Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.
Customer Success Principles to Improve Your Customer Effort Score (CES)
In today's competitive landscape, financial institutions must adopt a customer-centric culture focused on loyalty and lifetime value to thrive.
My guest on the Banking Transformed podcastis Wayne McCulloch, Chief Customer Officer at Alkami Technology. Wayne lays out a proven framework for organizations to become truly customer-obsessed. As the author of the best-selling book, “The Seven Pillars of Customer Success”, Wayne brings deep expertise on embedding customer-first approaches across an organization.
Join us as we explore how Wayne's seven pillars can guide banks, credit unions and other financial firms to deliver better client outcomes.
This Episode of Banking Transformed is Sponsored by Alkami
Alkami Technology, Inc. is a leading cloud-based digital banking solutions provider for financial institutions in the United States that enables clients to grow confidently, adapt quickly, and build thriving digital communities. Alkami helps clients transform through retail and business banking, digital account opening, payment security, and data analytics and marketing solutions. To learn more, visitwww.alkami.com.
Hello, and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, Owner and CEO of the Digital Banking Reporting and co-publisher of The Financial Brand. In today's competitive landscape, financial institutions must adopt a customer-centric culture, focused on loyalty and lifetime value in order to thrive.
Jim Marous (00:29):
My guest, Wayne McCulloch, Chief Customer Officer at Alkami Technologies, lays out a proven framework for organizations to become truly customer obsessed. Join us as we explore how Wayne's seven pillars can guide banks, credit unions, and other financial firms to deliver better customer outcomes.
Jim Marous (00:48):
Before we dig into why financial institutions are focused so heavily on customer obsession, can you share a little bit about your career background, Wayne? And after a diverse career around building better customer experiences, what drove you to actually join Alkami?
Wayne McCulloch (01:09):
Great question Jim, and thank you for having me on today. Personally, for me, I've always been on the customer side as a software vendor since the 1990s. I'm aging myself a little bit there, but for me, it's been a huge passion and I've seen tremendous change over that time.
Wayne McCulloch (01:24):
But really, for me, it's all about the evolution of what we expect as a customer experience whenever we're a customer. Because customer experience is really two things. It's how we are treated as a person and was it easy to do and get what we want. That's really all it is. It's not overcomplex in any way.
Wayne McCulloch (01:41):
So, over the years, I've had the fortunate experiences with companies such as PeopleSoft in the nineties, HP early two thousands, Salesforce when I was going through its hyper growth stage, worked at Google and some other big software tech companies who really invest heavily in that experience side of the equation.
Wayne McCulloch (02:01):
And so, to answer your question on why Alkami, first of all, it's just an amazing product, I think right at the forefront of where the market's moving to, and so that's a great place to be. Management team is exceptional and really focused on the customer. And everyone says they're focused on the customer, everyone does. Like no one's going to say we're not.
Wayne McCulloch (02:19):
But the reality is through action and behavior, you can tell if a leadership team truly puts the customer as the North Star and Alkami does. And for me, the fintech world is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to amazing, personalized, omnichannel customer experiences. So, I feel like I can make a big difference in this space with a company like Alkami.
Jim Marous (02:43):
So, what inspired you to write a book covering the building of a customer-centric culture when there are so many customer-centric culture books out there? And why do you feel there's a missing piece in many organizations? And thirdly, what's the biggest missing piece in the financial services industry?
Wayne McCulloch (03:02):
So, it's a big question. Okay, this will be the rest of the podcast. So, first and foremost, the reason I wanted to write the book was — you're right, there is a lot of content out there from podcast to books, to YouTube videos to you name it. And for me, when I'm going through all those things, it's really difficult to piece them all together.
Wayne McCulloch (03:24):
So, what you end up doing is you're like, "Oh, I have a problem here, so let me research how to make that experience better." And so, you'll do a bunch of research and then you'll make some changes, and you do that over a period of time but you still don't see the results.
Wayne McCulloch (03:35):
And the reason for that is because you're just tackling it piecemeal. And what I realized was there was something missing, and it was a framework, something that you could anchor all of your customer-centric initiatives around.
Wayne McCulloch (03:50):
And so, the book, the Seven Pillars, was really written to do that, create a framework of seven pillars that you can start to map out where all of your organization sits as far as its maturity for customer experiences. And so, for me, that was the impetus to write the book.
Wayne McCulloch (04:07):
I feel like at the end of the day, when we think about what's the most important thing in the experience, ugh, the reality is it's all really important. And what it depends on is what your customers need from you as a financial institution.
