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CXBuzz Interview with Justin Thomas, Head of Strategy, Alliances and Digital Transformation at Standard Bank Group

Hi Justin, tell us about yourself and your background.

I am the Head of Strategy and Digital Transformation at Standard Bank Fleet Management, a division of the largest bank on the African continent, Standard Bank Group. I have over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry and am responsible for strategy development and digital transformation. I am an advocate for first principles thinking has resulted in the development of a diversified skill set that includes business strategy formulation, product, and platform development, digital transformation, leadership development, and sales execution experience. I hold a post-graduate diploma in management, and I am currently completing my master in Digital Business.

How did you start working in the customer experience space?

In 2006 I was tasked with developing and implementing a customer loyalty measure based on the Net Promoter for a large financial organization. The implementation across the organization spanned all customer touchpoints within the organization to gauge customer loyalty and to implement customer experience performance standards. Since then, I have developed digital service solutions and new products across a number of organizations that, at its core delivers a differentiated and compelling customer and value experience.

What do you think the top priority should be for a company that wants to improve its customer experience?

I believe the top priority is to have an intimate and granular understanding of your market and the consumers in them. This forms the foundation for any successful customer experience program. In my experience, the vast majority of business initiatives centered around the customer fail because of a lack of understanding or assumptions on what the customer wants.

How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?

The easiest and simplest way is to facilitate open and regular communication channels where feedback is solicited and assessed. Companies who keep the customer at the center of everything that they do are more likely to be successful at delivering solutions, products, and services. It’s also vitally important that information is unambiguous and never based on samples of one.  A fact-based approach to problem-solving and solution development is fundamental.

Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes. What are your tips on a successful digital transformation?

  • Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and the key success criteria.
  • Make sure you have a robust and effective change management process in place. And start this process from the very beginning.
  • Ensure you have communicated and articulated the transformation well in advance, make sure buy-in is received from all stakeholders, and that they understand the need to transform and how this benefits them.
  • Always keep staff regularly informed on the progress and successes achieved and failures; not doing so is the quickest way to productivity losses.
  • Make sure you track launched initiatives and deliverables and communicate the impact to the business. Good or bad.
  • Make sure you are flexible enough to pivot and that you never hardcode capability that should be flexible.
  • Make sure to celebrate achievements.

What are some CX companies or solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

Fintech companies are generally leading the way on CX. There are a few that I have my eye on. Payment24 is a fleet management solution dedicated to delivering secure and simple payment solutions for businesses that own vehicle fleets. Truckfuelnet is a company that helps long haul freight companies better manage there fuel expenses and eliminate fuel fraud and siphoning. And then there is a start-up called Tripplo, whose business model is focused on providing small transport operators a suite of digital tools that help them better manage there operations.

What are some of your tips for people who want to work in the CX sphere?

It’s an evolving discipline, make sure you are orientated towards ongoing learning. You can become irrelevant really quickly if you don’t understand new trends and new markets. Be inquisitive and make sure you put the customer experiences at the center of what you do.

So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are new trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?

If you don’t have a digital transformation planned or implementation you’re unlikely to survive as a business for much longer. Consumers and businesses are looking for companies that have the flexibility to service them in both the physical and digital world. Millennials are now the engine driving most economies and they tend to gravitate and be loyal to businesses that have an understanding of there unique characteristics. If your not providing near real time capability and quick and efficient service your unlikely to win. Millennials value experiences and can become devoted advocates or very determined detractors of your business.

eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?

eCommerce will continue to grow exponentially, it’s now the new normal. Reviews are both an opportunity and a curse depending on which side of the customers experience you are on. It does however present with more opportunities as ecommerce companies can assess product performance at the experience level and pivot accordingly. Reviews are also a way to connect with e-commerce customers, even bad reviews provide an opportunity to create loyalty.

What is your favorite CX metric? Why?

The Net Promotor Score is arguably my favorite CX metric, when done correctly it has a clear correlation to business growth and higher client retention.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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