Facebook on a quest to revolutionize financial services marketing

With 12 million users in Australia, Facebook has developed into a core marketing platform to help organisations achieve their business objectives.

The organisation has been through a bit of a transformation of late, with the initial focus being the social networking customer experience – adding features to revolutionise the way we communicate and share with each other. Now though, the spotlight is well and truly on the business world, to leverage the wealth of information Facebook holds to drive efficiency and experience for financial services.

Here in Australia, Paul McCroy joined the Facebook team 12 months ago and his role as Head of Travel and Finance tasked him with the objective to build a team that can work closely with financial services to use Facebook. Paul explains: “It started with the team we created. We’ve hired a group of people to really understand the problems industry is faced with; we have people who worked in finance now working for us. It’s a constant focus to understand the problems faced by industry and build our Facebook platform to solve those problems. From there we want to work closely with financial services here in Australia to help them use Facebook in the best way possible.”

Whilst some of the big four were initially sceptical about the potential threat of Facebook in the financial services arena, the social networking giant has insisted they want to grow new users and enhance experience, rather than create banking services of its own.

Mobile

There’s a huge focus on mobile and it’s clear to see why. Digital advertising overtook traditional advertising for the first time last year, drive mainly by the onset of mobile. With 10 million active daily users and 85 per cent accessing via mobile devices – it’s easy to see where the potential lies for many a marketing team. Paul explains:

“Digital has overtaken television and mobile is the new upstart. Facebook became a mobile first business two years ago, transforming from desktop. Here in Australia, there’s a higher mobile percentage than any other developed country. Facebook represents an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that more people are consuming media on mobile phones.”

It’s this drive to mobile that’s seen a surge in app development over recent years, with the finance industry among the top performers for app engagement, providing customers with ease of access like never before. But with many banks allocating huge resources to develop their own assets, is there really any need to tap into the Facebook pool? Paul explained where the potential lies:

“One of the immediate benefits is the opportunity to capitalise on the trend. Mobile Banking was developed to service the customers where they are. It is also the most cost efficient way to service customers and has been quoted by Mckinsey as 1/8 the cost of servicing via the call centre.

“One in every five minutes on a mobile phone is spent on Facebook properties. When you want to speak to people who are on a phone, Facebook is where you should go. Our biggest growth area is banks taking their apps to our platform and promoting their advert in front of their customers. Customers then go and install that app unit. In terms of results, we’re the most cost effective for getting apps installed – 30 to 40 per cent of app installs come from Facebook.”

“Phase two is where the banks have people with the app installed, but they’re not necessarily engaged. We have developed a tool that helps with app engagement. Essentially, once it’s installed, you continuously re-engage them so that they use it as a utility. By them frequently engaging on the app, it takes the pressure off the contact centre and service channels, so the overall experience has been a success.”

Easing data concerns

There are some real alarm bells that often get triggered thanks to some serious spotlight on large data companies like Facebook and Google. Naturally an integrated banking service would lead to some data concerns, an area Paul insists is at the core of that they do:

“We don’t give anybody data. We have 12 million Australian users who do a lot of things on our platform. What we do is provide a targeting interface to enable advertisements to people that fit their interest behaviour. That data is never given back to an advertiser, it stays with us. Our primary goal is privacy. We’re one of the largest data companies the world has and will ever see. Everything we do is about keeping our site secure. It works well with banks, as it’s exactly the same as what they do. Whilst some people see data as a problem, we see it as a really nice fit.”

 Driving experience and efficiency

The team at Facebook are already seeing results creating unique experiences by targeting the right people, with the right content, on the right platform.

“When it’s done well, the conversions are huge. There are key challenges facing industry right now – efficiency, scalability and profitability.

We know certain media channels are becoming more expensive, every company in the world wants to achieve their goals in a more efficient manner. Where in the world is there more scale and engagement than Facebook? Our users are very engaged and it’s a huge opportunity to reach your customers and prospects at scale.”

Paul will be speaking at Digital Financial Services 2014: “I want to impart some of that knowledge to the audience and provide real life examples. A big thing we want to bring is what we see trending and how we can work with you to capitalise on some of those trends. We’ll also take a look at what we’re developing in the future.”

Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or follow @digifinance for more information on the event.

View the full interview with Paul here: http://youtu.be/t196-WP4_8U

Old Aussie buildings… Don’t write them off just yet

The spotlight is well and truly on retro & refurb as Australia is poised to reduce energy emissions, operational costs and get smarter with space. But why is it so important now? How can technology help? Where do we keep making mistakes? And what can be done to make sure our older buildings stand out? We sought the expert’s insight from Caimin McCabe, Director, Cundall Australia ahead of his presentation at Retrfit & Refurb 2014

What would you say are the key drivers prompting property owners and investors to start thinking about retrofitting their own buildings?

There are a few key areas here:

  • In the building owner’s mind is asset repositioning or increasing asset value. They want to create a better asset and establish a point of difference from the competition.
  • The asset valuation might be done as a direct result of current operational costs to try and reduce the running costs of those buildings.
  • Retention is an increasing driver for retrofitting. Particularly in Grade B, C and D buildings where there’s a lot more competition for tenants. When their leases come up for renewal, they start to reflect upon whether they want to stay or if they’ll get a better deal elsewhere.
  • Flexibility is another area we’re seeing as a driver. There are increasing numbers of smaller entities who want smaller space in good locations, leading to a need to accommodate multiple (small) tenancies on each floor – particularly within Grade B, C & D buildings.
  • In the back of people’s mind whilst doing this are issues like NABERS Energy performance to see if it can be improved.

How are technologies and new approaches being used to improve environmental and operational performance of existing buildings?

I’d say the best bang for buck is actually looking at control upgrades and getting the building management system to actually do what it should be doing. Look at sub-metering to actually monitor where energy is being used; target reduction rather than assumptions.

The market is obviously seeing a lot of new technologies emerge, as well as enhancements to existing buildings including classic co-generation and tri-generation. In reality though, existing buildings can often find this difficult to accommodate as they don’t tend to have plant rooms available…

What’s quite important to us is it’s not just doing it for the environmental sake; the economics of decision making is equally important. Greater equipment efficiency and operation need to be considered..

Engaging the ‘right’ technical advisor or engineer to work alongside building or facility management in terms of the operational tuning is also key. The trick is to ensure this happens on an on-going basis in lieu of a one-off assessment.

We’re also seeing consultants and facility managers use big data analytics software to assess controls and trend log profiles in real-time to identify ‘rogue’ systems and control issues.

We’ve also found (and this is probably part of the whole-of-life approach) that there’s a tendency to ignore the façade. We’ve had some really good success on buildings where we’ve taken a step back and looked at the building as a whole and said: ‘Rather than just going in there and doing the engineering, we’ll check the whole façade.

We recently took this approach in a project that was focused on the chiller, in which we made many changes to the façade. This resulted in no need for a replacement chiller.

We re-commissioned and put in some new technology components, like diffusers to improve the air quality – we moved the pot of money around. In the end we got the building from its one star NABERS to a four star NABERS. We also significantly improved the indoor environmental quality of the building, so now the building is actually liked, not hated.

You might have an efficient building, but if you don’t want to work there, it doesn’t really matter.

Property owners of B, C and D grade buildings are under pressure to evaluate cost benefits. What are the key areas that need to be addressed during business case development to ensure ROI?

The interesting thing is, embarrassingly to some of the newer buildings, some of the older buildings actually have better performance. Just because they’re old doesn’t mean they’re bad. There is a trend in industry generally that new is good and actually sometimes old is better.

A lot of the old buildings are designed more with passive design in mind. The level of glazing, for example, in an existing building is generally a lot lower than on a new building. Our own office here has only 25 per cent glass, but we’ve got more daylight in our office than we would have if we were actually in a new building. This is because of how it’s introduced and how it’s used. The are a lot of advantages to those buildings which are not traditionally marketed or sold, which is why I talk about the whole building approach. It’s stepping back and asking: ‘What are the attributes? What are the benefits? How do I enhance them and connect the tenant to those benefits relative to other buildings?’

