How CMO Leadership is Expanding to Include Both Marketing and Customer Experience Transformation – CB81


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How do you drive transformation in the highly regulated financial industry? In my conversation with Isabella Lau, who has held the hybrid role of both CMO & CCO at Manulife Hong Kong for over 7 years, we discuss this emerging expanded role, how Isabella is driving both brand, operational, and cultural leadership – and why her unique background in both operations and marketing prepared her for success.

Unite the C-Suite to Transform Company Culture to be Customer-Driven

HOW CMO LEADERSHIP IS EXPANDING TO INCLUDE BOTH MARKETING AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATIONAs the CMO/CCO, Isabella worked with the C-Suite to focus on gathering and leveraging customer data to transform the culture into one that cares more about improving the lives of its customers. With its large customer base, Manulife Hong Kong focused on putting the customer at the center of everything it does. Building long-term customer relationships are very high priorities of the company.

A great gem that Isabella shared was that uniting the C-suite is a big part of this role; identify who your allies are early on and jump on the opportunity to work with and involve them in the process. Isabella stated that by understanding the CEO’s appetite for speed and investment, she was able to take this momentous transformation and break it down into smaller tasks and projects with people who had passion and advocacy.

By understanding the CEO’s appetite for speed and investment, you can take this momentous #CX transformation and break it down into smaller tasks and projects with people who have passion and advocate for its success. Click To Tweet

She also shares a yearly breakdown of the CX transformation process that she endured:

Year 1 in role: Prioritize and establish goals and expectations. Understand the CEO’s priorities and what KPIs he wants the CCO to measure and achieve. Gauge their appetite for investment and the timeframe for transformation so you can establish a baseline. Start getting quick wins and establish partnerships with early adopters. Talk to a lot of people – primarily the C-Suite because they hold a lot of power.

Year 2 and 3: Bring in key capabilities and resources, like insights and analytics teams. Start to look for signature projects; the website revamp was a big one. Isabella and her team revamped the company’s outdated website so that it was user friendly and mobile responsive. They used insights to build navigation and concept to align to customer prospects and needs. Made it short, easy, and simple to understand. It was important that they picked one project that was complex and visual.

Year 4 and 5: Put together a CRM team and by then, the analytics teams were there, which increased customer data mining. Rolled out programs to increase upsell and cross-sell, and ran retention programs as well. Now Isabella’s team is more proactive in using data, understanding customer engagement, and solving problems that erode value.

Year 6+ – Introduction of NPS and internal marketing of success. Adoption of the NPS as the primary tool to drive cultural change equipped the front line and operations people with access to listen to customer feedback, identify pain points, and thus – take actions to improve. During this time, be sure to celebrate others who’ve contributed to the success of the CX program, as it adds credibility to the process; this celebration can be contagious and motivates others.

During your #CX implementation, celebrate others who’ve contributed to the success of the program. It adds internal credibility to the process; this celebration can be contagious and motivate more team members. Click To Tweet

What Do You Know NOW That You Wish You Knew Then?


  • I wish I did the internal marketing earlier; it’s so important. You and the C-Suite may know about the program’s success, but you have to influence the other houses in the story and you need to convey this quicker.
  • Leverage more external partners to work with us more, not just your internal teams.  Partnering with external partners helps us get an understanding of the trends out there and would allow us to understand best practices and learn much earlier.

About Isabella Lau

Isabella Lau CCO CMO Manulife Hong KongIsabella Lau is Chief Customer Officer, Manulife (International) Limited, responsible for Marketing, Customer Relationship Management, Corporate Communications, Innovation and Customer Experience functions, as well as leading the Company’s effort in customer centricity.  She also plays a key role in strengthening Manulife’s brand through its marketing, media relations and corporate social-responsibility efforts. Ms Lau is a member of Manulife’s senior management team in Hong Kong.

Ms Lau has over 20 years’ experience in general management, sales and marketing management in the financial-services industry. She has held senior management roles with Standard Chartered Bank’s credit-card business and was regional head for New Customer Acquisition at American Express.

As I continue to interview customer experience leaders, I’m noticing a pattern in some shared experiences and want to reiterate the importance of the following: unite the C-suite for their support and understanding of the CX transformation, find small/quick wins early on and market its success, check your ego at the door for the benefit of everyone, and get as close to customer feedback as possible i.e – sometimes you have to go beyond the sales team and directly to the customer.

What other common CX transformations have you noticed? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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