Holly Richardson, Unilever

Holly Richardson

Holly Richardson

Regional Digital and Customer Experience (CX) Lead - Middle East, Pakistan, Sri Lanka


United Arab Emirates

It may be a surprise to some, but customer experience management did not exist as an official function at Unilever, until just over a year ago. For Holly, what started as a “passion project” – trying to put customer experience on the map at the global food giant – has now evolved to become part of the company’s purpose and change management agenda.

Holly joined Unilever over five years ago, and has had a role in numerous transformation projects during her tenure.

As a CX leader, a key part of her agenda has been to change the language used within the business from being sales-orientated to being experience-driven.

To do this, Holly worked with Unilever’s global brand management team to revise the company’s brand strategy and develop a new brand promise of ‘leaving customers feeling supported, inspired and progressed’.

The strategy for delivering on this promise was formed by leaning heavily on Voice of the Customer methodologies such as customer journey mapping, focus groups, surveys and analytics to establish customer needs and expectations, before being relayed to the wider organisation via employee workshops, new recognition schemes, best practice sharing and an overhaul of the external communications and imagery being used by the company.

A new customer listening scheme was implemented, and while still in its infancy, has led to the introduction of NPS and CSAT for the first time at Unilever and consistent rises in NPS between 2018 and 2020, in the 15 countries that Holly leads.

Unilever’s global HR team has also shifted its approach to recruitment to now screen candidates for customer-centric values, as well as incorporating customer-driven reward and recognition schemes into employee benefits and customer-centric KPIs within the performance targets of the majority of all employees.  

Whilst still in its early stages, Holly’s passion for creating a business-wide customer-driven mentality has led to end-to-end customer journey mapping being adopted by Unilever, globally, for the very first time. As a result, the business has pinpointed the right parts of the customer journey to deliver an excellent experience and is placing more focus on product availability and implementing new systems of how we can track this in a more timely and reliable manner.

Holly also says it’s noticeable, even in a relatively short period of time, how much more engaged Unilever teams are in the company’s new vision and approach, and that employees are aligning around the customer’s experience now vs purely on sales funnels.

Apart from product development, our customer rarely had a “seat at the table” in our business discussions, whereas now the conversations have definitely shifted much more towards improving the lives of customers.

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