It’s important to realise there’s no silver bullet – if somebody’s trying to tell you that there is, don’t believe them. Every building is unique – there isn’t one size fits all. You have to judge each building on its own in terms of what’s there, but the approach needs to reflect the energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and the attributes that the building actually has.

Depending on the asset location and target market, the argument isn’t about ROI, but more towards differentiation from competing Grade B, C & D buildings.

Building owners are typically looking only at rent; they’re not considering the quality of the environment they’re in. That’s where I suppose our role is, along with other colleagues, to try and highlight what the building could be for them.

The real risk is what happens if the landlord decides on doing nothing. The danger for the landlord is that they are then left with looking at costly incentives for tenant’s attraction or attention. They’ve potentially got higher vacancy and operating costs weighing down the asset value. They could even be breaching bank covenants as they’re not actually getting the returns. In our mind, doing nothing for an asset owner of a B, C or D grade building in the marketplace is not really an option any more – they just need to sit back and determine how they want to do this and how to reposition the asset.

A major retrofitting and refurbishment project will encounter many challenges across the design and delivery phases. From your experience, what would you say are the main barriers that prevent people from achieving their aspirations on a re-lifting project?

A few areas here also:

  • Existing site or services infrastructure might not be sufficient to achieve required outcomes – there could be limitations inherent within the building.
  • Working around existing tenants can also be problematic and might limit the extent or timing of works that can be done to retain a ‘live’ building.
  • Availability of financing will always be an issue. There’s also a lack of understanding on the alternative funding mechanisms, such as an Environmental Upgrades Agreement (EUA).
  • The return on investment could also be perceived to be too low to actually do the work. In terms of guaranteeing better rents, it’s impossible to do that. We find there’s a tendency to jump in legs first without spending enough time doing the upfront assessment and design stated. When you start to do the actual work, you expose issues you weren’t aware of because the due diligence wasn’t done at the beginning. This in turn might result in costly mistakes (affecting overall budget) and subsequent cut backs or reduction in scope as part of a value engineering response.

The interview that gave me more than I bargained for…

Patrizia Iacono, Executive Assistant to the Group CIO Insurance Australia Group is quite honestly one of the most interesting people I’ve spoken to.

As with most interviews, I was speaking  to Patrizia due to her participation in an event of ours. In this case it was the EAPA Summit 2014.

I thought the interview was going to lead down a path specifically for some top tips that EAs and PAs could have to help them progress in their career. This group of professionals is a personal favorite of mine, and I always try to get some top resources to share with them.

However, i had completely underestimated how much i’d personally be able to take away from our conversation – Looking forward to meeting in July, but for now, over to Patrizia for the insights.

Hope you enjoy as much as i did…

I have been an Executive Assistant for over 20 years now, I started at the top, which is a really unusual place to start, I started supporting the chairman of a global advertising agency with my first job and I was very fortunate that I landed that role. It was a role that I really didn’t want because I was going to be an advertising executive, and I was working at the time on the Myer Children’s Wear account as an account executive. Believe it or not, it all fell apart one Friday afternoon when my boss called me in to his office to say that effective on the Monday morning I’d be working for our chairman, and it really was from day one where I fell in love with the role and really enjoyed the role very, very much.

It steamrolled from there with a move to Sydney, working for the CEO at the time, Dr Richard Walsh, and from there I went on to work at Lion Nathan, working for their chairman, back into adverting. From advertising I landed what you would call the job of a lifetime where I was working for an American IT management consultancy and my role was traveling the globe alongside our CEO with just a laptop and a mobile phone. For its time it was really a rare occurrence in this country for any executive assistant to land such a role, whereas in today’s climate it is becoming more common.

Things changed from there and I fell pregnant after 15 years that I’d been married, I took a step sideways and decided to work part time for a few years until my daughter was old enough to join school, and I picked up my career from there and here I am now. Really loving the role and loving being a great executive assistant, for me now it’s about sharing the knowledge I’ve acquired over those years and hopefully inspiring others through my mentoring. I have relationships with over 40 executive assistants as their mentor and it’s something I truly am passionate about.

Alex – We still have a lot of issues around people struggling with personality clashes; obviously you’ve worked for many different types of bosses and colleagues. What’s your advice on how to cope with those demanding personalities?

