March Newsletter – an interview with Andrew Clayton

Andrew Clayton

We are delighted to bring the March edition of our CX Talent Ltd newsletter featuring an interview with Andrew Clayton – an Award winning and Globally Experienced Transformation and CX Executive.

Andrew is a seasoned senior leader with a proven track record in designing, developing and delivering large scale transformational change programs that have made a significant impact on performance.

Andrew has extensive experience working within heavily regulated environments such as financial services, utilities, healthcare and insurance. He has held senior positions at a global, regional and business unit level and covered the functions of Marketing, Sales, Operations and HR.

Andrew is passionate about how organisations transform their business to bring their Purpose and Brand to life in everyday operations through the design and delivery of consistent and persistent end to end experiences that earn trust and loyalty and enables the delivery of sustainable earned growth and value.

Andrew is also a founding member of the global Net Promoter (NPS) Loyalty Forum and has contributed to several books and publications. He is a recognised thought leader and speaker on brand, digital transformation and CX.

Andrew – you’ve recently left Close Brothers where you were the Group Head of CX. Can you tell us what your role entailed and what was your biggest achievement there?

Without going into lots of detail, the core purpose of my role was being charged with the over-arching Group responsibility to shape, govern and deliver the experience strategy to enable customer led growth. Reflecting on my time I would say the most significant achievement my team and I had was helping to align the organisation around a common Customer Commitment ‘Customer North Star’ and target customer ambition. The Customer Commitment articulated how we wanted customers to feel in dealing with the brand, the behaviours that needed to be demonstrated and the outcomes, metrics and targets we needed to deliver against to earn and retain loyalty leadership. This framework provided the guidance to business units and stakeholders to co-create, shape and build their strategic CX roadmaps and end to end journeys to deliver loyalty leadership. The Customer Commitment framework and CX roadmaps also helped to identify, build and refine key CX capabilities and further embed a CX culture across the whole organisation that underpinned the overall company growth ambition, purpose and vision.

From your experience  of leading CX transformation in different sectors / industries are there any key success factors that CX leaders need to focus on in leading change ?

I personally don’t believe there is one single recipe for delivering successful CX transformation, but I do think there are some key ingredients that CX leaders need to include when trying to find their winning recipe for success. Concretely from my experience these would be my top 5 tips:

1. POSITION CX AS A STRATEGIC PRIORITY: Secure unwavering commitment from the top of your organisation ensuring there is a bridge between CX and your purpose, brand framework and values.

2. ESTABLISH THE BUSINESS CASE FOR CX: Robustly demonstrate how improving CX impacts the metrics that matter for your organisation and quantify the potential value opportunity.

3. EMBED CX INTO BUSINESS RYTHYM: Build CX into the operating framework and as part of strategic and planning cycle with appropriate budgets specifically allocated

4. INSTALL EFFECTIVE LISTENING & UPGRADE VOC CAPABILITY: Move away from ad-hoc surveys to always on predictive listening ensuring robust customer insight that drives real action and delivers meaningful impact

5. CREATE A CUSTOMER OBSESSED CULTURE: Weave customer centricity into your everyday culture, communications and reward & recognition systems

You’ve got fantastic experience across Healthcare, Financial Services and Utilities in CX. All of these are heavily regulated – how are CX initiatives impacted by these regulations. What challenges or opportunities does that present?

The first thing that comes to my mind when I get asked this question is why has the regulator intervened in the market in the first place? A large part of that answer must be that the market incumbents have failed in their duty to adequately deliver to the customers they are there to serve. This to me means there are opportunities for brands to stand-out and differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack if they place customer at the heart of everything they say and do and truly walk in customers shoes. As such I would say achieving the bar set by the regulator is the minimum requirement. Given it is an Olympic year it is like the bar you need to reach to even take part in the games, but it will certainly not be sufficient to earn you a gold medal. To earn the gold medal, you need to find ways to stand-out, perform when it matters and differentiate yourself in  your customers’ eyes as they are the ultimate judge in the business world of whether you fail or thrive. Practically that means consistently delivering what I call the ‘brilliant basics’ as well as finding opportunities to stand-out, the ‘branded hallmarks’ that make you unique and valued. In a previous organisation we challenged CEOs in each country business unit to identify based on customer insight some game-changer initiatives that they would personally sponsor and be accountable for executing to ‘shake’ their respective markets, stand out from the competition and deliver earned growth.

What would you say would be your biggest successes and your favourite moments in terms of CX in your career to date?