Wayne McCulloch (04:24):
And you need to ask your customers, you need to listen to your customer. You need to poll your customers constantly to understand what it is they're looking for from you to be a better vendor, to be a better partner, to create a better experience.
Wayne McCulloch (04:38):
And so, for me ... It sounds like I'm dodging the question, but the reality is each financial institution that I talk to, I find that there are different elements where they're strong and where they're weak. And what we want do is understand what their members or customers are telling them to say, "I need this to be better, this needs to be easier."
Wayne McCulloch (04:54):
And one really simple example is your digital banking experience. I need that to be simple, easy in my hand, and it just works. And so, for me, that's a critical selling point of Alkami as a product, for example. But every financial institution might have something very different that it needs to go focus on. And the only way to know is to ask your customers.
Jim Marous (05:14):
So, what are the seven pillars?
Wayne McCulloch (05:17):
The seven pillars really are, first of all, it's the operationalization of your customer experience. What I mean by that is you map out your customer journey (most companies do that), and you start identifying moments of truth. These are the things that happen that a customer or a member interacts with you as a brand. And you have to be amazing. And there are many of these, and they can be in person, can be online, can be in a branch, can be in many different locations.
Wayne McCulloch (05:44):
But the goal is to map out all of those moments of truth, and then determine who owns that experience, who's responsible for delivering a great experience at that moment in time. Is it your website? Is it the branch manager? Is it your digital banking app? Like what is going to own it? And then being able to see exactly how good you are at each of those moments of truth. And that's the first pillar because it's all about getting set up for being able to do this at scale.
Wayne McCulloch (06:10):
The next five pillars all focus on the customer journey itself. So, how do we onboard a new customer or member? What does that experience look like? And I can tell you, I've had some really bizarre experiences ranging from horrible to like, "The app doesn't work, or I didn't get the paperwork I needed, I didn't get the debit card I signed up."
Wayne McCulloch (06:29):
Like there's all these horrible experiences and other onboarding where I get a little welcome kit, I get a little bit of swag in there, a little note from the branch manager saying, "Thank you for joining, we're really excited," like really different experiences. And this is all about how you onboard someone into your financial institution.
Wayne McCulloch (06:45):
The next part is then adoption, which is how do I get our members, our customers to adopt the capabilities of what we offer as a financial institution?
Wayne McCulloch (06:55):
And that could be through loans or credit card payments, or through any myriad of different offerings, checking your credit score online, any of these things — how do I get adoption of that and be thinking about how to bring a customer through that process.
Wayne McCulloch (07:08):
Then there's retention, which is how do I retain our client base? And that one's a really tough one because it's easy to see when someone leaves, but it's too late. So, how do you know? How are you listening for signals that tell you, "Oh, this could be someone that's going to be leaving us very soon'" and react to that in real time.
Wayne McCulloch (07:27):
The next part is expansion. This is how do we expand the suite of offerings that we can present to an individual that helps with retention, improves adoption, but ultimately, grows your bank, whether it be deposits that you're trying to grow, more loans you're trying to make, or any myriad of other offerings you have.
Wayne McCulloch (07:48):
And then finally, advocacy — this one's at the most nascent part of the whole industry, which is how do I take existing people that love my experience on providing as a financial institution and tell people about it? And I've only seen one or two companies do this really well.
Wayne McCulloch (08:05):
And the first one I remember was SoFi, like creating the member experience to be so unique, they go out and tell everyone. And that company grew like wildfire because it focused on the experience and that is something unique and different. And so, that's that whole advocacy piece.
Wayne McCulloch (08:22):
And the last part is strategic advisor. How are you being a strategic advisor to your members and customers? Not sending generic, mass emails that say, "Hey, check out what's going on in the economic world today and things you should know," but really thinking about the financial maturity from a experience perspective of your members, of your customers.
Wayne McCulloch (08:45):
Like are they really adequately prepared for what's going on right now in a financial aspect of their lives? And can you assist? Can you help, can you be a strategic advisor, whether that's through wealth management or refinancing a home loan or whatever. But knowing the right thing to us.
Wayne McCulloch (09:01):
Most financial institutions today, every two days, I get a spam from the bank: "Hey, you should check out new car loans." I'm like, "I'm not in the market for a new car loan." What a waste of my time. Not really yours because it's all automated, but it shows how little you know about me or care. So, I have very little attachment to that finance institution.