Patrizia –  I’ve had my fair share of demanding executives, even some that I now refer to as my Miranda, from the movie The Devil Wears Prada. The key to handling these demanding personalities is that I’ve always managed to adapt to the personality of the executive that I support. Some of those skills that I use are understanding their needs, their tasks and executing it as quickly as possible. You will know when an executive wants a task completed yesterday rather than today, it’s all about acting with speed and efficiency, and in turn that is what builds that trust which is crucial in the relationship of the EA and their executive.

The other skill I would add here is foresight, that ability to plan what could go wrong before it does go wrong, you have a demanding executive who has meetings back to back all day, what I would be doing is starting from the night before checking all the meetings for the following days, are the attendees confirmed, are the bookings in there, have technology been confirmed, PC facilities, etc. It’s ensuring the executive has their pre-reading material in hand as well.

If there’s travel involved, it’s having that foresight to say, right, reconfirm the car service ahead of time, ask them to pick up your boss ten minutes before because that person’s a picnicker or stresser, it’s all about you really having that foresight to go in there and nab all the things that could go wrong before they do go wrong.

I always think of it as when an executive becomes irate I never take it personally, I never have taken it personally, but I take it professionally, for me it’s, why is he irate and what can I do to actually calm this situation, to me the biggest tip is always stay cool, calm and collected.

Alex – A lot of people that come to our EA and PA summit are at the start of their career, but not sure about where they can go or where they want to go from here on in. What sort of plan you think people should be putting in place to make sure career development is constantly a vision and a clear goal for them?

Patrizia – For me, that stage really begins at the research stage before you join an organisation; what I’ve done in every role that I’ve ever been in and the organisations I’ve joined is that I’ve actually researched and evaluated the organisation before even going in for an interview with the executive or with the HR team of that organisation. For me it helps to ascertain if that organisation is investing in their employee’s career development plans, and some of the questions that I always would ask and do ask are, what training programmes are offered for EAs, does the organisation have an EA community, is there a mentor programme in place?

Once you’ve joined that organisation, that is the right fit for you, what I’ve done is sit down with the executive and work out a clear set of objectives and career plan. For example, my personal career plan is mapped out as a strategy document, what I’ve got is a plan of action to achieve a set of goals, I’ve identified what I want to accomplish, in six months, in a year, and three years, that’s how I keep on track with my personal career development and achievable goals, I really think that’s the forward plan that most EAs should be really thinking about when they do join an organisation.

Alex – Personal brand is something that comes up frequently. What tips would you give to develop personal brand and perception?

Patrizia – Personal brand is really, really important to me. Your personal brand is your professional reputation, it’s the impression we all leave or the image we want to portray that we will be remembered for. It’s a choice we make on how we’re going to leverage ourselves in the workplace, it’s also a great opportunity to showcase the knowledge which is important to the success and the career progression of any EA.

Some of the tips that I’d like to share are those that I’ve built up over the last 20 years, really think about how people see you through the way you communicate, are you empathetic and approachable; the way you play ball in the organisation; are you seen as a team player or a silo player; are you a problem solver with a real can-do attitude. Are you sharing the knowledge and inspiring others; and do you treat others the way you want to be treated? As an EA we are the brand of the executive we support and certainly the organisation, both internally and externally.

Alex – With the variety of tasks that need to be juggled, have you got any ideas in terms of organisational excellence, where do you think we can really start to improve that time management?

Patrizia – We face many challenges in the organisation, on a daily basis. To achieve that organisational excellence we need to remember that we’re no longer viewed as the support staff but more as that integral business partner. We’re finally matching the skills of the people that we support. We’re also serving as innovation catalyst, we manage and simplify those processes, time can be a huge benefit to the executive. We need to have the business acumen to understand the strategy and plan to deliver that vision through our own analytic thoroughness, innovation and cultural awareness through time management. By managing the executive’s day to day business, you’re giving them time back so they spend more time focusing on strategy and certainly productivity.

Time management for me never has been an issue, it’s learning to prioritise, pretty much by the time I get to work in the mornings I know exactly what’s going on, it’s how we manage that time effectively to give them time back.