Any successes in my career to date have been shared moments and team success. I firmly believe in ‘We not Me’ as it is always about teams of people rather than any one individual in any of the transformation roles – I have been given the opportunity to lead. Personally, I always get the biggest source of pride and enjoyment from building organisational capabilities, leaving organisations in a better place than when I started and seeing the growth of diverse young talent. Looking back on some stand-out team successes I would say helping Allianz become one of the first global adopters and thought leaders in successfully implementing the NPS system, supporting Bupa in its journey to fulfil its purpose by bringing the brand to life through the end to end experience delivered, helping E.ON with the design and delivery of innovative new game changing propositions as part of the energy transition and finally aligning Close Brothers around a shared Customer ‘North Star’ ambition and commitment to guide decision making and embed a customer centric culture.

Over the course of your career – CX has changed enormously, what skillsets do you think that people really need to hone if they want to pursue a career in CX?

CX leaders to me are primarily change leaders helping organisations to transform their business to become more customer centric and earn the right to grow. Given CX roles by definition are transversal I think any CX leader needs to be a well-rounded systems thinker with an appreciation and knowledge of the key business functions and how each function’s skills and expertise can be best harnessed to deliver the target experience and outcomes. On a personal skills level – stakeholder management, effective communication and cross functional leadership are key assets for any aspiring CX leader to possess along with an unwavering passion for customer. On the technical side skills such as CX/UX design, insights and analytical ability, measurement and capability building are key for CX leaders and their teams to hone.

What is your view about the use of AI to help CX initiatives?

As a transformation leader I use the mantra ‘customer first not digital first’ as a key principle. With this in mind within the end-to-end customer design process, brands need to consider how to best blend AI with human experience design, which is relevant to their target customer needs. There are of course significant opportunities that AI presents to leaders such as improving real-time customer understanding fuelled by predictive analytics and insights, enabling better personalisation of experiences especially in the Metaverse, equipping colleagues with knowledge and prompts at their finger-tips to provide immediate support to customers and improving speed to market especially in content creation and prototyping. However, I would also say especially in relationship driven businesses it is important to stress the continued importance of building and maintaining strong human-to-human connections with customers whilst looking at ways to optimise the experience through the careful adoption of appropriate AI tools and digital technologies.

As a recognised thought leader in CX – how do you see the discipline evolving in the future?

I think there are couple of important emerging themes and trends to consider. Firstly I believe that CX will evolve to more broadly encompass the orchestration of the total experience. This means experience management will gradually accelerate to include a broader remit and scope which includes designing and improving the brand, product / proposition, customer and also employee experience. Secondly, I think  experience ecosystems will become increasingly important requiring leaders to look beyond just their own organisation towards designing and delivering the total experience both upstream and downstream with partner organisations. Finally, I see considerable movement towards the so called ‘third wave’ of experience management which for me includes key elements such as the continued maturity and adoption of AI, the evolvement of predictive analytics and greater personalisation. These are all of course exciting developments, but I still believe there is a long way to go in many organisations to get even the basics and fundamentals of experience management right as well as properly anchoring CX with a seat and sufficient influence at the Executive table.

Given your experience what advice would you have for those candidates who are looking to develop their career in CX?

As I mentioned earlier, I think CX professionals need to be well-rounded, multi-disciplinary change agents. I therefore believe gaining experience and knowledge in a variety of functions is key for any aspiring CX leader. I recommend this should include spells in Operations, Sales and Marketing. The ability to lead and influence people from across an organisation towards the achievement of common goals is also critical. As such ensuring time is spent on developing those leadership, influencing and stakeholder management skills through project management and chairing groups and committees would be helpful skills to attain. Finally, I would say building a network internally and externally of trusted peers and colleagues who have been there and done that has always been a massive help to me and something I would highly recommend any young leader to nurture as part of their career development.

What is next for you? What sort of challenge are you looking for next?

I am always excited and positive about what the future holds. I am particularly keen to work together with purpose led brands who want to create a better, more sustainable future and who are committed to placing customer at the heart of their business strategy. I am passionate about supporting organisations in driving transformation to earn the right to grow. I want to continue to equip organisations to differentiate their brands from competitors through the total experience delivered that builds trust and loyalty from their customers, partners and their employees alike.

We’d like to thank Andrew for his time and professional insight in answering our questions.

Stay tuned for our next months’ amazing CX guest for further insight into CX initiatives and advice on career progression.

At CX Talent LtdJo van Riemsdijk and Kate Baird are connected with the brightest and best talent in Customer Experience, Customer Operations, Digital Experience and Service Design at all levels.

If you would like to discuss your recruitment requirements in this area and how we can add value in finding the right fit for your team. Please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

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