Wayne McCulloch (09:22):
I recently opened up a new credit union account here in Colorado because I can have a very personalized relationship with the people there. They can have personalized conversations with me there that I just find my other bank can't. And so, for me, I'm looking for that experience and looking for a strategic advisor that can help me with things I need when I need it.
Jim Marous (09:44):
So, I find it interesting, I've known Alkami for quite a long time. The functionality and the ability to work with financial institutions to bring services to bear, to bring solutions to bear, to make the customer experience better. But it's interesting that they hired you.
Jim Marous (10:01):
And I say that only because a lot of institutions really focus on selling the pieces, but really don't necessarily service or go that final mile in helping the financial institution actually implement the products. Can you talk a little bit about what your daily role is within Alkami, and as it relates to the customers that you sign up for Alkami services?
Wayne McCulloch (10:30):
Yeah, so while I'm relatively new to Alkami, like I said, one of the reasons I came here was because of that customer centricity. But what they were missing was a framework in order to anchor that on and to really drive it home.
Wayne McCulloch (10:43):
So, while I say they actually do a really good job, I feel like there's tremendous opportunity to gap the rest of the competitors in the marketplace from an experience standpoint. And no one can argue that we don't have an amazing product. Like it just scores so well, we're growing members faster than in any other vendors in our space selling to financial institutions.
Wayne McCulloch (11:04):
And when you look at the app store scores that the apps get, the four eights, the four nine, it's a tremendous experience for members and customers. And I feel like what we can also now do is create that unique experience for the financial institutions that we help arm with this amazing technology to go provide to their clients.
Wayne McCulloch (11:28):
And for me, that is a big opportunity here to separate ourselves because this is really hard. I've worked at some pretty complex companies before. Like think of HP where we could do a deal that would have 700 skews on the deal. Like the complexity of putting that together is huge.
Wayne McCulloch (11:47):
Look at Google where I had 7.1 million customers on the workspace platform. How do you manage that? How do you make sure everyone's having success? Like there's complexity but nothing like this. When you are going in and ripping out your digital banking platform, you might be replacing your core, these are things you do every 5, 10, 20 years, they're not regular occurrences.
Wayne McCulloch (12:09):
And the complexity of all the interlocks with all the third-party vendors, it could be 20, 30, 40, 50 vendors all at once coming together for a launch of a new ... The complexity is massive.
Wayne McCulloch (12:20):
And so, the opportunity here is not only to create a very smooth and relaxing (if I can use that word) implementation experience, but after that go live, what does that experience look like as you begin to add and expand more products and open up more innovations to your client base, how can we make that a seamless experience?
Wayne McCulloch (12:41):
And then of course, when you get stuck and you need support, how can we provide that in a fast and incredibly accurate way? And they're the things that I'm here to do is to create the next level of experience for all of our clients.
Jim Marous (12:54):
Well, it's interesting because very much in the way you wrote your book, it sounds like you're trying to bring structure to the process where all the services Alkami offers, you can put them into product silos, you can put them into solution silos, but the reality is it's all about moving a customer along the customer journey in a satisfactory or extraordinary way.
Jim Marous (13:15):
So, you can not only bring these insights to Alkami as to how they serve their clients, but really, to Alkami's clients as to how those clients serve the customer, the end customer. So, it's a B2B2C type implementation. But to your point, it really sounds to me like you're bringing structure to the process that says, let's make sure that everything we do fits into this mold of a better customer success principle, correct?
Wayne McCulloch (13:46):
Absolutely right. One thing I find, and I look at this, this is not just in this industry, this is widespread that you have a lot of teams who care about the customer. So, you'll have a support team all about solving customer problems.
Wayne McCulloch (14:00):
You have an implementation team all about deploying for the customer. You have a customer success team all about ensuring enduring value and continued value accretion with the investment made in the technology. And you'll find these groups all operating with the customer in mind. The problem with this, is you have silos. You have these individual teams driving what they think is the best result.
Wayne McCulloch (14:26):
And what's commonly missing in a lot of organizations is the horizontal group that sits across all those functions, and I call that the customer engagement and experience organization. That's the team that's looking at what's the experience clients are having moving between these groups, for example, because sometimes they're pretty messy.
Wayne McCulloch (14:47):
You've all been there where you contact support and you're like, "Oh, I've got this problem." They're like, "Well, let me just send you through to someone else," and someone send you to someone else, and you get around this envelope. And everyone who's getting it, it's getting it for the first time.
