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Case study description

Case study description

The case study concerns a financial services organization that undertook a strategic review and decided that it needed to reinvigorate the brand. With the previous case study we focused on gaining internal alignment to the organizational service. This case study takes a different perspective. The key focus of this rebranding exercise was the external marketing of the products and services on offer, and the way that customer-facing staff represented the brand. This is best illustrated by Wasmer and Bruner’s research (1991) which maps the relationship flows between the customer, the organization and the customer service provider (see Figure 7.2). They saw the major constituents of their brand as:

  • marketing communications;

  • products on offer;

  • speed of service;

  • quality of service.

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Figure 7.2: Map of relationship flows between the customer, the organization and the customer service provider
Source: Wasmer and Bruner (1991)

As a result of the strategic review the organization decided that the key to its competitive advantage was the way in which its customer-facing employees transacted with customers and potential customers. They were referring to not just the usual types of customer service behaviour such as greeting, courtesy and complaint handling but also the ways that the brand itself was being portrayed. The customer does not just receive communication from the organization in terms of its marketing and its goods. It also receives information via the customer service providers.

To focus more clearly on its target audience, the organization segmented its potential customer market into four quadrants based on their interest in financial services and their level of self-knowledge of financial needs and potential solutions. One quadrant of the market was generally knowledgeable and sophisticated. Another quadrant had a high interest in the financial area of their lives but relatively little knowledge. The third quadrant had a reasonable knowledge base but this was not accompanied by any great level of interest. The final quadrant had little interest and little knowledge (see Figure 7.3).

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Figure 7.3: Segmentation of financial services customers

This segmentation generated a number of questions:

  • What type of advice was best suited to each quadrant?

  • Did the organization want to deliver that sort of advice?

  • What was the organizational capability to deliver that advice (profitably)?

  • Could the organization be developed to bridge any gaps?

The areas that showed most promise were those potential customers who either were interested in investing in their financial future but needed help in negotiating their way through the financial maze, or did not have the interest but wanted someone to do it for them, and do it well. These were the ‘Show it to me!’ and ‘Do it for me!’ customers.

Although those in the High–High quadrant were generally high net worth individuals, the people who fell into that category wanted a high level of service but were also more liable to shift their savings and investments from one financial institution to another fairly frequently. The Low–Low quadrant likewise required a high level of support but did not necessarily have the available funds to warrant that level of investment from the organization.

Once the primary focus for business development opportunities had been established, the next stage was to decide what sorts of things needed to happen for customer needs to be satisfied. This included outlining the behaviours and attitudes that customer-facing staff (and those back-office staff supporting them) needed to exhibit. Key areas included the ability to generate interest, to establish credibility, to have clarity of communication and to be proactive to customer needs.

The reorientation of the company to this particular strategy included the generation of a new set of company values. These values were not just a list of slogans but were translated into behavioural statements. These statements defined the preferred way of operating in the business and indeed also became part of the recruitment process.

The values were not only ‘nice-to-have’ or ‘motherhood and apple pie’, but were designed to align people within the organization to the company strategy and the preferred behaviours. So for example a value of ‘treat people well’ was translated into making people feel they are your number one priority, and treating all customers and each other with respect. The value of ‘say it as it is’ was translated into talking to customers and colleagues in a straightforward manner. These behaviours could be verified by observation or customer feedback. They could also be learnt.

Of course to get to the stage where frontline staff behaved in accordance with company strategy required other enabling actions, which were drawn from best practice and appropriate models of individual, team and organizational change

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