The UK’s Lloyds Banking Group is on a mission to put the customer first. Here Sergio Vieira, director of customer insights and interactions, talks about creating a more customer-centric business.
He told B&T, ahead of his presentation at the upcoming ADMA Data Day, that: “We have become less focused on acquisition and sales activities and are starting to focus more on service, education and how we look after our existing customers too.”
See the Q&A below for more.
Q: Can you start with giving us a bit of background on yourself and your role as ‘Customer Insights & Interaction Director’ please?
A: In 1995, I joined Santander in Portugal as a call centre adviser – that was my first job in financial services. A year later, I was responsible for the development of Santander's internet banking service, which was the first in Portugal. Then, in 2001, my job changed and I started to work on a CRM capability that gave us a 360 view of the customer.
I moved to the UK in 2008 to implement this 360 approach in Santander's UK branches, and stayed there for three years before I was appointed as Customer Interaction Management Director at Lloyds Banking Group.
Last year, I became Customer Insights and Interaction Director for the Group. It's my job to be the voice of the customer across the business for Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Scottish Widows. It means understanding our customer base, making sure that we can offer the right solutions for them, and find the best way to tell them about it. We then carry out the activities and, importantly, we measure them to make sure customers are getting the best results.
It's a very broad role that includes research, proposition design, pricing, strategy and measurement but ultimately makes sure that the customer is at the heart of our business.
Q: What are you focused on achieving this year and how will you go about it?
A: The journey we are currently going through is to make the business even more customer-centric. The focus has changed from volume, as it was a number of years ago, towards value.
In the past, the majority of our activities were measured in widgets instead of the value they generate both for customers and for the bank. We are more focused on value to customers now. We have become less focused on acquisition and sales activities, and are starting to focus more on service, education and how we look after our existing customers too.
Q: Could you please explain the origins of the ‘four pillars’ and what it means for Lloyds Bank marketing?
A: Our four pillars are reshape, simplify, strengthen and invest.
In terms of what this means…it’s directional and very simple. Complexity doesn’t help the business and it doesn’t help our customers if we make things more difficult for them to make decisions or transact. So we have simplified our business to make sure we have processes that are easy to understand from a customer’s perspective and easier to advocate from a bank’s perspective which also, in turn, reduces errors.
At the same time, we are trying to strengthen our business and make investments in the right places. That allows us to keep moving in the right direction and be a step ahead of our competitors. And we have a number of initiatives that we are investing in — digital is one and customer insights is another. We're trying to make sure we have a better understanding of what our customers need and do what we can to make it a better experience both for customers and colleagues.
Q: What are the challenges facing Lloyds Bank this year?
A: Making sure that we continue to meet the needs of our customers is an ongoing and evolving challenge – so that is at the forefront.
On top of that, the banking industry in the UK has been through a tough time, and we're all trying to rebuilding trust with customers. It's important to talk about what we're trying to do, but more important to actually do it, and some of the numbers on that have started to speak for themselves. For example, if you look at the number of complaints we get, relative to the number of customers we have, we now receive fewer complaints than any other major bank. We'll carry on working at this so we can fix the things that cause customers to complain in the first place and, if they do have cause to raise an issue, make sure that we handle it well.
Q: What does customer loyalty mean to you as a marketer? Has it changed since taking on this role?
My job goes beyond loyalty. It’s about making sure that we meet customer needs with our products. We need to understand if customers are using our products for the purpose they were designed for. If they aren’t, we need to help the customer make the most of the product that they have. If we find the customer doesn’t need certain features, then we need to review that and see if the product is truly meeting their needs or not. And if it's simply not working for them, we should propose a new product.
Our Net Promoter Scores are improving significantly which shows that we're doing making some real progress happening. It won’t happen in a day of course, but a lot of customers are responding positively to what we are doing.
Q: Can you give us a teaser on what you plan to discuss in your presentation at ADMA’s Data Day?
A: The presentation will focus on our plan to be the best bank for customers – against the backdrop of the challenging market and adverse financial environment.
Q: In your current role what are you most proud of and, if you had your time over, what would you change?
A: I’m most proud of the further progress we've made in putting customers at the heart of our business. Our approach means the business can make informed decisions to the benefit of our customers.
As for what I'd change – I believe you should never regret what you may have done in the past but learn from the experience. I would say that I wouldn’t change anything but I can tell you that I have learnt a lot from my experience.