Customer Insight & Analytics Exchange: highlights from Day 2

If your read my last post you will know that I have been participating in the Customer Insight & Analytics Exchange that took place on the 10th and 11th July in London.  In this post I want to share with you what caught my attention from Day 2.

KBC Bank: getting marketers to make good use of analytics is not that easy

This is what I took away from listening to Patrick Glenison, Head of Customer Analytics and Market Research at KBC Bank:

Marketers and marketers are not analytically oriented.   Propensity models created by the analytics team were not used by the marketers.  Furthermore, marketers and the marketing function is not analytically oriented and as such the marketing function has under invested in business intelligence tools.

The open comments, in the customer surveys, are a rich source of customer insight.  I took this to mean that the quantitative questions whilst allowing a scorecard to be put together  are not helpful in working out what is not working for customers and what changes need to be made.

The challenge is to get the various parts of the organisation – product, marketing, sales, call-centre – to play together so that there is a noticeable impact on the customer’s experience of the bank.

Westminster City Council: use insight to engage the public and manage expectations

Neil Wholey, the Head of Research and Customer Insight for Westminster left me with the following:

Benchmarking is not necessarily useful.  If your organisation does better than the average then everyone in the organisation is content and put their feet up.  If your organisation is average then just about everyone in the organisation is satisfied with that.  On the other hand, if your organisation does worse than the average then the stance is that the survey is wrong!

You can increase the satisfaction of your customers even if you cannot cut the price (taxes), cannot increase quality of services, and may have to cut services.  How? By entering into a conversation with your customers so that get a better appreciation of what you are doing and why – including the constraints that you are operating under.

An effective use of customer insight is to open up new avenues for people within the organisation to undertake operational and marketing campaigns to do new stuff or do things differently so that this impacts your customer positively and they think more of your organisation.  He gave an example: saving money by recycling.

How about engaging customers, genuinely, around stuff that matters to them like decisions around services – which should be kept, which should be cut etc?   Engagement itself is valued by customers and thus positively affects their perceptions of your organisation.  Engagement also means closing the loop: letting your customers know what you have done with their input.

Metro Bank: “Lots of people talk about customer experience, few do it”

My favourite session of the day was listening to Anthony Thomson the co-founder and Chairman of Metro Bank.  Why?  Because he illustrated that competing on the ‘customer experience’ is a business model issue.  And it involves a specific business philosophy that is embodied through a distinct set of practices.   Here are other highlights:

Metro Bank is competing on the basis of the customer experience and that means competing on convenience and service.  This convenience and service has to be paid for in some way by the customer.  And so the bargain made with the customer is that the customer gets lower rates of interest.

Convenience means being there for the customer when the customer wants you to be there.  So, Metro Bank is open when the other banks are not open – it’s opening hours are designed to suit the lives/needs of its customers. Metro Bank is open 7 days a week: from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday; on Saturday it is open from 8am to 6pm; and on Sunday it is open from 11am to 5pm.  More accounts are opened and business transacted when other banks are closed than when they are open!

Transparency matters.  Metro Bank does not engage in the misleading/manipulative marketing practices that the UK banks practice day in day out like offering attractive headline rates of interest and taking them away through the small print.

Metro Bank is channel agnostic.  The focus is on allowing the customer to use the channels that work best for him or her.  And to provide a great experience across any/all channels – the stores, the internet, the call-centre.

A customer can walk and open an account within 20 minutes and that includes issuing the customer with a debit card to operate the account.  For some customers this is too much, they do not believe it is possible and so they go and use it at a non Metro bank ATM to make sure that it works.  This shock is understandable because it can take up to four weeks for other banks to open an account and issue that debit card.

Great attention is given to hiring people who are a good fit with the business philosophy of Metro Bank.  People who want to and are good at generating a great customer experience.  At start-up Metro Bank interviewed 3,500 people for 60 posts.

Getting the Metro Bank customer facing staff to get that they are empowered to do what it takes to generate a great customer experience requires the Tops showing/modeling what that means.   It is not enough simply to tell them that they are empowered to deliver a great customer experience.  If that customer has clocked up a £8 parking charge as she has been in the branch for three hours what is the right course of action?  Should the teller contribute anything towards that cost?  If so then how much?  In this case the teller thought he should contribute 50% toward that parking charge.  And Anthony had to show the teller that £8 is only £8 and that the right thing was to pay for it all.

Saying no to prospective customers is part of the process – not all customers are right for Metro Bank.  Where Metro Bank is different is that the customer gets told “No” rapidly and delicately as opposed to being made to go through many loops and finding out after four weeks that the decision is no.

Members of staff are awarded £10 every time they identify a ‘stupid bank rule’.  Why?  The commitment of Metro Banks is ‘no stupid bank rules’.

And finally

I noticed several times that many (if not all) of the participants are firmly gripped by two notions:

  • that customers will take advantage of and exploit any generosity, any humanity, put forth by the enterprise; and
  • being customer-centric and doing what is right is in conflict with making money (revenues, profits, margins)

And I sense that this is the heart of the issue when it comes to the chasm between the talk and the reality.   ‘Business as usual’ means managing companies to make profit and everything else is secondary.   Whatever will help make the numbers gets done, what doesn’t gets cut.  Whereas in a genuinely customer-centric business the profit is a byproduct of everyone, including the Tops, being focussed on doing something well/great for the customer.  Think Apple, think Amazon, think John Lewis…….

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

4 thoughts on “Customer Insight & Analytics Exchange: highlights from Day 2”

  1. Maz – thank you so much for sharing your feedback and thoughts on your two days at the Customer Insight and Analytics Exchange for the benefit of those of us who were unable to attend. I was particularly interested in the experience of the Metro Bank. How great it must be to work for a customer centric organisation like this. I shall watch their progress with interest. When I was working clientside the biggest challenge was always to convince the Board that putting the customer at the heart of the business made good commercial sense. It’s good to see a banking organisation that seems to ‘get’ this. Andrea


    1. Hello Andrea

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your view with me, with us.

      Metro Bank, it occurs to me that the mood of the whole room lifted when the co-founder talked with enthusiasm about the fundamental principles and practices at Metro Bank. Most people were thinking: how great it would be if our organisation was like this!

      Yes, the challenge is getting the Tops to walk the talk.

      I wish you well.



  2. Hi Maz,
    Thanks for sharing your insights on the two days. After reading your post from the first day and this post it seems to me that most organisations are still struggling with the transformational change that is required to deal with the ‘age of the customer’. Much of that, I believe, can be put down to them failing to become what Peter Senge back in 1994 called a learning organisation.



    1. Hello Adrian
      Yes, it does seem to be that way. What is required is fundamental transformation on the philosophy and practices of business. And that is the very thing that is not happening. The people who benefit from a system are the ones that are least likely to dismantle the system. It has always been thus. And yet, transformation does occur.

      The learning organisation is great in theory and yet our culture/our society is not built to enable/facilitate learning and learning organisations. To be a learnign organistion people must be willing to fail, to acknowledge failure, to celebrate and learn from failure. Yes, learning sound wonderful – just about everyone is for it. Now, how wonderful does failure sound? And how many people are up for that?



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