Maximising the Customer Experience

Recently we invited Peter Jamieson, Executive Director of Customer Experience, GM Holden to share his insights into the customer experience for the ASFA February briefings in Sydney and Melbourne. We spoke to him about his customer-focused experiences and his thoughts and advice for the super industry.

What is the customer experience and how do you move from the ordinary to the ideal?

The customer experience covers all areas of how your customers experience your products and services. For Holden, this includes the experience of buying a car, servicing your car and all those stages in between. You may not be in the market for a new car but just looking at what’s coming, or what options you may have for re-financing your vehicle.

Improving customer’s experience is not an end point, but a continuous journey. At Holden, we know that what meets a customer’s needs today, may not do so tomorrow. Benchmarks are always evolving and customers’ expectations are continually changing. The good news is that this provides new opportunities to engage with customers, in different ways.

Moving from the ordinary to the ideal starts with leadership, setting the tone, the strategy and the vision.Companies who successfully put customers at the centre start with aligned leadership vision and strategy.

What are the current trends in customer experience?

One thing that we are heavily influenced by is the notion that the customer experience is not just about improving something then moving on.It’s about a continual process of innovation and improvement. It is important for leaders to support a culture of innovation, learning and continual improvement.Customers have many needs, some of which they explicitly tell you, others you have to work to find out. Leading customer centric companies pay attention to the unspoken needs, asking questions that really get under the surface of why something is important to a customer, what does it mean to their life. For Holden, it’s no longer just about purchasing and maintaining a vehicle. Throughout your life, you will have different ownership needs and vehicle requirements.We aim to understand those changing needs better than anyone else and make sure we are changing and adapting to those needs. Whether it be different vehicle usage or ownership models, different ways to purchase and service vehicles, we want to stay in front of customer needs and be the market leader in anticipating what customers want next.

How sophisticated are Australian customers?

Australian customers are pragmatic – they don’t like to accept what is less than reasonable and are clear in what they want. They like to know that the core service they are paying for is being delivered and if that core service is being delivered consistently and at a high standard they are usually open to new things.

We have found if you listen and try to find the unique and individual needs for customers – knowing how they want to be treated and what they want next – you have a much stronger opportunity to introduce new options to them. Particularly if you are satisfying an un-stated need. At Holden, we have been looking after Australian customers for over 100 years, understanding the unique needs of Australian drivers.We plan to be doing that for the next 100 years, evolving and adapting to the changing needs of today’s and tomorrow’s Australia.

How should Australian super funds plan for better engagement and outcomes?

Any commitment to improving customer engagement must start with leaders having frequent and direct contact with their customers. I encourage the leadership teams in super funds to undertake a learning exercise about how their fund looks after its members. This can be done by trying to take up one of your own service on-line, taking calls from customers, or spending time in your retail environments, living your customer’s experience. It’s the only way to fully appreciate how easy or difficult you have made it for customers to manage their retirement investments. In particular, paying attention to how your fund acknowledges and recognises individual customers is key. So many organisations treat customers as numbers or transactions, rather than individuals, with individual needs.

The super industry is data rich and has the information needed to better acknowledge its customers. Things like how long a customer has been transacting and when next they will hear from a fund are the little things that can show you really care about me.But it starts with leadership teams becoming more involved and getting closer to the customer.

Peter Jamieson is the Executive Director of Customer Experience, GM Holden. He joined Holden early in 2016 after spending over 30 years with Telstra. Peter originally trained as an accountant but his real passions are customers and leadership. At Telstra, he led the transformation of Telstra contact centres from a sales to customer centric operation. He also led Telstra’s company-wide customer advocacy improvement program. At Holden Peter is responsible for improving how customers experience Holden through their lifetime of transport needs.