Christopher (Chris) Roberts is a globally renowned brand strategist & CX expert, and the creator of the Total Engagement Model®, a scientifically designed brand strategy model which is taught at universities in the APAC region. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Engaged Strategy, a boutique consultancy that helps businesses harness the power of CX and brand strategy. Chris’ knowledge of 200+ brands across 20+ industries has helped him create success stories of businesses growing from being the worst in their category to the Best. He has spearheaded 3 National Benchmarking Studies in Australia, providing critical and actionable insights and recommendations that has helped businesses across multiple industries. Over the years, he has achieved record-breaking results in sales, margins and market shares by implementing a range of innovative customer-driven marketing strategies. He has helped brands increase their NPS® scores by 80+ points in the B2B space and by 60+ points in B2C. He has authored several books with insights in key business areas.
Chris’ Total Engagement Model®, a globally renowned brand strategy tool, helps organisations align who they were with what they do and what they say, and thus evolve a unique customer value proposition. It is officially published in the Journal of Product and Brand Management and is taught at the university level. Throughout his career, Chris has achieved record-breaking margins in the areas of sales and marketing. His innovative marketing strategies have helped him redesign organisational engagement based on customer insights and frontline staff management which are applied in international brands today. His expertise in brand consultation and rejuvenation makes him a preferred brand strategist globally. Chris has been an integral part of business forum discussions. He is a keynote speaker at several CX/ NPS events and his insights are highly coveted by graduates, management professionals and top-tier management of leading brands, making him a preferred brand strategist across million-dollar companies across the globe.
As a CEO, Senior Executive or a Manager, improving staff productivity and focusing the energies of all your staff to achieve your vison or business goals is an obvious focus area that can allow you to scale new heights. Let me share an experience where I achieved an extremely challenging target via organisation-wide staff engagement.
Many years ago, after being a marketing manager for multibillion-dollar product portfolios, I got an opportunity to head up the Customer Management function at unique financial institution that offered strong products and services in banking, insurance, investments and business banking. This was unique because most other financial organisations had strengths in one of the above product lines, but were weak in others. Increasing share of wallet via cross sell was the obvious strategy given the organisation’s strengths across a range of financial services.
Now, customer management is different from product management. While product management focuses on selling a product to customers, customer management looks at leveraging the utmost value from the customer base. CRM, cross-selling, market research, segmentation and customer loyalty come to the fore in customer management. This core strategy therefore became my responsibility.
A Strategy Doomed From The Start
That was a time when a couple of financial institutions had failed. As a result customers did not want to put all their financial eggs into one basket. Simultaneously, branch and call centre staff had joined to serve customers, and not sell products. Hence, the word SELL became a four-letter word that they detested. To add to my chagrin, the organisation was very silo-based where each business function was only interested in achieving its own target and was not interested in helping other portfolios.
Fundamentally every stakeholder – customers, staff and the executive was against the strategy! Yet, my team and I were able to rally the entire organisation, across its multiple branches, towards achieving the business goal. How did we do that? Let me explain.
- SELL the strategy don’t just TELL
We examined the economics of customer retention and found that customers who had purchased at least three or four products from us had a nearly 90 per cent retention rate, while those who had purchased just one product had a lower retention rate. Also, those who had more products were more likely to purchase additional products as well. Armed with this data, we converted the four-letter word SELL to TELL and helped them visualise their duty of care towards their customers. Read the following measures that we took to make this happen.
- Link organisational goals to employees’ personal purpose & values
As mentioned previously, the frontline staff viewed ‘sell’ as a four-letter word. In addition, cross-sell was seen aka McDonalds ‘Would you like fries with that’ approach.
Note here that these are people who were committed to serving and supporting our customers. What they really wanted to do was ‘help’. Hence, we built a clear line of sight to their core purpose and values. We explained that they had a duty of care as service staff to ‘help’ customers make money, enhance their life, save money, save time and protect their lifestyle.
As I presented this slide, I noticed staff nodding in agreement and I knew I was on a winner.
Once the frontline staff developed this emotional connection with the organisation’s goal, they knew exactly what needed to be done to achieve it. There was also a personal sense of satisfaction associated with achieving this goal, which made it more of a personal driver for performing better every time they interacted with customers.
- Don’t Just Instruct, Involve
During all my strategic leadership workshops I tell the participants that Without involvement, there is no commitment.
Now that we had sold the strategy to staff and linked it to their core values, the next stage was to give staff the tools to excel. We provided ideation training and templates to Area Managers and Branch Managers to facilitate team ideation sessions. Boy did they get creative!
One incident that I still remember is that at one of our branches the cashiers had stuck a $2 coin on the teller window. Curious about this, several customers enquired about this strange sight and learnt that it was all they needed to invest per week to get pet insurance. Guess what happened! That specific branch had skyrocketed pet insurance sales!
- Make it Fun, Reward & Recognise
We then developed an incentive-based program across the 120 branches of the organisation, adding a zing of competition. There were 10 areas with 12 branches each. Every month one area played off against another. Points were awarded for each cross-sell. Just like a sporting league there were winners and losers every month that were mapped to a league ladder. There were awards for the best branch, best area, most improved, etc. The top 10 executive from the CEO downwards were allocated to a team with the responsibility to encourage and motivate their line-up. Such hands-on involvement from the Executive sent a clear message around the importance of this strategy towards the organisation’s success.
We tapped into three of the most powerful tools here – fun, peer pressure and recognition.
So, What Happened?
In around six months, the organisation achieved 80,000 incremental sales. We also found that the number of customers in the high-value segment increased, while the number of customers in the low-value segment decreased. The strategy was valued independently at several million dollars. The other benefits included a positive impact on employee engagement and a reduction in silo mentality.
Sit back and think… would this have been possible:
- If staff were not SOLD the strategy, not just TOLD about it?
- If we did not emotionally connect the strategy to staff values?
- If we did not INVOLVE staff in the design and delivery of initiatives and instead just INSTRUCTED them on what they should do?
- If we had not included a fun and recognition element?