If you run out of time and it’s just not working, always ask for help, always reach out to your peers, to anyone to say, can you give me hand, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

Alex – Has the job been how you expected it to be?

Patrizia – The role of the executive assistant means being much, much more than just that standard job description that you’re given at a job interview or that you may read on a recruitment website. For me it’s not just the hard skills, okay, sure, we do need those hard skills, but what’s really important especially now is the ability to actually bring a lot more soft skills to the role.

Business is now becoming a lot more agile than it ever has been, and especially with organisations having to respond rapidly to changes in internal and external environments without losing that vision, we’re actually required to start using a lot more of the soft skills; the multitasking, organisation, adaptability, flexibility and initiative. We really are creating and evolving our own unique job description day by day in the organisation we work in.

Alex – I was interested if you had any stories to tell, have you ever been tasked with something quite strange or something you weren’t expecting to do?

Patrizia – Definitely. I had a Miranda moment, that’s how I love to refer to them. Some years ago I was working for an executive who was invited to attend the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, I got him off to the airport, got him on the plane, when he landed in Los Angeles and got to his hotel room he’d realised he’d left his favourite cufflinks in Sydney, and he wasn’t going to go to the Academy Awards without these particular cufflinks, it’s crazy, I know.

So I got this panicked call at 5 am saying, well, I won’t say asking, he was actually telling me that he needed these cufflinks and that he wanted me to personally fly them over. I was out of bed, within a couple of hours, I’d booked a car to drive me to his apartment, find the cufflinks, drive to the airport, book a flight, fly to Los Angeles, cab it to the Beverly Wilshire, cab straight back to the airport and fly home to Sydney, if that’s not weird, I’m not sure what is. But he was a very, very happy executive and went off to the Academy Awards with his favourite cufflinks, that’s one of my, probably one of the strangest, I’d say, but one of many, many stories that I love to share.

It was, it was all done in a day, literally in a day, I think the flight landed that morning and I was back on a flight that evening, yes, it was crazy.

5 questions that will make or break Australian Healthcare

I’ve been working in the Australian healthcare industry for a few years now, and in all honesty, it’s slow progress. When it comes to tackling the critical long term challenges to fix some major holes in the healthcare system, it starts from the ground up.

During Australian Healthcare Week 2014, we thought it was time to get some of the Australian healthcare leaders in a room to discuss some of the key burning questions on everyone’s lips.

Several clear areas stood out, so here they are – the five questions that everyone in healthcare should be thinking about to revolutionise our system and drive real positive change.

So who was involved?

  • Leonie Hobbs, Senior Consultant, Carramar Consulting
  • Kathy Campbell, ICT Manager, VCCC
  • Rob Clarke, WSP Independent
  • David Johnston , eHealth Consultant,
  • Claire GrooMbridge, Facility Planner, Hunter New England Local Health District
  • Sandra Roggeveen, CEO, Dzhon
  • Stanton Kroenert, Manager, Woods Bagot
  • Damien Crough, Business Development Manager, Hickory Group
  • Ian Mitchell, Principal, Conrad Gargett Riddel
  • Don Garner, Group Leader – Health, Sinclair Knight Merz
  • John Goodchap, National Manager – Health, Hansen Yuncken
  • Steve Trevenar, Head of Business & Strategy Healthcare & Scientific Research, Lend Lease
  • Debra Barbas, Clinical Services Manager, St John of God Murdoch Hospital
  • Rohan Wilson, Architectural Director, DesignInc
  • Mark Halpin, Director – Infrastructure Management, The Townsville Hospital

Where should the money be going?

  • It doesn’t grow on trees

The Australian dollar is limited; nationally we spend $130 billion dollars a year on healthcare, which is 10 per cent of GDP. With substantial cuts announced in the Budget, it’s clear the pot isn’t getting any bigger. So where should we be spending the money? And perhaps more importantly – where are we going to get it from?

One of the biggest challenges is making sure the funds go where they will have the most benefit; it’s not necessarily the specialist treatments and big exciting stuff. There are two sides to this coin. Firstly, who should get treatment and who shouldn’t; secondly, we need to stop focusing on sickness and focus on health.