Wayne McCulloch (14:59):
So, they're asking you the question, what's your problem again? And you're like, "Ah, I've already explained this three times." And then it goes to the next person. You'd go through it again and that next person thinks, "Oh, I've only had this for one minute, but you've been waiting three days and you still haven't got your answer."
Wayne McCulloch (15:11):
What's the function that's looking at all of these handoffs between organizations and making sure that someone is accountable, someone's communicating back with the client and regularly updating them, letting them know what's going, who's managing all of that?
Wayne McCulloch (15:27):
And that's the bit that always gets forgotten when we start thinking about everyone's, "Oh yeah, we're all customer-centric," but without this layer across the top, how can you hope to cross those seams and chasms that the customers are constantly trying to jump to work within your own organization? It's really hard for them to do.
Jim Marous (15:44):
So, we're finding more and more in the research that we are doing that customers are becoming less loyal. They may not change their accounts, but their overall relationship is expanding because they're opening more and more accounts outside what may have been considered at one point their primary financial institution.
Jim Marous (16:02):
So, how can institutions leverage your customer success principles to improve retention, loyalty, engagement during times of economic uncertainty and volatility? It makes a consumer feel like they need more.
Wayne McCulloch (16:21):
As I said, it starts with the onboarding. What does that experience look like? And too often, we forget that the process in opening an account should be simple and easy. I should be able to just do it online in minutes and be done.
Wayne McCulloch (16:35):
But then when I've done that, then what do I get from the bank? Do I get a thank you, or a congratulatory? Do I get a gift card? Do I get some swag? Do I get anything at all, a personalized note from Jamie Dimon? I don't know.
Wayne McCulloch (16:47):
But think about what could you get that would be a crazy cool experience when you open up. And that's my very first real interaction with a new financial institution. But then moving through, how do you get me to adopt the capabilities, for example, of your new app? So, one of the big trends we see right now is in app messaging. And it's personalized to me.
Wayne McCulloch (17:10):
So, when I go in and I'm constantly looking at my checking account and I look at my credit card balance, there's 25 other things I could be doing on the app, but I might not know it's there or even not be bothered. Because I don't really know what value there is.
Wayne McCulloch (17:25):
But imagine if a little note popped up and said, "Hey, we noticed that you haven't checked your credit score since you've been on this app, we'd love for you to check out this cool feature we bring to you at no cost." You might be like, "Oh cool, I'll check it now." Now, that's part of my routine.
Wayne McCulloch (17:37):
And over time, I start adopting more and more and more of the capabilities of the digital banking platform, for example. And suddenly, I'm now doing everything there and why would I go anywhere else? Because everything's being done there. These are just some simple examples.
Wayne McCulloch (17:50):
But the reality is you are right that loyalty is moving away. Why? Because customer service is getting worse, customer experiences are getting worse. Have you noticed that? And we complain about it all the time, but we don't do anything about it, we just complain-
Wayne McCulloch (18:05):
Well, my expectations are also getting greater because I'm getting some great experiences now where Amazon, for instance or Uber even, continues to stay in contact with me and offer me more elements that are aligned with what they have found me to want.
Jim Marous (18:21):
And it's interesting because you're seeing these best organizations moving away from transactions to engagement. And you talk about it in your book, moving away from customer relationships to strategic partnerships, which I thought was brilliant because it's really increasing the value transfer to make it so customers seek you out to do not transactions, but interact with you. Correct?
Wayne McCulloch (18:54):
Absolutely. I have less time to chase, project manage, to hold accountable other institutions I work with. I want that to be done for me. I think one of my favorite examples is my wife and I were lucky enough to buy a Tesla many, many, many years ago. And I remember pulling into the garage and it popped up on the console. It said, "We've detected there could be a problem with the car." And I'm like, "Oh, okay, that's pretty cool," it's detecting there may be a problem. I don't know.
Wayne McCulloch (19:20):
Secondly, it says, "We've already alerted the service dealership." And I'm like, "Well, that's pretty cool. I didn't have to do it." And then it said, "We've got some dates and times available here or do any of these work for you, we'll send someone over to check it out." And I'm like, "Press a button, I'm done."
Wayne McCulloch (19:37):
That was it. That was my whole involvement with a problem with the car. I didn't have to call, didn't have to go online and find a time. I didn't have to drive to the dealer. I didn't have to wait, I didn't have to get a loaner car. I didn't have to do any of that. And so, that for me is like, "Oh, I'm only ever buying this car again because all this is taken care of."
