We are live-blogging from Forrester’s CXNYC this week, the event for customer experience leaders, innovators, and practitioners.
John Dalton interviewed Alice Milligan, Chief Customer and Digital Experience Officer at Citi.
John: What was the specific motivation for creating the Chief Customer Officer.
Alice: There were a lot of changes going on at Citi. The company spent a lot of time out of the downturn focusing on the brand and products. It was about streamlining and simplifying. After that, Citi started measuring Net Promoter Score, we found we were lagging our competitors. The initial take was to look at phone channel improvement. In 2014, Citi recognized that this needed a broader focus across channels, operations, delivery, etc. They took a number of functions, combined them, and created the role.
John: Digital has become a major focal point. Why?
Alice: It’s a combination of a number of things. Clearly, that’s where customers are. Digital is at the forefront. Secondly, Almost 70% of interactions were being done in digital. Upon starting my job, I assessed and discovered that digital drove phone calls. Our digital experience was behind our competitors.
John: Let’s talk about culture and your role in shepherding the culture. How responsive has your culture been?
Alice: First, you have to understand the place where people are before you get them to a new place. Citi had a strong analytical and shareholder culture. Regulation, compliance and risk aversion also played a part. It was important to get quick wins. So the first thing we did was to create a vision. It was all about her team being advocates for the customer and creating great experiences. We wanted to change the vision to being about how to create value vs a one way value capture. It was about know me, value me, etc. We went through an exercise to get all the data in one place. We created a customer experience score card and a dashboard.
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The quick wins we focused on were easily quantifiable cost savings. It was things like error message, site performance, etc. Reduce errors by 77% etc. Those quick wins helped grow the initiative and find people who really believed. They would be those change agents in the organization.
John: How big is your team today and how much has it grown?
Alice: in February 2014 we had 4 key functions and 40 people. Today, we have 17 key functions and 400 people. We’ve grown into the full end to end customer experience. From engagement, communications, digital, and other key functions.
John: That’s pretty impressive growth. Are you still driving the little wins.
Alice: I reference it with the Grand Canyon theory. It’s all about one journey one little win at a time. Together they add up. We were able to identify 13 ways customers transact with Citi and really started to focus on them. For example, balance and payments represented the largest volume. They represent the most significant costs because of phone calls. Those two use cases were really important to people. We eliminated pain points. in 18 month period NPS improved 1500 basis points for balance and 1700 basis points for payments.
Initially, you couldn’t setup an account on mobile. After launching it on mobile, the app represented 35% of new setups.
John: When trying to assess the health of your culture, what do you look at?
Alice: we measure the Voice of the Employee (VOE). In the early days, the VOE scores were not as positive. Employees felt they weren’t empowered and they were embarrassed by some key functions. We introduced customer listening so people listened in to calls. We also started sharing social sentiment. We then held teams accountable for fixing problems that created the problems. We also worked on empowerment with service employees.
John: I think one of the most common questions about culture transformation. After doing the assessment, how do you setup a prioritzation framework for this. VOE programs are kind of a mixed blessing. They can backfire. How do you bring everyone along?
Alice: There are a couple ways we did it. There is small scale and localized and broad and wide. We launched a platform called voice it. It’s an ideation platform. They put ideas into the collaboration tool. Within 48 hours the employee gets a response. The engine enabled people to put the information in and get a response. We also created a recognition program where the best ideas that made it to launch involved the person whose idea it was. For the local items, we were able to prioritize things and show the employees what was happening. Initially, everything was about product enhancement and big changes. We were able to pull some money out and focus on the experience. It was much easier on how to move the needle.
John: This notion of a Chief Customer Office having budget and priorities is unusual. Tell me about your background. You can’t get a degree in customer experience. You have operations, technology, and marketing. Could you do your job without the varied background.
Alice: I think having that mix of experience is important for your background. Those three components are really critical. I know how things work and the types of questions to ask when pushing through barriers. You can challenge people and their assumptions. When you are an operations and have a tech background. You tend to be detail oriented and curious. You can be a great visionary but inability to execute the vision means failure. From a Marketing standpoint you know how to talk to customers and position things. There’s a big component of how you speak to them. UI and Design is an important component of that. I’ll prioritize function over form every time. The other critical component is an innate quality. You need people who are believers. You have to stand up to execs when you are the only one in the room believing.