Karen Sawyer, Head of Customer Loyalty & Growth, Canadian Commercial Banking, Bank of Montreal, discussed what it takes for organizations to increase their customer loyalty levels during her keynote presentation to Argyle's CX membership at the 2017 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in Toronto on March 30. In her presentation, "Simplify Your Loyalty Building Blocks," Sawyer offered insights into how organizations can bolster their customer loyalty levels as well as foster a client-centered approach with employees.
According to Sawyer, how an organization evaluates its Net Promoter Score (NPS) may dictate its immediate and long-term success.
Ultimately, NPS is a key driver of customer loyalty improvements and defines customer loyalty on a scale of 1 to 10.
Sawyer described how NPS scoring works:
- 0-6: Customers who rate a company in this range actually detract from an organization's customer loyalty levels.
- 7-8: In this range, customers feel neutral about an organization.
- 9-10: Customers are active promoters of an organization and will help the organization boost its customer loyalty levels.
An organization may receive an NPS score than falls in a range of -100 to 100, Sawyer stated. How an organization drives NPS, however, may depend on its ability to get the right messages across to its employees and customers.
At Bank of Montreal, the organization emphasized simplification as it searched for ways to drive customer loyalty improvements.
"We are very focused on loyalty and certain principles to really move the loyalty agenda forward," Sawyer stated.
With clear-cut messages in place, Bank of Montreal was able to define its day-to-day approach to foster customer loyalty and trust. Furthermore, the bank was able to provide its employees with steps that they could follow to help the organization accomplish its NPS goals.
"We overlook the importance of simplifying messages that go out to our salesforce," Sawyer noted. "It is important to continue to simplify and reduce the message that we deliver to employees."
Simplification was key for Bank of Montreal, Sawyer said, and enabled the organization to determine three messages to provide to its employees and customers.
"Even if our employees are doing exactly what we want them to do … if a customer has a problem that goes unresolved, it doesn't do us any good."
With these messages in place, the organization made it easy for employees to understand what they will need to do to drive NPS improvements. Meanwhile, the organization ensured its customers received the support they deserve consistently, resulting in increased customer loyalty over an extended period of time.
"If you're going to send out too many messages, nothing will get done," Sawyer said. "It's important to pick the top three, four or five messages. When you pick them, select the ones that make the biggest difference it terms of moving customer loyalty."
For Bank of Montreal, the organization emphasized the following messages to drive customer loyalty enhancements:
- Customer Contact: Bank of Montreal examined how it stayed in touch with customers and looked for ways to improve its customer service.
- Valuable Conversations: With data analysis, Bank of Montreal was able to see whether its customer interactions were helping or hurting the organization.
- Solving Problems: Bank of Montreal studied the root causes of assorted customer issues and searched for ways to prevent such problems from escalating.
Bank of Montreal discovered that it needed to provide its employees with actionable support to ensure they understood how to assist customers. By doing so, the bank was able to engage employees and further enhance its customer loyalty levels.
"We know that customers value relationships, and we know we want to nurture those relationships. But as an employee, that doesn't tell me what to do," Sawyer pointed out. "[You need something] that's implementable and actionable."
The bank also uncovered ways to take a proactive approach to customer issues.
"We need to know what our customers want before our customers even know they want it," Sawyer said. "We've found out that's what customers expect from us."
The approach even helped Bank of Montreal employees understand that their actions impact customer loyalty.
"We know that customers value relationships, and we know we want to nurture those relationships. But as an employee, that doesn't tell me what to do. [You need something] that's implementable and actionable."
If Bank of Montreal resolved customer issues every day, they could become key contributors to the organization's success.
"Even if our employees are doing exactly what we want them to do … if a customer has a problem that goes unresolved, it doesn't do us any good," Sawyer stated. "Unresolved problems are so important that they can derail loyalty."
Thanks to its proactive approach, Bank of Montreal employees became problem-solvers who were ready to embrace any challenges that came their way, according to Sawyer.
This approach continues to help Bank of Montreal differentiate itself from the competition, Sawyer said.
"We have a culture that states if a customer calls you and there is a problem, it's not your fault, but it is your problem to resolve," she noted.
Karen Sawyer is Director of Customer Loyalty & Growth for the Commercial Bank at BMO Bank of Montreal. In this role, she is accountable to develop strategies and drive initiatives that grow loyalty, increase share of wallet and acquire new customers for BMO’s Commercial customer base.
In the 16 years she has been with BMO, Karen has held multiple roles, most recently leading marketing strategy and execution for customer growth in the small business and commercial space. Prior to BMO, Karen specialized in direct marketing, providing consulting services to Canadian Tire Acceptance Limited and spent a decade specializing in affinity marketing with Trans National Financial.
In her spare time, Karen enjoys traveling and writing and has been published several times in the Globe & Mail. She is an avid supporter of non-profit organizations, donating both her time and financial support, with a particular interest in causes working to improve mental health, child welfare and single parent families.