Monday, November 14, 2016

Six Leads for Getting Customers on Your Side





Petra Mengelt
Director, Customer Experience 
Euroloan Group Plc






Think of this article as an intense training session where there is no PowerPoint show, instead there is an energetic woman standing right up front. With a marker in her hand and a relatively interesting drawing right behind her that makes sense only to people present. She is involving the audience, her mind jumping up and down as in a game of tennis. There are short stories flipped around, things you may actually be able to remember.

What is she saying about customers? She is a strong believer in a can do-spirit that is immediately apparent at her company, a rapidly growing international FinTech group, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland. A couple of years ago they said they were going to challenge the business; these days, they are doing it. 

The woman you are imagining giving you a training session is me, Petra Mengelt, a customer experience director at Euroloan Group PLC. I want to challenge the traditional online banking service and instead provide a personal, digital experience, one that customers remember and are willing to recommend. I have over fifteen years of lean management experience in the aerospace and metals industry, as well as entrepreneurship and customer service management experience in the USA and in Europe.

For over a decade, I have trained hundreds of people, from entry level employees all the way to board members on how to improve their attitude. I have also tried to provide all my audiences with a broader understanding of the importance  and value of working throughout the organization to achieve the same goals. Currently, I have my hands full with the group’s new financial technology company, Jolt Bank. I am creating a world class customer experience for great customers-to-be. One must be fearless as every pilot and development project confronts us with unexpected challenges with no ready answers, and there is no standard hand book of ready answers to follow. 

Now, I will give you six leads into winning customers to your side. So, listen carefully. I believe that sharing our vision and listening to customer feedback carefully can spice things up. Dull is never exciting, hence the opposite. This is why customer experience success needs a recipe! And did you know, our recipe is not a secret. We encourage you to come along and bring your appetite for success.

MOTIVATION 

Everything starts with motivation. Whatever it is that you do, do it with passion and attention to quality. If you are truly interested in something, half of what you do is purely your enthusiasm, your attitude. However, now comes the “but” part: being just casually interested in something is not enough these days. 

TRAINING

Nothing works efficiently with mediocre minds. Do not let the trends overtake you. When an enterprise has people with a known capacity level serving the customer, we must understand that each employee needs support with the best tools and training material available. As change is constant, new opportunities arrive at an increasing rate and threaten to pass left and right: unless we grab the next opportunity to make new growth, we may as well count ourselves out. How an agent, for instance, deals with a customer, with what attitude and approach, how the know-how and competence are aligned, makes the difference today. I want to see smiles even at 2am in the morning. We run in a 24/7 world for all of our customers.

DELETE BUTTON

I work with our customers and their feedback. I tell everyone to share the information. Why? Because it may be that one little piece of information that you think is not that important, may connect things into “this makes sense now” for someone else. And, it should be relatively easy to push that delete button if you did not need to know something. 

I also network across borders and throughout our business disciplines. I love to hear what’s new in international circles, form the hottest new luxury brand’s mind-set straight through to the largest European investment banks’ customer experience. Oftentimes the best ideas come to you from unexpected quarters. 

MAKING MISTAKES

Assumptions are sometimes necessary to move forward with a project, but if those assumptions are without solid basis they will lead to mistakes and incorrect decisions.  If we are afraid of making any mistakes ever, we become too careful, and that is not good either, is it? Let’s forget about titles: instead in a start up, everyone has the opportunity to lead the orchestra, be a detective, a housekeeper, a runner, a listener, and even a mother at times. Be aware and understand the little nuances in people and help them to achieve their best results. It can be quite challenging to accustom one’s self to the idea that there are no ready answers.  The start-up world brings a tremendous amount of empowerment.

INVOLVING

I am an advocate of involving all organizational layers to participate in customer experience. To understand customer centricity is not only connecting the service to customers, but making everyone at the company responsible for the result.  “This is not my responsibility, I don’t know how” is something I am not willing to listen to. Instead, I challenge you to ask: “Please, teach me how!” 

Customer experience is an interesting function because in the end it touches on all company functions from employees, to customers and management, to investors. Effective customer experience leadership demands a dynamic voice to communicate the journey to all affected parties. Customer experience is also about how our employees experience the work they do. Think of it as this way: when one has fun at work, and on top of that, one is also motivated, a better outcome is inevitable. Happy employees generate better ideas, that is just a fact.

A LITTLE FUN

Euroloan currently renewed their five-year strategy, where they concluded that their employees should feel excited about the coming work week, already on the Sunday evening. The idea is to engage the workforce from the office staff to the top, and create an inspired and inspiring workplace, with an energy that customers can feel. I believe that I can give the European world of fintech banking a little bit of that American “great wonderful” spice: we merely need to Europeanize it first. Every customer contact is an opportunity to create an emotional trigger.

HARD WORK

In the end, there is no secret, it is all about hard work. Give the full one hundred percent, do not multi task and be present. And dare to say no if you cannot do it. My nine-year-old daughter, Sara, just interrupted me a few weeks back and said something that made me think. She said, as nicely as a child can, in a matter of a fact voice, “Mom, can you please look me in the eye when you talk to me and not play with your phone while we are trying to have a conversation?”

Based on continuously measured customer satisfaction surveys, Euroloan has been able to build up customer experience to double digit percentages. In commonly measured surveys of satisfaction, Euroloan finds itself almost without peer in the online banking industry, posting satisfaction levels that the likes of major names in Europe would envy.

Petra Mengelt is the Head of Customer Experience at Jolt Bank, an organization dedicated to identifying the real needs of customers and building trusted relationships with customers. She is passionate about involving all organizational layers to participate in the customer experience journey and believes that customer experience doesn’t function via a rigid top-down command structure; rather, greater results are achieved when one empowers employees to influence the results.  She puts a high emphasis on challenging traditional banking by well done, world class digital customer experience. 

Petra is also the Director of Customer Experience at Euroloan Group Plc, in Finland where she is responsible for the customer experience throughout the customer journey. She  has led Euroloan Consumer Finance’s customer experience for the past five years. Prior to entering the world of financial innovation, she worked in the aerospace and metals industries in the US and Europe. She is also an entrepreneur. Petra invites you to join her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter @petrataan










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