The table discussion centred primarily on the last 10 per cent of people’s lives and those that lead an unhealthy lifestyle, leaving the two intrinsically linked.

We’re currently spending 90 per cent of funding on that last 10 per cent. We’re also focusing on funding facilities, with not enough action being taken to manage demand.

The simple truth is, the growth rate is unsustainable and people’s lifestyle choices are smashing acute health services.

Some major reform is needed to incentivise people to stay healthy. Our current spend needs to be shifted; all agree that it’s currently imbalanced. Chronic Disease management was also thrown into the mix as a better way to spend money, with more of a focus on long term quality life.

Whether this starts with taxes on unhealthy foods, in a similar manner to cigarettes and alcohol, or wider initiatives around the planning and development stages of community – building in the opportunity for healthy lifestyles.

  • Shifting public perception

The general consensus is that people have the wrong perception of healthcare.

We all enjoy and expect good quality healthcare in Australia, but as we know, it’s not sustainable.

Although the national reform agenda is seeing small amounts of change, it’s nowhere near where we need to be.

One of the potential solutions comes in the form of private health and private insurance. More competition in the area enables it to be available at a reasonable cost. Previously seen as a luxury for the wealthy, few have a realistic concept of the cost.

  • Getting money into the system

As announced in the Budget, the Federal Government could potentially widen the gap to accessible healthcare with confirmation that patients will be charged with a GP tax.

The Government confirmed in its Budget announcement that the much speculated and controversial general practice co-payment model will be implemented.

From July 1, 2015, visits to the doctor will cost everybody $7 with the introduction of a Medicare co-payment. The co-payment will be waived for children and those on concessions only after 10 visits a year. The co-payment will raise $3.4 billion in the first four years, while upfront payments and a tightening of eligibility for the prescription drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will raise another $1.3 billion.

It’s the continuation of a long debate around co-payment.

Another $1.6 billion will be cut from health by freezing indexation of income thresholds, which determine eligibility for the private health insurance rebate, the Medicare Levy surcharge and other Medicare services.

There are a few problems hindering injections of cash into the health system; inefficiencies from whole-of-regime litigation, excessive tests, limited working hours and supply and demand from private insurers.

The group explored one of the key areas – working hours.

Many facilities are still limited by the 8-5 pool, leaving people with no choice other than to go to hospital. Can we have 24-hour general practices, reducing the demand on hospitals in the same way many health insurers do?

If the health facility functioned on a 7-day-a-week approach with staffing and services, would we be able to provide better care and reap back costs that outweigh operational running fees?

The day public facilities expand the operating hours is the day we can stop building new operating theatres. There’s a trend for more 24/7 facilities – let’s fund the infrastructure but then use it efficiently. A private facility in Brisbane ran its MRI 24/7 – ends up being cheaper to come after-hours.

Public health is getting better with new targets, but it’s some of these efficiency-driving measures that could make the real difference…a little more on that later.

Want to know the other 4? Read the full report here: 5 questions that will make or break Australian Healthcare

5Q

Employee engagement: One simple idea… One mighty impact.

Customer Experience is a term that’s become very familiar to me recently. Pretty much all of the events I work across have a customer element to them, so I was interested to see what Customer Experience Management 2014 was going to offer up.

We’re part way through day one, and it’s pretty exciting down here. When I first got down here, I was expecting to hear a whole heap of the usual buzzwords; centricity, digital, journey and so on.

There’s always been one element of CX which stood out as a challenge, and that’s change. With the world we’re in now, it’s inevitable. As one of our speakers said earlier: ‘It’s not about what we did last year anymore, it’s not even last month – change is a daily constant’. For that reason, the spotlight is well and truly on employee engagement. After all, they are the ones driving change within any business.

Without making any sweeping statements, and probably unfair ones, there’s a lot of ‘same-same’ CX talk around the web these days. But today I was stopped in my same-same thinking tracks by a simple idea that lit up the entire room.

And it’s called A Personal Board.