Wayne McCulloch (19:53):
My experience is amazing, and the experience it gave me back was time, the most valuable resource on the planet. And it takes all that stress and headache away. And so, for me, looking from a financial institution, what are the things you can be doing that can give back time to people, that can create a great memorable experience that's personalized?
Wayne McCulloch (20:12):
And sure, we can leverage generative AI, we can do all this cool stuff, but the only thing that matters is, is that experience for the individual. Are we treating them like an individual, not a mass marketed person, I'm just sending a blast to on email — and are we making it easier for them to get what they want and need? Whatever those services are, answer those two questions, yes and yes, you're going to win.
Jim Marous (20:36):
It's interesting you talk about making it easier and giving me time back. Part of the customer success journey includes obviously measured results. And while NPS has been a dominant metric for quite some time and still is, what drives the need for an additional metric such as a customer effort score, which you're a real proponent of.
Wayne McCulloch (21:01):
Well, you're going to get me really on a soapbox here, Jim, because for me-
Jim Marous (21:06):
Well, I figured this is what you wanted to talk about, so I'm going to get you there.
Wayne McCulloch (21:10):
I got to tell you, I've seen so many companies put so much value behind an NPS score and it's just a waste of time. Look to be fair, someone just woke up recently and said, "Oh look, NPS is only measuring perceived behavior at a specific point in time. It's not measuring actual behavior." And more often than not, those two numbers actually never match up.
Wayne McCulloch (21:37):
Imagine this, humans don't always do what they say they're going to do — shocker. So, putting all your stock in an NPS score, because a high percentage of survey takers said they'll recommend your product isn't a really good idea because it doesn't mean they actually will or won't, you don't know.
Wayne McCulloch (21:52):
And using NPS to make major business decisions is extremely problematic. So, if you're doing it today, don't do it. Just stop doing it.
Wayne McCulloch (22:00):
Here's a personal example; I've said recently — well, not recently, five years ago, but recently, I remember telling the story. I'm like, five years ago I said, "I hate my bank, I'm going to leave them." And five years later, I'm still with the bank. My intent doesn't match my behavior because it's-
Wayne McCulloch (22:14):
Oh, exactly right. I mean, and it's getting worse because it's hard to leave. It's not hard to diversify.
Wayne McCulloch (22:24):
So, it's easy to add on another financial services product or vendor institution than leave the one I'm at. I've set up all my bill pay, I've got all that going right, but I'm slowly moving away. And this is typical in human behavior. It's easy to talk a big game but it's really hard to follow through.
Wayne McCulloch (22:40):
And so, for me, NPS is all about perceived behavior and intent that may never happen. So, why measure that? Customer effort score, on the other hand, that's capturing an actual behavioral experience that a customer already went through.
Wayne McCulloch (22:54):
So, you're not trying to gauge if they're going to do something or not do something, you are just measuring what they went through. And it's based on more on reality than NPS ever could be. Because NPS is just measuring an intent, a perceived behavior.
Wayne McCulloch (23:12):
So, for me, the CES score is basically one of the best measures of how good your customer experience is. Remember I said customer experience is two things: how well do you treat me and how easy is it for me to transact or do what I need or find what I want?
Wayne McCulloch (23:24):
The customer effort score really takes care of that second piece. Was the effort for you to get this problem resolved, this new service activated, something that you specifically didn't even know you needed but was presented to you and consumed in an easy way; that CES score is basically tracking how good you are as an institution at doing that.
Jim Marous (23:47):
It's interesting, I'd say the other element of that was customer empathy score. How much empathy did the organization show you in trying to help you get to where you want to go? And as you said, the customer effort score is, "Did it get me there easily?"
Jim Marous (24:03):
In your opinion, how does customer effort score differ in capturing the nuances of the customer experience compared to an NPS score?
Wayne McCulloch (24:15):
Look, if we start with the belief that customer experience is a really important aspect of banking today, then we need to believe that every strategic decision we make has to put the member or customer at the center of those decisions.
Wayne McCulloch (24:33):
So, banks and financial institutions obviously need to be digitally transformed to deliver consistent banking experiences, whether it's online or retail, so it's really important. I remember reading recently in the Digital Banking Report, they found that "improving the customer experience in banking" should be the first goal of banking institutions and financial services providers.
Wayne McCulloch (24:55):
Why is that? Well, because CES customer effort score can be a proxy for tracking how sophisticated we are when it comes to these seamless and personalized interactions along someone's journey.
Wayne McCulloch (25:06):
And so, for me, the customer effort score really is something that should be driving a lot of your decisions when it comes to strategic decisions you have to make because it is driving the ultimate experience, which is the only real differentiator in the market.
