The Role of CX In Modern Merchant Banking

In Conversation With Andrew Clayton from Close Brothers

Andrew Clayton, Former Group Head of CX, Close Brothers, discusses the modern merchant banking experience and the role of CX teams in supporting large scale transformation efforts and building confidence among customers. 

What’s the use of collecting customer feedback if it lies stagnant in the company database? Demonstrating the use of feedback, leveraging customer analytics tools, and illustrating an improvement in products and services is one of the best ways to help brands stay customer-focused. 

“I use the mantra ‘customer first, not digital first’ as a key principle. Within the end-to-end customer design process, brands need to consider how best to blend technology/digital with human experience design, which is relevant to their target customers,” says Andrew Clayton, Former Group Head of CX, Close Brothers. 

He discusses the modern merchant banking experience and the role of CX teams in supporting large scale transformation efforts and building confidence among customers.

Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about the modern merchant banking experience.

It’s all about establishing a clarity of purpose. At Close Brothers, our purpose is to help the people and businesses of Britain thrive over the long-term. Our purpose provides a common North Star that allows us to connect all our people, regardless of their roles.

Underpinning our shared purpose is our customer commitment that articulates how we want customers to feel in their relationship with Close Brothers and the day-to-day behaviours we need to demonstrate to earn customer loyalty 24/7. This helps guide us in designing and consistently delivering an end-to- end experience.

Research consistently tells us that earning customer loyalty is about understanding and persistently delivering experiences that meet both the rational and emotional needs of customers. It will help your brand stand out and by doing so, help deliver sustainable organic growth.

Like all industries, designing the end-to-end experience requires a deep understanding of customer needs and goals. I refer to this as the need to truly walk in the shoes of customers; and then build capability and organisational muscle to continuously adapt your end-to-end delivery and products that meet those needs, and enable customers to achieve their goals.   

How can CX teams play a role in building confidence among your customers and wider stakeholders?

The proof of the pudding is in the eating; – this effectively means that the quality or truth of something must be judged based on the experience and results. Such confidence of customers and stakeholders provides evidence that you have either delivered what you promised, or you haven’t but you are doing something about it. 

To ensure robust and reliable customer measurement, I recommend the combination of leading and lagging indicators that include NPS (at a relationship/brand level), relevant journey metrics, such as CSAT or Customer Effort and being able to showcase how these impact financial metrics such as customer retention, customer referrals and lifetime value. Demonstrating how these metrics perform, relative to peers over time, is also an important proof point for key stakeholders.

I get frustrated when brands collect feedback but do nothing about it. It is critical to demonstrate that they take each customer’s feedback seriously and respect the time that customers take to provide it. This can be done by illustrating the actions and improvements based on the feedback. I like to see a culture of ‘you said / we did’ as an embedded part of a continuous improvement culture in an organisation. 

With this culture, the brand will be able to showcase customer stories and testimonials that give confidence and trust in the brand and further prove that you are delivering upon your brand promise. 

What are the implications of the key emerging trends in technology in the design and delivery of the end-to-end experience, and how can we learn from modern digital players?

Think about technology in the context of how it can be best used to support your customer experience strategy. I use the mantra ‘customer first not digital first’ as a key principle. Within your end-to-end customer design process,brands need to consider how to best blend technology/digital with human experience design, which is relevant to their target customers. 

At Close Brothers we use the phrase ‘remaining human centric but digitally enabled’, which reflects the continued importance of building and retaining strong human-to-human relationships with customers whilst looking at ways to optimise the experience by using appropriate digital tools and technology.

How can CX teams play an effective role in supporting large scale transformation efforts?

CX teams need to have a significant role in transformation programs to ensure that those programs deliver solutions and build capabilities that meet customer needs. CX experts need to be embedded into key work streams and bring design thinking skills to the table. It will also allow customer voice and insight to be considered in all project deliverables.  

CX also has a vital role in the run-rate set-up. CX needs to ensure that customers are considered a part of ongoing change projects and product reviews and builds capabilities to listen and act on customer signals and feedback in real time. Embedding a robust customer operating framework ensures accountability and ownership of experience across the end-to-end customer journey.

For more insights on CX in the BFSI sector, join us at CX NXT – BFSI Summit, which will take place in London on 07 May 2024. For registration and more information, visit CX-NXT BFSI Summit.