How does the diversity of your team affect their output and synergy? In today’s episode, I chat with Leslie McNamara, who is the Chief Marketing Officer and Managing Director in workforce development at Citi Retail Services. In her role, Leslie merges workforce development with marketing, working directly with retailers.
Leslie’s work involves partnering with stores that have chosen Citi as their private label and/or co-brand card provider. She and her team ensure that the customer experience journey and shopper experience is reflective of the retailer’s brand and ethos. In this insightful episode, Leslie and I chat about team development and the importance of getting your house in order to bring the utmost value to your clients and partners.
Good Customer Experience Starts With Your Internal Culture
Citi Retail Services forms an integrated and close relationship with brands that are carefully managed and curated. This is done to ensure that the customer experience is holistic to the brand that they’re serving. Leslie and her team have to be very deliberate in bringing assets and teams together to ensure the in-store and digital experience aligns with the customer journey.
Leslie explains that at Citi Retail Services, they were facing challenges in customizing marketing programs for each client. They needed to do so in a way that was less wasteful of resources and more efficient. She had to shift gears to focus on process management in order to standardize the underpinnings of the process. This meant that she had to determine the critical marketing technology investments needed, so they could deliver at scale to the partners.
Improve Processes That Are Within Your Control
Leslie shares that she worked with her team to determine the right solution and technologies that could be common across all of their partners; then customize as needed. She spent time communicating how everyone’s roles will be redefined during this process. According to Leslie, it was important that her team members understood the larger part they play in the journey of delivering value to a client. This required an internal culture change.
By starting within, Leslie shares that they focused on improving processes internally. So they put efforts towards things that were within their control, like joint forecasting, building budgets together, and best practices sharing. It was important that they had synergy on the home front first.
Understand How Team Diversity, or Lack Thereof, Affects Your Work
Such a large undertaking, of course, requires leadership to be on board. Leslie shares that her C-Suite was on board with the transformation because it meant improvements were made to the way client-facing services were handled. She stresses that communication with appropriate frequency helped the C-Suite understand the rationale behind the new process and that she would seek their input and perspective on getting the work done.
Leslie realized that it was critical for her to think through biases that appear during the shopping experience. She shares that she realized her own race, age, and gender had an effect on her purchasing journey, and this was a perception that she needed her team to be aware of as well. They needed to recognize their own biases. She explains that how we experience shopping and payments is very different according to our demographics, and the teams’ understanding of this in building journeys is critical.
In this interview, Leslie made a point about businesses needing to understand and own the importance of diversity in hiring methods. That this is something that needs to go beyond the recognition of the Human Resources department. Leslie explains that she realized just how homogenous many of her work teams were. She shares that she aims to be more deliberate about bringing diverse perspectives to the table. The goal is to create a customer journey that would be broad enough in its appeal.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“I wish I had known then how the divergence in career experiences would make me a better marketer and would make me a better manager. That coloring outside of the lines, taking more risks, expanding my personal skillset, getting uncomfortable with learning new things or having experiences that didn’t feel core to my career, would actually end up being incredibly core to my personal development and career.”
About Leslie McNamara
Prior to joining Citi, Leslie held positions with CoreStates Financial Corp, Mellon Bank, Qwest Interactive, and Proctor & Gamble. She joined Citi in 2002 and held a number of portfolio management, marketing, and customer engagement positions. Leslie helped guide the company and clients through the economic downturn and a period of regulatory changes before accepting her current role in 2011. In her current role, Leslie provides oversight for Citi Retail Services’ private label and co-brand credit card programs and leads a team that works closely with retailer partners.
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