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MYC'D UP WITH CX LEADERS episode 2: Andrew Clayton, head of CX, Close Brothers

In the second episode of our rebooted podcast we speak with Close Brothers' head of customer experience, Andrew Clayton, who discusses the commonalities and differences of managing CX in multiple sectors - and why so many CX leaders move jobs so frequently. 

27th Apr 2022
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We speak with Close Brothers' head of customer experience, Andrew Clayton. 

Andrew has been in a number of senior CX roles previously, including at Eon, Bupa and Allianz. 

In this podcast we discussed his thoughts on the commonalitites and differences of managing CX in several different sectors - and why so many CX leaders move jobs so frequently. 

Clearly a big big challenge for many organizations at the moment is how we blend the human experience, human contact together with the digitalization of many businesses, and how you make sure that is seamless and interconnected, end to end.”

MYCD UP podcast

Discussion transcription

MYCUSTOMER: We're delighted to have you here with us today, Andrew. You're currently the group head of CX at merchant banking group, Close Brothers, having joined the company last September, which is just the latest very senior CX role, actually, you've had over the past decade. You've been Global Head of CX at energy company Eon, you've been global director of customer experience for international healthcare group, BUPA... So you've you've been leading customer experience programmes across a real range of kind of different sectors. Tell me how transferable are the skills acquired by customer experience leaders? Are they transferable from one sector to another? Or is there a degree of having to relearn the job and adapt to a different sector and its customer requirements?

ANDREW CLAYTON: That's a very good question. I think my view on this, there is no one recipe for driving customer transformation. But the core ingredients remain the same. It's about how you combine those ingredients to fit the context, the organisation you're in, in terms of the sector, the business context, and of course, the challenges you face in terms of the stakeholders and maturity of the business at any one time. So I think the ingredients are broadly the same, how you combine them to create the recipe for success is different, depending on the context and the business you're in.

MYCUSTOMER: So just sort of comparing those three industries that I mentioned, banking, energy, and healthcare. How does customer experience management? And would you say kind of differs across those sectors?

ANDREW CLAYTON: I think there are some common challenges. I think between those sectors, each of those businesses you talked about are all pretty much purpose-led, trying to create a purpose-led brand and deliver to customers and their loyalty. In terms of the specifics, I guess, obviously, the first thing I would say is the operating environment, those businesses are different in terms of the lead legislative and regulatory conditions; they all face a slightly different position even though they are all regulated. There are differences in how that regulations are applied.

So I think that's the first thing. I'd also say that, you know, in each of those businesses I've worked in, the starting point is also different. So in some of those businesses, customer experience was well matured; some of those businesses, we were starting from scratch. So I think it all depends as to which point of that journey you're in, as to how you then approach the transformation journey for customer experience.

I think there are some common things which are important when one is establishing CX in a business - how can customer experience help in driving customer loyalty and earning that every day driver I call earned growth. So how does customer experience tie to the economics of the business. 

The economics between health care, energy, banking, insurance, which I've worked in as well, are different. So the KPIs which matter in those businesses, and the language you speak has to be nuanced to the business you're in. I think the other thing I would say is you should be walking in the shoes of customers. So really understanding the journey customers are going through with the organization end to end, understanding what those critical moments of truth are, and what those key journey stages I would call them, based on what customers are trying to achieve with your organization is important. And clearly, I would say the journeys, mapping those journeys out as a common thing you should do. But the journeys would clearly be different depending on the organization you're in. And you need to look at it clearly within the context of the customers, you're dealing with the segments of customers, even the personas you are dealing with and mapping and understanding those end to end in a pretty forensic way. And then following that, installing what I would call listening posts; truly listen, learn and act upon feedback at scale, having the accountability for owning the improvements for customers, having the right governance setup, the key performance indicators, and embedding that across the organization are all fundamental things you need to do. But again, applying that in the context of the business varies considerably, I would say.

MYCUSTOMER: There does seem to be a lot of interest about how customer experience management lessons from specific sectors might be able to be applied to other industries, when we find that when we do kind of a sector specific content, it's always fascinating to see how many customer experience leaders from other sectors are kind of downloading those reports and reading that research and, and logging on to listen to those webinars or news interviews. Are there any kind of specific lessons or strategies that you've learned from one sector that you can then be able to apply to another one?