So what is it? Quite simply, the notion that every single employee, upon recruitment, builds their own personal board of directors across the business. It’s an idea that comes from eBay, where every member of staff is tasked with the challenge of looking across the business – all levels and in all countries – to find a role they’d be interested in knowing about. They then pick up the phone and ask the person to be involved in their informal board. This helps with a few things:

  • Keeps employees engaged
  • Breaks down silos within the organisation
  • Drives innovation
  • Builds a network
  • Encourages communication
  • Helps drive change

So what does it take?

The smart thing that eBay has done is demonstrate the importance of the project to every single employee. People have a job to teach, but there’s no reason why you can’t start to do the same. It’s an informal process and only takes one person to drive it. Begin with your new starters and watch it spread.

I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of checking in with a few people across the business worldwide to get their thoughts or hear about their priorities.

P.S – if you haven’t been down to CEM 2014…. you should. They have mini-golf and everything.

Low cost marketing innovation – 4 essentials to success

It’s tough to be a marketer. It’s hard to allocate cash for innovation, but at the same time rapid consumer behaviour changes and increased competition make it a bit tricky to stand out.

All is not lost. We can once again get our creative juices flowing without breaking the bank (sorry…). I recently took a look at the world of Financial Services and it’s safe to say a few obstacles need to be overcome; the allure of the non-banks and a heck of a lot of expectation from the customer.

With that in mind I recently caught up with Simon Clarke, Head of Online Banking Suncorp.

Simon and the team have a clear focus: “We’re delivering our new core banking capability. It is a major strategic initiative for us and will enable a new generation of customer experience through our simpler and more agile platform.”

“At more of a group level, we are constantly looking at ways we can improve the customer experience across our key areas of banking, life and insurance. We want to ensure that customers have a consistent experience no matter what product they have and touch point they engage us from.”

The team have a smaller budget than the major banks, encouraging (sometimes forcing) Suncorp to think outside the box to build and optimise customer experience. This approach can often far outweigh consultation and reading through insight all day.

So how exactly are they doing this? Here’s Simon’s recipe to success:

Sweat the small stuff

“Post GFC, innovation has been always associated with research and development. But in more recent times, people and customers have come to realise that innovation isn’t always about the newest technology or gadget. It’s often just tapping away to remove a step or part of a process.

“We often find in banking that we build, design, rebuild and redesign technologies very quickly due to tech improvements and resilience. But we often neglect to review the process which the technology facilitates. That often leads to a slick looking application underpinned by a very long, frustrating seven-step process to do something that should only take two.

“We have a goal in which we constantly go through customer journey maps and ask: ‘Does that need to be there? Is it just because it’s always been there?’ As we optimise our websites, online banking platforms and mobile channels, we have the opportunity to challenge and improve the process. We also blend with user experience design so every word, click or tap culminates in a simple, easy to use engagement.”

What to do today: Innovate incrementally. Start with a small pain point with your product, system or process. Pull it apart and put it back together 2% at a time. Overtime, these 2% add to 20% very quickly and culminates in achieving high customer satisfaction at low cost and risk.

Mix it up

“We often find it amusing the costs that come out of delivering innovative technology or simply keeping up with customer demand. All of our banking platforms are designed and built in-house.

“This allows for very tight ‘product teams’ to form with a mix of business and IT people to take a challenge, sketch it, design it, user-test it, build it, secure it and get it out the door within a few days. We have feedback forms that are monitored and answered by product owners so every idea, complaint or comment goes straight to the person who can make a decision and execute on that idea or fix that problem.”

What to do today: Speak constantly to your team to understand roadblocks and attack them one by one to form a lean, effective team. Take the time to also listen to your customers. They should influence and be a part of your strategy and execution, not just an end user.

Look past the fancy reports

“From a design and UX perspective, again we use the same tools that a small business might to perform UI online tests, surveys and lab tests using basic video conference equipment.

“Some of these tools can cost $150 to run and the feedback and insight we get is amazing compared to a $10,000 report. We love using these ‘guerrilla tactics’. From an execution side, it allows us to try a lot of new things and if some don’t hit the mark, there isn’t a swollen budget sitting at the other end.”

