From CX Initiative to CX Transformation – how one company embraced customer centricity


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At the CXPA CX Day event in London earlier this week, we heard a compelling case study, delivered by the worthy 2016 CX Award Winner, Old Mutual Wealth. It both touched and impressed me and others attending. The story was eloquently and warmly told by Christina, who heads up Old Mutual Wealth’s (OMW) Customer Experience for them.

Old Mutual Wealth is a pension and investment business in the UK. Its purpose is to create prosperity for the generations of today and tomorrow. The group has been around for 172 years.

Christina passionately narrated the tale of what started life as a customer facing initiative of hers, established to “make customers happy”. It was named ‘Magical Moments’. What struck me is that it has since evolved into much more than that – arguably into a full scale CX transformation programme across the business, by accident rather than by design.


What is ‘Magical Moments’? OMW realised that it was failing some of its customers when they needed them most. They were letting some customers down. To make amends, they hit on the idea of creating ‘Magical Moments’ for selected customers. When a member of staff interacts with a customer and they feel that they are really in need of a surprise or an unexpected reward, they nominate them. The business then decides how and what they can do within an allotted budget.

OMW wanted to take the time and trouble to listen to their customers, to appreciate what their customers need from them and to understand them on a personal and more emotional level. They sought to put a smile on the faces of their customers, and to be the reason for that smile. ‘Magical Moments’ appears to make recipients feel special and valued – with a similar intent akin to other ‘wow’ type programmes like that of Ritz Carlton but with a more restricted budget.

good day coffee To give an idea of what these moments are like, without disclosing anything potentially sensitive, they range from providing a month’s worth of food to a customer whilst they are ill, sending personalised memorabilia in a goodie box to another customer that is specific to an interest or life event of theirs, or a treat in a box for the beloved pet of another customer, whilst they themselves are feeling under the weather. The point is they are all unexpected. They are all unique and prove that OMW has been listening. Customers are demonstrably taken aback that someone at the end of the phone “in this day and age” was actually paying attention! These gestures all create a moment of joy for a customer.

The point being that OMW is attentive and cares enough to listen. They proactively match the customer to an appropriate and relevant ‘moment’ based on what they have heard and learnt. Each ‘Magical Moment’ is unique to an individual customer. 

Why does it strike me as more than random or unexpected acts of kindness for a bunch of customers? This inventive initiative delivers on many more levels. It has had an unintentional ripple effect on the whole organisation.  

I can draw synergies with our 5 Principles for Customer Experience Excellence.

1) Value your Customer
OMW has not only given joy to its customers but in return it has gained invaluable insight & understanding about them as a proxy or sample of its wider customer base. The insight that they have gained has also tapped in to the emotion of its customers in a sensitive way.

OMW has managed to do this through listening on a one to one basis to customers, not through an expensive programme of customer research and it has been delivered through their own contact centre staff. They are beginning to understand better what their customers need from them above and beyond the transaction or product and at key moments in their journey.

2) Establish an Experience Roadmap
By taking time to listen to customers and understand them better, OMW has learnt how they can put a smile on customers’ faces; but they have also learnt what doesn’t. OMW has heard examples of pain and frustration that has been caused inadvertently. As a result, the business has sought to find ways of improving, optimising and simplifying parts of their Customer Experience.

At a broader level, it has also forced them to consider how they should be supporting their customers further, in a way that adds greater value to customers, for example with more proactive support where it might be needed. The ‘Magical Moments’ activity appears to have led to greater alignment with internal delivery processes to the advantage of customers.

3) Build a Customer Centric Culture
‘Magical Moments’ began life as a customer enterprise, but it has become much more than that. It has become a triumph in employee engagement.

Customer facing employees are empowered and feel that they are an integral part of the decision-making and delivery of ‘Magical Moments’. As one contact centre agent said, “it makes customers feel real”.

Listening to the members of the OMW contact centre staff, they didn’t sound like they were just doing a job; they had genuine passion for the customer (and the company). They sounded proud. ‘Magical Moments’ has had a really positive impact on the team with comments such as “you can truly change lives”.

This cultural shift has involved buy in from the top. The OMW CEO has shown commitment to the initiative above and beyond what might be expected and on a personal level.

Not to mention, the personal ownership, dogged championing and passionate evangelising of the CX by Christina, who is clearly respected within the wider organisation. A true CX leader in my mind.

The whole organisation has been engaged in delivery of ‘Magical Moments’ and in the customer ‘cause’. Let’s hope they can retain this enthusiasm and momentum.

4) Give the Business Control
OMW has a governance structure in place whereby they review, monitor and prioritise activity.

They also take the feedback & learning from customers and share these very human stories. They share the customer joy and they share team members’ contribution in creating that joy.

OMW cannot reward any complainants for regulatory reasons. What they can do though is create a clear line of sight and plan to integrate data and insights so that this customer learning and feedback is more rounded and actionable.

The impact of ‘Magical Moments’ is tracked through nps and the number of complaints for the period as well as how many joyful moments and cherished memories that have been created.

5) Embrace Technology as an Enabler
This is probably the one principle where there is less correlation with our CX principles. OMW has seen where it can alleviate some CX pain and reduce customer effort – which may be enabled or automated by technology. ‘Magical Moments’ has been more about creating moments of happiness for customers on a human level.

Sometimes, change and customer experience optimisation is about baby steps. Sometimes, small steps can result in bigger leaps, or compounded marginal gains. For some organisations, this is a more realistic and successful approach than the implementation of a big CX transformation programme with a well-constructed business case, where the results may be similar in the end. This is not to say that ‘Magical Moments’ didn’t take hard work, time and effort to get off the ground in the first place, but it started small and has grown into something that has had greater impact and a longer legacy than was anticipated. Sometimes it’s better to simply focus on making customers happy, then smiling companies follow.

What about the future for OMW? Perhaps there is an opportunity now that the organisation is engaged to ‘do’ customer ‘good’; to look at the wider end to end customer journey, at the interplay of human and digital, for consistent delivery of the basics and the injection of moments of delight, wherever they touch the customer.

Sometimes, we all need to remember that:

The most important things in life aren’t things.

– Anthony J. DeAngelo (American Writer).

They are moments.

Amanda Davis

Amanda writes and shares Thought Leadership, drawing on her 15 years of coaching, guiding, mentoring and consulting for clients in various sectors and sizes around the world. She helps establish organisations understand how to connect to customers; find ways to align their expectations with the culture & capability of the organisation. She has a particular focus on customer experience transformation in the digital age, ensuring that technology development starts and finishes with the customer. Amanda has been a regular featured columnist and advisor for Customer Think since 2018.


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