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Home Interviews CXBuzz Interview With Lauren Harding, Head Of Customer Experience at Spring

CXBuzz Interview With Lauren Harding, Head Of Customer Experience at Spring

Hi Lauren, tell us about yourself, your background?

From my very first job, working as a Saturday girl in a jewelry shop, I have always been driven by providing an excellent customer service and helping customers with their needs. After growing up in Essex, I moved to Wales, aged 23, and started my career with HSBC, where I worked in their Swansea-based contact center. I loved the fast-paced nature, speaking with customers, and being in an environment where I was encouraged to develop my skills to further progress my career.

I moved into the branch network, where I held numerous customer service roles for a number of years. The time in the network-enabled me to participate in various coaching, mentoring, and training activities, which fuelled my desire to challenge myself in a new position.

After 5 years of working directly with customers, I gained my first management role in HSBC UK’s head office, the Customer Experience Team. I was predominantly focused on key life event journeys, working on new and innovative solutions within a Transformation Programme. Here I learned all about Agile methodologies, Human Centred Design, UX design and completed my Green Belt in Six Sigma.

My career then led me to Principality Building Society, where I was responsible for managing the Customer Experience within their Hybrid Technology Programme. All of the project myself and my team were working on, enabled us to embed a human-centered approach, putting members and customers at the heart of everything we do.

I have now moved back to Essex and have recently taken up a new role at Spring. A property buying company based in Croydon, which offers an alternative way to sell your home, opposed to the open Market.

As their Head of Customer Experience, I am responsible for creating seamless customer experiences, ensuring we deliver impeccable customer service, and pathing the way for innovative digital solutions to help us grow further.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?

The global pandemic forced many consumers to not only work and study online but the shop also. We all know how busy our postmen and women were working during the national lockdown, delivering hundreds and thousands of parcels to people across the country. Naturally, this saw an increase in online customer reviews and feedback and became one of the fastest-growing ways in which prospective customers check out that brand or product.

Understanding how customers feel about their purchases is crucial. By brands taking deep dives into customer journeys and analyzing their steps, their internal process, communication, and journey times can help draw out pain points that companies may never have known that are there.

What customers say, thinking and feel are all very different, so communication back with customers once reviews have been submitted can really help understand how that customer experience was.

What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?

To provide an excellent customer experience, you need to have an excellent team. This is the first thing that I feel needs to be considered, as, without a team that truly believes in putting the customer first, you are setting yourself up for failure. Creating a strong team that pride themselves on delivering high customer service allows you to work with them to develop new solutions, journey improvements, and better training.

Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?

We live in a digital age, where many of our communication are sent digitally through automation. This is a fantastic way to communicate to customers at key milestones, maintain regular contact, and stay at the forefront of their minds, but these only become meaningful when they are personalized. We all receive about 50 emails, texts, notifications, and letters a day, so ensuring that these are personalized to the customer, and their scenario shows that the organization has listened to them previously, cares about their information, and wants to help achieve the customers wants and needs.

What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?

Understanding that CX isn’t just external customers, but internal too. Be it 3rd parties service providers or colleagues, ensuring that an experience is created with the key stakeholder involved is imperative. I spent some time working with an internal Audit team, who would not have even thought CX was their responsibility, but I highlighted that their “customers” were the other teams in the organization. I helped them understand the CX journeys that each different team went on during annual audit periods, how to approach it in a human-centered way, and how they measure the success of their work.

What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?

One book that I always go back to and re-read in anticipation for starting my new role as Head of Customer Experience at Spring is, Will It Make The Boat Go Faster, written by Ben Hunt-Davies and Harriet Beveridge. The book shares Olympic winning strategies for everyday success with methods and analysis, which can be used in not only professional but personal life too. This book not only set me up for my first management role where I had strategic responsibilities but also for my current role 5 years on.

Lauren’s predictions for the future of CX

What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?

I think brands becoming more socially aware and sharing the values they believe in will become an even bigger trend this year. Having companies who actively promote their support for climate change, sustainability, and charity work enable consumers to purchase products or services, knowing that they are helping to contribute to improving the world we live in. Sometimes not everyone can afford to give to charity or switch to electric cars, but knowing they are buying from a company that can and will, enables them to continue to live in their values.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

NPS is a widely used metric across the industry and remains a firm favorite of mine. Knowing what percentage of customers would recommend your company to friends and family gives brands a good idea if their products or services are creating positive experiences. We live in a day and age where recommendations are everywhere, be it Trust Pilot Review, Trip Advisor, to people asking for recommendations on social platforms. Being tagged or reviewed in a positive way from customers helps brands become a household name, and customers becoming advocates who fly the flag for your team and your organization.

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