How to Modernize Financial Services Through Customer-Centric Strategy

Note: We did have some technical sound issues in this episode (slight interference in Will’s audio)–most likely related to our trans-Atlantic internet connection–but this conversation was so valuable, we still wanted to share it with you. Thanks for bearing with us. 

In my conversation with Will Kingston, incoming Director & Head of Financial Services (USA) at CLEAR – M&C Saatchi, we talk about how he developed a passion for customer experience after a lesson learned from his father, who worked in advertising in the ’90s, which was — “You have the ability to tell a story and to be able to shape what a brand’s narrative should be. But you didn’t really have the ability to be able to deliver on that brand promise. You didn’t have the ability to be able to actually influence the operational machinery of the organization to be able to deliver on that change.”

In response, Will decided that he wanted to make customer experience sexy; he wanted to deliver on the promise and measure the results. As a lover of FinTech, his goal has been to modernize financial services in a way that revolves around customer strategy and customer centricity. Will realized that these were components to a business that he wanted to develop in his career, no matter his role.

Will shares plenty of great tactical advice in this conversation and I think you’ll find some actionable items that you can bring to your team. Enjoy!

Learn When to Innovate, and When Not to Force Things

At the time of this interview, Will was the Head of Customer Experience at Close Brothers, a FTSE250 UK merchant banking group in the United Kingdom. He shares that he faced a few different CX challenges because the business operates in groups or divisions, each providing a variety of services. Will says, “It’s interesting, because when you have a group model, there’s a couple of interesting implications from a CX and brand perspective. One is: when you’re in a central role, how much do you let each of the businesses have their own brand and customer experience, personality? What extent do you draw on and align it with central structures? And then the other is, to what extent do you draw and try and force this bank to ultimately be something it’s not.”

Connect All Facets of Your Large Business with One Unified Vision

Building upon Will’s last point regarding building a business into something it’s not, we also discuss the notion of delving into the zone of discomfort. When it comes to a legacy business, there can often be challenges when deciding how to develop CX initiatives across verticals within the business.

Will shares that in order to help unify the different sectors within the bank, he “started with just one mantra, which was — my role as head of customer experience is ultimately to connect our brand promise with our end customer experience.”

In doing so, he also realized that it would be best to “build trust with stakeholders in a bit more of a credible way.” Rather than force something new onto the various teams and divisions, he realized he had to understand who were the power core players in each section.

Understanding the power core is important when it comes to working within bigger businesses where departments tend to work in silos. Will realized the different nuances across the teams and learned how to communicate with each power core. He wanted to be sure that he was offering help by “finding efficiencies, making things run quicker, and easier.”

My role as head of customer experience is ultimately to connect our brand promise with our end customer experience. –Will Kingston, @clear_global #CX #leadership Share on X

The “5 E Customer Journey”

As Will continued his unifying work, he was able to designate one person who was responsible for the end-to-end customer journey within each sector, which is something they never had before. He says, “We went to each business and said who is responsible for each of the five stages of the customer journey. And then even developed sub journey lines below that. Whilst we have different types of journeys across each of the businesses, we had one common customer journey, which provided a consistent taxonomy for businesses.”

Each business section focused on what Will calls the five E’s customer journey: entice, engage, enter, extend, and end. This allows for the framework of the outcomes or the deliverables for the customer to be consistent, while allowing for customization in business unit by business unit. Will explains that this system helped introduce better methods of accountability and measurability of metrics and incentives.

We had one common customer journey, which provided a consistent taxonomy for businesses. –Will Kingston @clear_global #CX #leadership Share on X

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Will says:

“Knowing as a leader in the customer world that you can’t do everything yourself. That’s why you know, you call it the ‘conductor of the orchestra,’ or the ‘human duct tape.’ For me, when I was young and brash, I was trying to kind of change the way an organization thought about the customer. I was trying to deliver this and deliver that, and again, you don’t have the scale, the money, the time, to be able to do it. So I would tell someone aspiring in a customer role to think about how you can become really great as a persuader.”

About Will Kingston

Leslie Stretch Will is the incoming Head of Financial Services Consulting at CLEAR – M&C Saatchi (USA). CLEAR is a global strategy consultancy specializing in business strategy, brand, experience and innovation.

During his career, Will his led teams in management consultancies, unicorn start-ups and listed companies across four continents. He’s approached each role with a ruthless focus on the customer and a belief that financial services can be delivered so much better than what they are today.

The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Wix Answers, the industry’s first customer support platform to solve modern support challenges and create impactful change for your business.

This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Wix Answers! Enjoy the show!

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