ANDREW CLAYTON:  I think, you know, for me, there are about five or six or common key success factors of design and embed in a customer experience transformation to business. So one is engaging with the senior management team in the organization. So customer experience becomes embedded in terms of what you're trying to achieve as business terms; the strategy and the purpose. So it needs to be part of the strategic framework of the organization. So perhaps creating a bit of a North Star in terms of what you're trying to achieve. And a shared common ambition is important, I think. I said, really understanding what are the channels of distribution? Where are the customer segments you're trying to reach? While the different customer personas help you have an understanding that you've used a lot of design thinking work to really map out and understand what those requirements are, understanding those journeys end to end are important. 

And then, as I said, really establishing the governance model around that, in terms of who is owning, and is accountable for the performance of customer experience across those critical moments in the customer journey, and on the right dashboards and KPIs to manage that, and then have it and then making sure its  linked through to the change governance in the organization. So when we understand a customer opportunity, which we actually want to differentiate out of the brand and deliver to customers, or, conversely, you know, to rectify a pain point, having the right forum where that change can be aired and discussed and aligned upon, I think is important and put into the chain cycle for for execution. I think they're all sorts of pretty important ingredients. Clearly a big big challenge for many organizations at the moment is how we blend the human experience, human contact together with the digitalization of many businesses, and how you make sure that is seamless and interconnected, end to end. But for me, these are part of journey stages which need to be managed and designed correctly. 

MYCUSTOMER:  Customer experience leadership ispart of a relatively new profession. One thing that it seems to already characterize it is that many customer experience leaders tend to have fairly short tenures really. When we recently conducted a study of customer experience leaders on Mycustomer, we asked respondents about how long they had been a customer experience leader within their current company, and only about a fifth had actually been in a post for longer than five years, and it's actually down on the same study from two years earlier. Why do you think it is that there is kind of this tendency in this sector for CX leaders to to move roles so frequently?

ANDREW CLAYTON: Yeah, I think that there's a couple of factors around that. I think one is, I guess, how sticky the customer role is at an organizational level. I think many organizations purport to be customer centric, but do not actually invest in that sufficiently, strategically long term. So I think that's one challenge in terms of the longevity of those roles in organizations. Secondly, I would say the customer experience role is quite vast in the types of functional areas it has to touch, because what is customer experience - everything we do everything we say to a customer, by necessity that means touching the organization and engaging with lots of different functions in the organization from operations, from marketing, from product and proposition development, to employee propositions and HR systems. So it's all encompassing. And I would also say that many CX leaders therefore take this role as an interim role, and move on to other functional leadership roles in the organization. So I think it's a combination of all those factors. The other probable thing I would say is sometimes perhaps, the leaders in role, perhaps haven't got the cuts through which they've looked to deliver and demonstrated the outcomes, which they're looking to achieve sufficiently robustly to get a belief and credibility in the organization. So I think there are a couple of underlying factors around that.

MYCUSTOMER: It's interesting. Do you think too many see CX as a stepping stone to another sort of more senior role?

ANDREW CLAYTON: I think there are obviously differences across the world around the position of the customer role in organizations. I think the US is probably leading that, the moment where, you know, there's been an advent over the last couple of years, I would say, of more Chief Customer Officer roles who have got seniority and grabbing the gravitas and positioning at the exec board table. And I think we will see more of that happening, where the role will become much more of an accepted senior exec type of positioning role and have a seat at the top table. So I'm not quite sure yet in Europe, we've got to that point in many organizations. So I'm hoping that that will still be the case, as you know, driving customer growth and customer loyalty becomes much more of an embedded key function and something which organizations invest in long term. And so I think that's what I would think we will see a continued adoption around it in organizations. But there's still a long way to go.

MYCUSTOMER: Just on a final question, Andrew - what advice would you share to those professionals? 

ANDREW CLAYTON: I've been very fortunate in that I've been leading customer experiences globally for the last 15 years, and I found this bit of advice - to connect with people who've been there and done that. So building your network, working with organizations who can connect you to a tribe of professionals who've had that experience, had to provide that coaching and support and input to you as a leader who started out in that profession, I think, is very helpful. I personally have been connected to the global net promoter forum for the last 15 years. Dealing with lots of the biggest brands in the world. And that's been a simply a fantastic resource for me in terms of learning and support, as I've moved from one role into another. And I think that networking thing is really important, would be my view. And then I will also say that building your stakeholder alignment internally in the organization. Start with baby steps, prove the use case is really important initially. So stakeholder engagement, alignment, sponsorship, showing and demonstrating quick wins in the language of the business, which tangible quick wins, which are linked to the business outcomes that the company is trying to deliver. And then having the support and network around you to support when times can get tough.


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