What to do today: If you need insight, there’s plenty of it out there for free. Form an idea, build it out with creative and knowledgably colleagues and put it to the test. Learn fast and do it cheap. If the idea doesn’t hit the mark, gather your learnings and put it towards your next opportunity.

Persist

“Having a ‘fail fast and learn’ culture can be difficult to achieve and persist. But with the right attitude, enthusiasm and decision-making capability, we can strive to build the easiest-to-use websites and online banking platforms and see the effects through direct feedback.

“I think the biggest challenge is building the right culture and acknowledging that innovation doesn’t need to be cutting edge development. Simple touches each day accumulate to building an innovative model that customers can appreciate each time they engage us.”

What to do today: Build a safe working environment that allows your staff to thrive in generating and testing ideas. Isolate risk adversity so that it is managed but not impacting your ability to innovate and drive user experience.

Join Simon at Digital Financial Services 2014, he’ll be delivering the Case Study ‘Banking Channels at Speed through Lean Innovation’.  Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or tweet @digifinance

Do NSW have the contact centre of the future?

Over 1,231,000 online visits since launch.

More than 356,000 calls to contact centres.

731,000 customers served.

All in less than a year since launch…

Service NSW is definitely taking off. The question is; how do you cope with this exponential increase in demand whilst keeping customers ‘delighted’? Well, with a 99 per cent contact centre customer satisfaction rate – we might just have the answer.

The organisation is pretty unique, launching in July 2013 and integrating three service delivery channels – a dedicated web portal, customer contact call centres, and shop-front services. This integration delivers the benefits of internet, cloud, mobile communications and customer relationship management platforms.

I recently caught up with Jody Grima, Director, Contact Centres, Service NSW to get the insight. She explains:

“We’re growing, and our numbers are rapidly increasing. After almost 12 months’ implementation, we’re still delighting customers, which is something that’s always a risk when you’ve got a new service. Does our culture pertain? Well it is, and that’s something that’s really exciting for us.”

Employee engagement

“Our vision is to be a leader in the delivery of customer service not only within government, but also within industry. A leader in customer experience and a leader in the provision of service. That ties in with our employee engagement ambitions, to be ranked in the top quartile.

“At Service New South Wales, the two go hand in hand. In order to deliver outstanding customer experience, you also need to actively engage and have a very happy workforce. That’s a key element to our vision and culture. Invest in your people and you get the outcome of a great customer experience.

“Being a new organisation, we recruited staff afresh. Nearly 60 per cent came from other government agencies, with 40 per cent coming from outside government. We’ve got a real mix of new staff to service New South Wales.

The focus in our training is on emotional intelligence – really looking at the soft skills and complementing that with the technical training.”

Continuing to meet the needs of the customer

“Customer feedback is extremely important to us, so we’re tracking that via CSAT (customer satisfaction scores), which is by a question asked within the contact centre at the end of each call.

“Since the launch, we have continued to modify and enhance the way our service is being designed. This feedback draws on market research, and what end users expect of the service.”

Call centre staff are using Salesforce information management tools. The cloud-based CRM capability helps track and manage customer profiles and tackle the most common enquiries. It enables staff to draw on a previous history, utilise a consolidated database, anticipate questions, increase first call resolutions and respond more promptly.

“We are continuing to build our knowledge base about questions that are routinely asked, and being able to answer these at the outset.

“We have what we call self-service customer feedback zones in the service centres. There’s immediate feedback going through in our physical shop fronts. We also have a feedback mechanism on our web page as well – a significant part of whether we’re achieving our goals or not.

“The other way we’re doing that is tracking against service levels and outcomes. Service New South Wales has a mandate, the Service New South Wales DNA. We’re continually reviewing our performance against those success factors and progressing exceptionally well. As we succeed, we can then continue to grow the service.”

“At the time of writing this, the contact centre had an average answer time of just 29 seconds. The challenge now is to pre-empt the demand. Since going live, customers have embraced the service much faster than expected.”

Up to 8,000 telephone numbers are being used to access information. The NSW government seeks to cut back on these enquiry landlines whilst saving on the cost of running many telephone systems.

During the Government Contact Centre Summit 2014, Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt will talk through the Service New South Wales journey – from creation, success, lessons and the culture change and vision for the coming years.