This Customer Culture Programme encourages all colleagues, regardless of where they sit in the organisation, to recognise the vital role they play in delivering for the millions of customers who use our products and services every day.
Fast forward a year and I do not think any of us could have predicted the situation we find ourselves in today, experiencing a global pandemic that has had major consequences for all of us. However, it is in ‘stressed’ situations like this, that the way a business looks after its customers comes into sharp focus, exposing what is in the DNA of every organisation, good or bad.
When it comes to customer values, I don’t know of a single business that doesn’t claim to be customer-focused, but how many can truly demonstrate this? If your approach is simply used for boosting marketing material, or as a tick box exercise, rather than impacting every element of your business, then you need to rethink. While at BGL we are proud of the way we place our customers at the heart of our organisation, the purpose of our programme was not to simply highlight the positives but rather, it was created as a platform to allow us to share best practice and make decisions through a customer lens. From time to time, challenging ourselves to ask the difficult questions with a specific goal in mind can prove illuminating.
BGL’s Customer Principles, born out of our strong values, are a simple tool for colleagues to use within their roles, helping to ensure consistently good outcomes. The Customer Principles consist of four questions:
- Would our customers understand the reason for the approach?
- Would you be happy if a friend or family were to experience this?
- Would you champion the approach externally?
- Does it align to our values?
What an organisation’s culture says about it – especially during times of crisis
While these questions are evident every day within our customer-facing teams, they have also been debated many times over the past year across all areas of the organisation from Product Development and Pricing, right through to our Technology, Compliance and Finance teams.
More recently, the Principles have been a useful tool for some of the decisions we’ve taken for customers during the pandemic. For example, the Principles, as well as our overall business values, helped to shape our thinking when it came to the changes we needed to implement quickly for ‘blue light’ frontline healthcare workers in our Insurance, Distribution and Outsourcing (IDO) business. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been able to offer additional support for NHS staff, volunteers and emergency services workers by providing replacement vehicles, as well as offering additional protection to those who do not currently have breakdown cover as part of their policy. More widely, these Principles helped to guide our Lending Support Team as they navigated through many hundreds of conversations with customers who were sadly experiencing financial difficulties as a consequence of the pandemic.
From a product perspective, we found ourselves having to make decisions very quickly due to the continually evolving nature of the pandemic and the relevance of certain products. Again, our Customer Principles steered these decisions and while they may have felt rapid, making them against the framework of our Principles and values ensured we were doing it with the customer in mind. For example, on comparethemarket.com, our price comparison website, we worked with our partners to pause the selling of travel insurance policies during the travel bans before switching this journey back on when the Government advice changed. This had a significant commercial impact, however, it was vital to us that any product we sold during this time would meet our customers’ needs.
Similarly, we realised at the start of this pandemic that our comparethemarket.com Meerkat Rewards programme would be unusable for customers due to cinemas and restaurants having to close their doors. With the Principles in mind, we were able to very quickly introduce a pivot strategy to our programme and launch new options that we knew customers could take advantage of during this time, as well unilaterally extending customer’s membership of the programme. All have been well-received at a time when many people simply want reassurance that the brands they use, have their best interests at heart.
There are many more examples of how our Customer Culture Programme has been embedded into our business but fundamentally, our approach is clear – put customers at the heart of our strategy and culture. Ultimately, we are all customers, and this provides a strong basis for any decision making; however, the Principles simply provide a way for us to continually reinforce this.
With a customer focused culture, it’s no surprise that the Principles have been well received, but we still have a long way to go. They are used well and consistently in many areas and we continually strive to find new ways to use them, keeping them front of mind until they become truly embedded over time. I appreciate the Principles are not radical, or even unique to BGL, and it could even be argued that lots of what we have done would have been done anyway. But, the power of our Principles not only empowers colleagues to always advocate for the best outcome, it also raises the volume across BGL on the great stuff we are delivering for our customers. In these challenging times, this is definitely worth celebrating.