Service Transformation

How Nationwide put customers at the heart of their organisation

Companies are employing customer experience strategies and tapping into what customers want. The result? An increase in the UK PLC score for customer experience excellence for the first time in three years.

by David Conway (contact)
5 minute read

Acting immediately on customer feedback can make the difference between transforming a negative experience into a positive one, or pushing disappointed customers to a competitor. However, while most companies invest heavily in voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives, these rarely bring about the necessary organisational change.

Nationwide Building Society was committed to bucking that trend, but the time lag between data collection and visibility of insights was interfering with the company's goal of taking immediate action to make things right for customers. Customer exit interviews showed that in some cases service was falling short of expectations, while customer satisfaction research underlined that customers were looking for simple and clear processes, along with the opportunity to talk to someone who understood their needs and showed willingness to help.

To become the banking sector’s top provider for customer experience and differentiate itself from competitors, Nationwide needed to listen to customers, understand their needs and act fast to resolve customer issues while they still mattered. Customer journey analysis showed that having real-time insights was crucial for Nationwide to become an agile responder in measuring customer satisfaction, but the building society also needed a deep understanding of customer needs and expectations, making the analysis of open-ended responses essential. We needed to help Nationwide develop a VoC system that would drive organisational change by delivering the right customer information to the right people, at the right time.

Because of its ability to process perception data as soon as a customer interaction takes place and make it available to decision-makers within a short time, KPMG Nunwood's Fizz: Voice of the Customer software was the right fit for Nationwide. The system captures customer feedback alongside operational data and provides actionable insights that allow companies to identify root causes of problems and act on them quickly, making the organisation more customer-oriented. Furthermore, real-time alerts and touchpoint mapping put business leaders and frontline colleagues in the best position to take immediate action and address problems. The alerts, triggered whenever a customer is unhappy, allow for a call back within 24 hours.

As well as flagging problems, Fizz also identifies success stories, allowing the organisation to iterate best practices.

In order to be most effective, Nationwide couldn't adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. It was imperative that each branch or division was able to identify issues specific to itself and prioritise what really matters. By providing bespoke reports to local teams, it was possible for those teams to resolve localised issues. These included a branch refurbishment initiative and addressing queue problems at certain branches. Based on insight from customer feedback, Nationwide strove to equip contact centre agents with more information, driving first contact resolution. Furthermore, the ability of branches to see their own data and compare it with that of other branches promoted the sharing of best practices.

Research by Ofcom found that more than 40 percent of British adults use the internet for their banking needs every week, while 44 percent of smartphone users use their devices for online banking. This makes having an excellent experience over mobile and web an absolute necessity. Customer feedback, however, revealed a lack of engagement with both the website and mobile app, making improvements essential. The site, for example, was transformed from a sales-driven channel to one focused on helping customers with their life decisions, while online calculators, which customers were struggling with, were improved.

A robust VoC program is essential to improve practices and increase customer satisfaction. But while the programme has been an enabler for CX improvement, it is not the whole answer. The Voice of the Customer system dovetailed into a range of other initiatives undertaken by Nationwide, including the re-engineering of back office processes and implementing a CRM system. Before rolling out the VoC initiative, Nationwide prepared the ground with a thorough training programme focused on problem solving, improving processes and managing customer issues at first point of contact. Every part of the organisation was focused on what needed to be done to improve the customer experience.

Within the first year, insight-driven actions led to a 12 percent overall improvement in customer satisfaction, with the biggest leap – 31 percent – seen in call centre interactions. Satisfaction rates are still very high; in June, call centres saw a satisfaction rate of 91 percent, while 94 percent of customers said they were quite or extremely satisfied with branch and internet banking.

The next step in Nationwide's customer-centred improvement strategy is to focus on the omni channel customer experience. This will require an understanding of the pattern or sequence of steps customers take across multiple channels to achieve their objective.

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