Experience. The day brought together Adare SEC clients and partners as well as practitioners of customer experience transformation.
It was a packed day of speaker sessions, Q&As and rounded off with a panel discussion from industry experts and practitioners, all bringing unique angles on and approaches to customer experience and digital transformation.
Gemma Godfrey: Lessons from building businesses to transform the customer experience
The keynote speech, given by Gemma Godfrey, told the story of how she was able to build her business, Moola, by gathering as much data on customer needs as possible, listening to user feedback and ultimately creating a customer-centric service in an industry that had lost trust after the financial crisis. With a bank of educational videos, articles and printed leaflets about investing that used simple language (following the mantra of "keep it simple stupid") her company found that 1 in 10 people who engaged with the content went on to invest with Moola.
Gemma’s company put customer needs first, which is why she appreciates Consumer Duty and sees it as another push for companies to gather sufficient data, evidence and carry out customer testing. Now, each stage of the customer journey is to be considered, and each message relayed at an appropriate reading age.
In her words: It’s not about what is said but how it’s understood.
Aon: Staying ahead of regulatory shift
Matt Roberts at Aon showed how they were able to react to GMP Equalisation, a change in the law which triggered a huge communications project. Now there was a requirement to inform all pension holders who had paid in during the early-mid 90s of a recalculation of the value of their pensions. For many members, Aon only had postal addresses on file, the challenge was in getting them to contact Aon to verify their identity, and how to engage them with new channels without coming across as a scam.
The solution they built, with Adare SEC as partners, was a digital portal, as well as multi-channel options, giving members more confidence in the communications’ legitimacy through professional design and an introduction via posted letters.
The result was 6,500 letters sent, 93% engagement, 71% of which was in the digital portal, while the customer journey time was cut down to an average of 17 days from the expected several months.
Looking ahead: Building profitable customer relationships in a rapidly changing world
We were delighted to hear from analyst Kaspar Roos, CEO and Founder of Aspire CCS, about the varying degrees of digital maturity across different sectors and regions. With much of the focus on new business acquisition and customer retention, other back-office functions such as billing are often left behind. It was interesting to hear his examples about how well-known brands continue to struggle in driving consistency across all customer touch points and what they are doing to address this.
And in a nod to the setting, the famous Stationers’ Hall, the blend of digital and printed communication became a key talking point, as well as a critical business challenge facing organisations that rely on transactional communications to stay ahead of the competition.
Allianz in conversation with Adare SEC: Complexity tamed for customer gain
The insurance sector has been characterised by a number of mergers and acquisitions over the past few years, and those responsible for regulated and critical customer communications have had an increasingly challenging job to orchestrate these operations in an ever changing landscape where customer expectations (and regulation), mandate the move towards a multi-channel future. Legacy platforms have driven legacy operating models, and the move towards digitisation has not been without its obstacles. Increased competition, driven by both established organisations and new market entrants, has placed pressures on document management and CX teams, as well as their supply chains, to stay ahead of the game.
Hearing from Adam Wemyss about how Allianz and Adare SEC had worked in partnership over a number of years really brought to life how digital transformation extends beyond a single project or initiative and is becoming more of a way of life. The audience were pleased to hear real life experiences about how technology was being deployed to make critical insurance processes (such as renewals and claims), more impactful and more cost effective. The session was ably supported by Ian Allan, providing the often unheard view of the delivery partner. And without breaking any confidences, retaining an open and trusted dialogue throughout the journey, has allowed Adare SEC to adeptly, perhaps even subtly at first, add digital communication offerings alongside the more traditional print and mail services of the past.
Small steps to transformational change in customer experience: Panel discussion
To wrap up the day, Nadine Dereza hosted a panel discussion with Amanda Beesley, Adam Wemyss, Don McKinna and Andrew Herd.
A healthy discussion linked key themes from throughout the day, with the continuous thread of taking small steps to achieve big goals heard time and again. Different challenges affect different sectors, and even within organisations so taming the beast of transformation is not for the faint hearted. In the pensions sector, for instance, communicating with historic customers, with potentially out-of-date addresses and no pre-existing digital connection whatsoever requires a traditional print based approach at first.
Digital transformation in this case is different to a new entrant who is dealing with a digital first, and in some cases, digital only strategy. Hearing of the nuances of digital transformation in pensions, insurance and banking shattered the myth that digital transformation has a single definition. We are not comparing apples with apples. These different starting points, with different objectives, lead to a myriad of possible solutions. Knitting these together with often complex organisational structures where culture, budget and technical capability all present hurdles, meant that the topics being discussed were really only being aired for the first time.
The organisers and audience were hugely grateful to the panellists for giving up their time, and hopefully left enriched with new ideas, and motivation to take forward new ideas into next year.
As a quick snapshot of what was discussed (you really had to be there to hear it all!), questions from posed included:
- What does ‘digital’ mean to your organisation and customers?
- What challenges has your organisation faced in respect to digital capability, and how have you dealt with this?
- Has the development of digital services required a change to how you operate as a business?
- What internal resistance have you met during digital transformation?
- Is security a greater concern when you embark on a digital transformation?
- How do you see digital evolving for your business?
Live Demos: Digital CX Solutions
At moments during the day, attendees could see live demos of some of the solutions which helped Aon and Allianz transform their customer experience.
Greg Peach, Product Design Manager, presented the capabilities of the Digital Experience team, which helps co-design and quickly implement enhanced digital customer experiences such as e-forms, intelligent documents and fully orchestrated customer journeys.
Client Solutions Manager Dave Dunlop and Product Manager Jenna Hussey ran through one of our Self-Serve tools, SmartAccess, a secure, online portal, that allows employees to access, sort and distribute inbound mail and communications from anywhere.
Senior Product Manager Steve Hurworth presented our multi-channel hybrid mail tool which enables users to send out mission-critical, day-to-day communications by post, SMS or email. This cloud-based solution is secure, scalable and customisable, driving cost-savings of up to 40% whilst enhancing compliance and increasing agility.
Behind the Scenes
As well as hearing from speakers and panellists, there was a dose of multichannel audience participation using a live polling app which displayed reactions on the big screen, as well as in-person Q&A.
We were delighted to be able to host the day in such a historic venue in the centre of the City of London, and a fitting place for a print and digital customer communications industry event.
As Stationers' Hall have so wisely put it, “600 years ago most craftsmen in London were itinerant. However, the manuscript writers and illuminators decided to concentrate their efforts and set up stalls or ‘stations’ around St Paul’s Cathedral. When printing came to England in the late 15th century, the Stationers had the good sense to embrace it and have continued to adapt to the many changes in the Communications and Content industries ever since. The technology may have changed from pen and inks to print and online links but the name has always remained the same”
For a complete run down of the day, please download the event guide below.
If you enjoyed learning about the day, why not take a look at some of our more in-depth insights and articles on the key issues facing Communication and CX teams today:
How to save more, stay compliant and remain sustainable while digitising your customer experience