Wayne McCulloch (25:24):
You can have different products, you can have different rates for CDs or something transient from time to time, but that's only temporary. The long game is keeping a customer for life and you do that through making it all about them and making it easy for them to do business with you.
Jim Marous (25:40):
So, in banking, do you see the improvement of a customer effort score being more of a top of glass change or behind the glass change? In other words, is the back office more responsible for driving the customer effort score than simply the nice nuances of the customer user experience?
Wayne McCulloch (26:01):
I think that's a really good question because the answer is you need both obviously. When you're thinking about what is more important, I don't think that's a valid question to ask because I don't think either is more important, but they need to be integrated.
Wayne McCulloch (26:20):
And so, when you think about the technology we have today and the amazing things we can do, even in the last 12 months that you can see amazing experience, we can now provide insights, data, information, knowledge, all those things. You couple that with an omnichannel experience driven by a technology solution.
Wayne McCulloch (26:38):
At the end of the day, I always talk about you've got to add HI (human intelligence) to AI as an example. Artificial intelligence, combining them both gives you the best of both worlds. Think of the generation spans, people like the baby boomers and the Gen Xers, we still love to be on the phone. We really do.
Wayne McCulloch (27:00):
Not necessarily all the time and not necessarily calling our friends and we've integrated chat and WhatsApp and other stuff into our lives. But ultimately, we're still comfortable talking to someone on the phone. But talk about sort of a Gen Z for example, they don't ever want to be on the phone.
Wayne McCulloch (27:15):
They don't understand why we're on the phone. What's the phone even for? I've got all these other ways of connecting and communicating, whether it's through social and through my phone, through instant messaging, whatever it is, there's just a plethora of other ways.
Wayne McCulloch (27:26):
And so, you have to build technology stack that accommodates all of these generations of people that want to use and leverage the services that you provide. And so, for me, you've got to have that technology infrastructure, you've got to modernize because if you don't, you get left behind. But you got to have those people.
Wayne McCulloch (27:44):
You talked about empathy. Empathy is super critical, especially in the service industry. But the one thing that people miss and I didn't realize this until maybe 10 years ago in my career because I'm like, "I have a highly empathetic organization, but I'm not creating great experiences. Why is that?"
Wayne McCulloch (28:02):
And the reason being is think of Zappos, great example everyone talks about this amazing experience, and why? Because it had empathy? Yes. All its people that work there, amazing empathy for their people. I think Chewy is another example of a company that has incredible empathy from its employees, but it didn't have customer centricity.
Wayne McCulloch (28:21):
The other organizations don't have customer centricity. So, Chewy, absolutely. They give the people at the front line the power, the authority, the ability to make it right no matter what. If it's sending something for free, sending flowers because their love dog passed away or whatever — like this is all about customer centricity married with empathy wrapped in technology, that's who wins every time.
Jim Marous (28:50):
Well, it's interesting because that's what Four Seasons was always known for. The fact that they got it from behind the desk, they didn't have the rules that said you have authority up to $50. They had the decision-making power to make it right no matter what it took and they didn't get criticized for it.
Jim Marous (29:06):
One of the big challenges in financial services and somewhat in other industries as well is our silos. The silos just create so much friction behind the scenes. What does it take to break down those silos and align better around the customer as opposed to the product?
Wayne McCulloch (29:28):
So, there's a very simple technique I use at every company I've worked at or helped consult and advised with. And that is every time we make a decision, the first question you ask is, "What is that impact on the customer?"
Wayne McCulloch (29:44):
And I've seen organizations that in their mind, they've structured internally to make it as efficient and easy as possible to do things because truthfully, in their mind, they're like, "In the end that's better for the customer. If we're operating more efficiently and effectively, that's better for the customer."
Wayne McCulloch (30:02):
But if you actually look at the customer and see the experience, you're like, "Well, that's a horrible experience." They have to wait three days to get an answer because internally, you've routed some sort of queuing system to make sure the right person answers it the first time. But the reality is you're making the customer wait.
Wayne McCulloch (30:18):
And so, if you start putting the customer at the center versus in that case your organization, you look at it very differently and go, "Well, that won't work because that's a worse experience for the customer. How do we drive a better experience for the customer?"
Wayne McCulloch (30:30):
And so, I think asking that simple question, what is the customer experience as a result of this particular decision, that can guide you majority of the time into making the right decision for customer experience. I think the harder, longer challenge is how do I build a technology strategy and a people strategy?
