connecting with customers

from sales focus to customer focus in retail banking

With a disconnect between their customer-centric vision and the reality for customers, our client’s employee satisfaction levels were at an all-time low. Our task: to design a culture change programme that would turn this around.

our approach

We ran a broad range of diagnostic studies involving 5,000+ employees, to help ‘look under the bonnet’ of the organisation, as well as talking to many customers in the branches.

We found that staff were incentivised to sell at all costs, including at the expense of customers’ real needs and this was causing unhappiness and mistrust amongst frontline staff. Leaders and managers were micro-managing, mirroring a strong command and control culture, so staff felt unable to do the right thing for their customers. This was exacerbated by a performance management system which drove sales before customer focus. Although a new vision and values had been created to address these issues, they weren’t widely known, either at leadership level or below.

Having built the picture of what needed to change and why, we began defining the ‘to-be’ requirements for the cultural shift from a product-centric, sales focused organisation to a customer-centric, service orientated organisation. We ran workshops with leaders at different levels across the business to communicate the desired strategy and requirements. To make sure the changes would stick, we created a new leadership model and identified ways of helping leaders to develop and adapt their approach. Everything we introduced had to be relevant across all customer channels.

In tandem, we set up a number of ‘branch of the future’ test sites to trial new ways of working, based around a more customer-focused approach.

Finally, we created a transformation roadmap with the prioritised activities needed to complete the change journey.

our insights

Branches and call centres are places where customers can solve problems, not just conduct transactions, so frontline staff really want to be more customer oriented. When the focus is purely sales, there is a disconnect between the leaders in head office setting targets and the staff in branches serving the customers.

A reframing is needed in retail banking as to what it means to be customer focused, reflecting the fact that true customer focus does not need to compromise sales. In a world where customers switch loyalty and expect excellent service, focusing on value to the bank rather than value to customers ultimately – and ironically – comes at a high cost to the bank.

the results

The Branch and Call Centre of the Future sites we set up to trial new ways of working resulted in a 10% increase in colleague engagement and a Net Promoter Score (NPS) increase of 8%

We created a cultural transformation plan for the bank to become more customer centric, led by an aligned executive team. This encompassed leadership development, colleague engagement and performance management, and a new recruitment process based on revised colleague profiles and competencies. This all sat alongside a clarified service proposition and the Branch/Call Centre of the Future sites.

After being shared with the regulator, the plan became the foundation for the internal culture change programme over the next three years.