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Simon Pomeroy of Westpac NZ: Inside the digital suite

Divina Paredes | May 30, 2014
A background in human resources led Simon Pomeroy to one of the most in demand executive roles today. He lifts the lid on what it is like to be chief digital officer in one of the largest enterprises in New Zealand, and in a very competitive sector.

I then moved to Air New Zealand. At that stage, recruitment was fairly broken at the airline. It wasn't aligned to [then CEO] Rob Fyfe's vision of what he wanted the experience to be. So I went in and helped transform the recruitment and talent function. Then I moved into a role, which was completely alien, around customer experience and loyalty .The reason why I was moved into that role (as head of customer loyalty) was because again, it's that understanding of people.

The crucial thing for me was we moved from flying flying people. That's always resonated with me. It's not about technology, it's about the customer's mobility and technology is the enabler. That strategy then was to say "You've got an airplane with 200 people on it flying to or from Australia to New Zealand.

"Every single person on that plane has a different need to travel, has a different experience, is either going to work, coming back from work, going to see a loved one, possibly going to bury a loved one. And so, how you deliver that experience is very personal and very unique. The second thing is when things go wrong -- how do you recover from situations?"

I came into Westpac to run the customer experience program. That's where the whole Symphony strategy came out. It was about delivering this personalised experience around financial services and helping customers to grow financially, helping customers to be able to retire, helping them in the first home, using data in a very smart way to be able to have those kinds of real-time one-to-one conversation with customers in a targeted and timely way. But also, making sure that when you interact with a customer, you ask them if they've got feedback.

If it's positive feedback, we can then go and give recognition to our internal staff for the way they've managed that customer so you can use it to really drive praise. And when a situation hasn't gone right for a customer, we can then get our teams to close that out and make sure we actually recover that situation. We're seeing a huge change in our net promoter score, our customer sentiment score. People want to be listened to and heard, but they also want you to do something about it when you ask them that question.

I did that for a year. We were already working on the customer transformation around Symphony, then picked up all the digital channels. So we started running that and then in January of this year, I became chief digital officer.

I think the reason why this has worked [is] I don't profess to be overly technical and I think that we don't want digital to be technical. The fundamental difference between ourselves and other organisations is that digital doesn't sit in technology here, it sits outside of technology. It almost sits in between technology and marketing and sales. It sits where it needs to sit to deliver customer outcomes. And then it uses marketing and products and technical to deliver the solutions, which are very much aligned into customers.


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