Wayne McCulloch (30:51):
Jim, I've always said that customer success is only done through employee success. If you don't make your employees successful, you can never get to that end game of the customer success. So, whether that's paying people better, better benefits, like listening to them, enabling them, encouraging them, mentoring, coaching, all the things that an employee needs to be successful ...
Wayne McCulloch (31:09):
If you're not doing those things first, all of these customer facing initiatives will fall down at some point because they're driven by people, and you need those people to be successful at their job in order to be successful for the customer.
Jim Marous (31:25):
So, Wayne, looking forward, what are some of the emerging metrics for strategies you foresee playing a more pivotal role in shaping the customer experience?
Wayne McCulloch (31:37):
Look, I think, we have some backward-looking metrics like the customer effort score. Like what was the experience you just had? And the hope is that's going to drive changes that drive different outcomes in the future for our customers.
Wayne McCulloch (31:53):
And so, there's a number of metrics that we can look at. And it really comes down to you're trying to — the difficult part here is I'm trying to marry metrics that my customer cares about with metrics that my employees care about, with metrics that my stakeholders and shareholders care about.
Wayne McCulloch (32:09):
And so, you've got the difficult challenge of working out what are the metrics that drive each of those three that can align at some point throughout the organization to ensure I can do all three. And so, whether that's profitability is really, really important. Well, I could do that in two ways.
Wayne McCulloch (32:26):
I can cut costs, cut five people, close brand, I could do all that sort of stuff and make a profit. Or I can work out what the most profitable products are that we offer and work out a strategy on how to get adoption in my current client base to adopt more of that while bringing new clients in and attracting them to the bank. That can also drive profitability.
Wayne McCulloch (32:46):
Well, one's really easy and one's really hard, and it's pretty obvious when you look at organizations, which one they ear towards. And so, for me, it's really understanding what are the key metrics across those three constituents, your client base, your employee base, and your shareholders and stakeholders. What are those metrics?
Wayne McCulloch (33:04):
And being able to map them out, and then make sure that whatever processes you've got in place to go drive those outcomes are aligned. And that's what customer experience is all about. How do I align those three things together?
Jim Marous (33:16):
So, finally, what are two or three examples of organizations that you really believe are getting this right, at least more than the normal range of organizations. And then finally, on the other side of that is, what stands in the way of financial institutions achieving that high level?
Wayne McCulloch (33:38):
I think to answer the second part of the question, it's just vision. That's all it is. I got a real example here. I went into my traditional bank I've been with for 15 years, and I went into their branch and they had a coffee machine and some cookies. And I'm like, "Good for you for trying to shake it up."
Wayne McCulloch (33:57):
And I said to the person, I'm like, "Oh, is this free?" And they're like, "Yeah, we make this available to all our customers who come in because you're sitting there and you're waiting and you want to have a coffee, and we want to make the experience more enjoyable."
Wayne McCulloch (34:10):
And I'm thinking kudos to you for trying, that's the first thing. The second thing though is you're addressing the wrong problem. So, what they're saying is, because you're here and waiting-
Jim Marous (34:21):
You have to wait.
Wayne McCulloch (34:22):
We're going to give you coffee and biscuits. And I'm like, "Why don't you solve the problem of me waiting and getting me in and out?" Because that time factor is so critical. Then I went into a credit union here in Colorado called Canvas Credit Union.
Wayne McCulloch (34:36):
I walked in, person met with me immediately, "What do you need?" I answered them, they said, "Cool, let me show you over here to my personal suite." I'm like, "What's a personal suite?" And they opened it up and there's a couch and the pot plan, big screen TV, it looks like a living room with a person.
Wayne McCulloch (34:51):
And I go in there and I sit down and I'm like "Should I lie on the couch and tell you my problem?" I don't know what's going on because I'm like, "How is this even a financial institution?"
Wayne McCulloch (34:59):
And the person starts asking me questions about what I was looking for and he's showing his screen on the big television. So, it is not like he's behind the keyboard tapping the, I think it's Meet the Fockers where the airline agent at the gate are tapping incessantly and you're like, "I don't know what's happening."
Wayne McCulloch (35:15):
Like I'm seeing everything, nothing was hidden, it was very transparent. I was in this great environment, very relaxing, had a great conversation, felt like I would invite him to my wedding if I wasn't married already. Just made all really quickly, and then I left.
Wayne McCulloch (35:29):
And I'm just like that is an amazing experience that I don't have at the other place that had coffee and biscuits. And so, for me, I'm like just vision. Think about the experience and what you want it to be, what the person needs it to be. And so I think that's a really important factor.
