Transforming CX in Financial Services, With Claudiu Coltea – CB53

Episode Overview

Claudiu Coltea is the Executive Vice President and Head of Customer Experience for Citizens Financial Group. He’s a perennial customer experience leader with a background at Gallup, in health care, and in operational roles. He had several interesting takeaways on customer experience management and transforming CX throughout this interview; I’d encourage you to listen to the entire episode when you get some time.

About Claudiu

Claudiu Coltea is the Executive Vice President and Head of Customer Experience for Citizens Financial Group, covering the consumer and commercial bank. Claudiu brings 15 years of customer-centric leadership from multiple industries, including financial services, healthcare, and strategy consulting, and is a published expert in the field of customer experience. Claudiu serves as a member of Citizens Executive Leadership Group and is also a part of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council.
Prior to his role at Citizens, Claudiu led the customer experience organization at Fresenius Medical Care North America, where he built a first-of-its kind program within the healthcare industry across a footprint of 4,000 clinics and hospitals. His work has improved the length and quality of life for people living with kidney disease as well as the experience of physicians and medical professionals who care for them. At the Gallup Organization, Claudiu was a financial services practice & senior team lead, working with global and national banks to significantly improve customer loyalty, and build lasting relationships with customers. He designed a best-in-class customer experience model now utilized across a global footprint. At Citigroup, Claudiu built segment-based customer experience strategies and voice of the customer programs across a global branch and call center network, improving the bank’s overall JD Power ranking and improving profitability.

Transforming CX in three segments

He approaches his work in three segments:

  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Lead


In the listen phase, your focus is on understanding relationships. One thing that’s changed drastically in the last 20 or so years is that you need to meet a company where their IT is, i.e. where their technological sophistication currently resides. If you don’t understand that part of the equation, it will limit what you can do. Overall, you need to know in this stage where a company is in terms of their maturity map/model. It’s all about understanding issues/pain points and having discussions. In other words: listen.

In the learn phase, your goal is to tie together what you got from listening and remove/eliminate the noise. You need to engage with stakeholders. A big factor in the learn phase is simplification. Companies love to over-complicate projects with processes. If you are really serious about transforming CX, though, you actually need to simplify down in such a way that anyone can understand what the gameplan and approach will be.

In the lead phase, you’re practicing change management and engaging with executives and rank-and-file employees alike. The best outcome here is for CX work to be linked back to the employee level (while understood at the executive level), so that the entire ecosystem is connected up. One strategy here is to “take it on the road,” i.e. show the CX map and other tools to different departments and levels of the company. They need to “get” it, because if it feels like another thing they need to manage or contribute to, it won’t be effective.

These three cycles repeat over and over again and that leads to real transformation in your customer experience.

The four dimensions of his team

Always interesting to see how CX teams are structured. His team composition was really intriguing.

There’s an Office of the President (50-60 people), who are kind of like the “Navy Seals” of the organization. They resolve issues and repair connections.

He also has a market research team of about 6-7 employees.

There are 3-4 designers as well.

Then there’s 10-15 directors, who are people from other aspects of the company that come together and discuss transforming CX and issues around customer relationships.

The Pay It Forward Question

I ask all my guests this one: What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN? 

His answers:

  • Don’t worry about the spotlight: You get more done when you give the credit to others.
  • Patience: The clients you want often do come around and become partners if the fit makes sense. But the process is going to often be very long.
  • Think about your own CX: How do other people experience you? Be the change you wish to see in the world and begin that change with yourself. That’s often how it plays out the best.


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