Wayne McCulloch (35:47):
But one of my favorite stories about customer centricity was I was at the Denver airport and I was flying somewhere and went through Clear, and I had to wait for, I don't know, 10 minutes. And I'm like, "This is weird, I'm paying an extra fee to get this expedited through the airport and still I'm waiting."
Wayne McCulloch (36:02):
And so they sent me a survey and I gave them a pretty bad score. Within one hour, the manager from that location reached out to me and said, "I'm really sorry for what happened. Here's what happened, person called in sick. We have not planned for what happens when someone calls in sick. We have now decided to put a protocol in place to have a backup emergency person, blah, blah, blah." Went through this whole explanation of what happened.
Wayne McCulloch (36:28):
And said, "If you ever wait again, here's my personal cell phone. Call me, I'll jump on it. Do whatever I can to help you." And I'm like, "That's amazing customer service." It's personalized to me, it heard what I said and explain to me what happened. So, I'm not off telling everyone how bad Clear is. I'm like, "Oh yeah, they probably should have done better."
Wayne McCulloch (36:47):
Let's hope they do better next time, sounds like they've got it in hand. I'm not getting mad about it now. I'm just like, yeah, that happens too. People get sick at work, at least now they're aware and they've got a plan to fix it. And so, for me, you do the same as a bank, as a financial institution when someone's upset about something, care about it because that person's going to tell others and so on and so on.
Wayne McCulloch (37:07):
And so, at the end of the day, I feel like having a vision of what you want the experience to be and being able to measure where you're at any point in time and take action at that point, that's what's most critical.
Jim Marous (37:19):
It's interesting, you bring up that example, and I have a similar example that people on the podcast have heard some of it at different points, but basically, I had a not satisfactory experience with Delta Airlines. And that's unusual for me because they do a really, really good job almost all the time.
Jim Marous (37:34):
But I had a first real problem in my travels from overseas and I realized it wasn't going well, and I reached out to different channels. I reached out to the chat bot, it was not satisfactory. I reached out online, that was not good. I elevated what I consider elevating it to social media, the response was less than expected. And then I just sent an email and hoped to hear back from them.
Jim Marous (37:58):
The first thing the person did that got back to me, they called instead of emailing, and they said, "We realized you've been all over all of our customer service channels. I want to apologize because we're not doing a really good job of bringing these together the way we should. We're really working on making it so you don't have to restate your problem every time."
Jim Marous (38:18):
So, they nailed what my issue was. And then they gave me an extraordinarily positive result to my problem. They gave me a refund and I wasn't expecting that. But the reality is, what really stuck more than anything else was the way they reached out and recognized, "We don't have it right yet, but we're working on it." And that left a better impression.
Jim Marous (38:40):
And as a result, I have told a whole lot more people about the positive experience from my negative experience, and given kudos to Delta for at least continually to get things better. And I think as customers, we know what's possible now because especially in financial institutions, we know how much information is being held. The challenge is if you never use it, it doesn't do me any good.
Jim Marous (39:09):
I use this saying, the customer wants you to know me, understand me, and reward me. And that reward me doesn't mean points. It may not even be a financial remuneration. What it is, it's reward me by knowing and doing something about it, doing that final mile.
Jim Marous (39:24):
Wayne, it has been great to have you on the show. I'm going to have you back. We're going to talk more and more about the different pillars, but even more about what you are seeing in the marketplace as you work with Alkami to visit clients, to do things both internally to Alkami, but externally to make it so that when you're implementing new solutions from Alkami, you're actually improving the customer experience as opposed to simply changing things.
Jim Marous (39:50):
So, again, thank you so much for being on the show.
Wayne McCulloch (39:55):
Alright, Jim, thanks for having me. I look forward to our next conversation. Cheers, mate.
Jim Marous (40:00):
Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. We appreciate the support we've received to make this endeavor a success. If you enjoy what we're doing, please take some time to show some love in the form of a review.
Jim Marous (40:14):
This has been the production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our senior producer, Leah Haslage, audio engineer, Chris Fafalios, and video producer Will Pritts.
Jim Marous (40:25):
If you've not already done so, remember to subscribe to Banking Transformed on both your favorite podcast app and on YouTube for more thought-provoking discussions on the intersection of finance, technology, and leadership.
Jim Marous (40:40):
And as our guest today says, "Customer adoption is achieving operational dependence while simultaneously achieving business value by using the right features and functionality for the solution."