Jonny Rose: Describe ‘A Day in the Life of the CMO at Citi Global Consumer Bank’: what do you do?
Leslie Gillin: What I really love about this role at Citi is that no two days are ever the same due to the diversity of the global team and where each of our Consumer markets are in their journey to deliver best in class digital experiences for clients with a clear focus on growth.
While I spend my days working with my LATAM, APAC, EMEA and North America partners on different topics and ensuring alignment with our Product partner strategies, our Global Marketing agenda has a clear and consistent focus on five key strategic initiatives: creating a consistent and relevant Citi Consumer Voice and Personality (our Brand), accelerating Digital Acquisitions as the primary growth channel, leveraging Social as a powerful advertising and Client engagement tool, manage our overall Creative and Media Agency strategy and partnerships and ensure we are able to make smarter marketing investment decisions through strong measurement and analytics capabilities.
Rose: What are some of the KPIs that you are measured against – and how do you know if you’re doing a good job?
Gillin: Most of the KPIs we are focused on are specific to consumer sentiment, profitable growth and our Citi team satisfaction. As a marketing organization, our job is to create Citi brand awareness, consumer preference, demand for our products and ensure we deliver a profitable return on marketing investment.
Key KPIs include unaided brand awareness, brand and product preference, digital acquisition channel growth (over natural consumer channel shift to digital), social favorability (not just views or fans) and talent retention. And of course, we share Net Promoter Score (NPS) and relative NPS goals with our Product, Client Experience and Ops and Tech teams as ultimately it is how our clients and prospects feel about us that will impact all of our KPIs!
“Customers today are largely digital by default and it’s up to us to stay ahead of the pack AND satisfy our regulatory commitments.”
Rose: We recently did a series entitled ‘Ouch’ in which we queried over a thousand B2B marketing execs about the digital pain-points of their job that keep them awake at night. What are some of the pain-points in your role?
Gillin: One of the biggest pain-points in my role (or as I like to call it – opportunities!) is to always look at ways to make sure we are delivering a superior digital marketing and onboarding experience to meet clients’ expectations while doing business with Citi. Customers today are largely digital by default and it’s up to us to stay ahead of the pack AND satisfy our regulatory commitments. This really requires us to listen and engage with our clients and prospects more than ever, sometimes even co-creating experiences to try to get it right the first time.
It is not just about ensuring we keep up with client demands, but the speed required to deliver for our clients is paramount on all digital devices today and is requiring all teams – not just Marketing – to operate differently, in what we call in an Agile Citi. This means co-location and operating differently across functions such as marketing, legal, compliance, ops and tech and trying to intentionally blur historical organizational lines while maintaining control and achieving speed and agility. Our ‘Power of One’ culture at Citi is a key enabler to us all pitching in as one team and we continue to evolve our culture to deliver for our clients’ needs today.
Rose: How does Citi approach the task of ‘knowing’ the customer: How do you capture data to learn more about the people using your services?
Gillin: Data is incredibly important and more readily available, especially for digital, mobile and what were once considered traditional advertising channels. This is an incredibly exciting time as cloud solutions and other consensual data capturing opportunities allow us from a marketing and servicing side to be more relevant and personalized at every client touch-point.
While being mindful of privacy and data protection concerns, our marketing teams are working very hard around the globe and in partnership with our digital, analytics and technology communities to not only test more new data, targeting and delivery solutions, but do it in a way that leverages our global scale. So whether it is through global ad tech licensing partnerships or as simple as having Global Centers of Excellence teams share new learnings and solutions with internal teams, there continues to be great opportunity to accelerate our ability to know our clients and prospects better every day. They deserve a personalized experience at every touch-point and have come to expect it, so data, decision and deployment capabilities are key enablers to satisfying our clients.
“I completely agree with the premise ‘you are what you read’ and if you flip it so that ‘you read what you are’, then clearly relevant content delivered in a personalized way makes Citi a much more compelling brand to want to do business with.”
Rose: As customers increasingly demand frictionless and intuitive digital experiences and communications, which marketing technologies are you using to facilitate this?
Gillin: There are a number of marketing technologies we are using and continuing to test and implement. What is really exciting to me is that more and more it is really possible to achieve best in class digital/mobile experiences and to do so in implementation timeframes I have never before experienced in my career. So whether it is digital “test and target” and optimization tools, software that enables daily changes to an account opening application, machine learning generated marketing copy, we are partnering with third party partners and/or building ourselves focusing on tools that are scalable, have fast speed to market and that are truly solving a customer need.
I think what is beginning to differentiate Citi from other financial services brands is our approach, whether it is sourcing a new early stage technology partner through Citi Ventures, operating as Agile Citi testing with results in days versus months or launching the Citi Mobile Challenge to finding the next best mobile financial services experience with global scale. Our Citi Team is working together to find the right marketing and servicing technologies to satisfy the needs of our global clients.
Rose: Our core thesis at Idio is that ‘You Are What You Read’ (i.e. the content we choose to read is highly indicative of our interests and needs): What do you think about this idea and, in your experience, does content drive real business value at Citi?
Gillin: I completely agree with the premise “you are what you read” and if you flip it so that “you read what you are”, then clearly relevant content that Citi can deliver in a personalized way makes us a much more compelling brand to want to do business with. And considering 70+% of all smartphone consumers in most markets around the world are reading their emails on their mobile phones, it is imperative that long form content is not just relevant and timely, but also mobile rendered, which is a key focus for us in 2016. We have already seen the value content, such as articles and infographics, deliver for the business. It is extremely tangible and a very cost effective way to lift traffic, increase click-thrus, increase time spent on site (engagement) and greatly increase earned social impressions through amplification.
Rose: Everyone is desperate to ‘deliver a seamless customer experience.’ Are you, and what does this mean to you?
Gillin: If you are not focused on delivering a seamless client experience, you won’t be here in the future – it’s that simple.
For me, this means from the time someone decides I may want to do business with Citi to being part of a client’s everyday life, our job is to make it easy for clients to have a better command, confidence and knowledge over their money so they can progress toward their goals and aspirations. In order to achieve this promise, we must be able to deliver an “Uber-like” service experience, which means mobile first, every time. I believe a differentiator for Citi, is although we think mobile-first, we have global channel coverage to complement a client’s Citi digital experience like no other. This is a marathon and not a sprint as client experience demands will continue to evolve, however I am confident that with our global focus on NPS as a key KPI metric, we will continue to focus on delivering that seamless digital experience our clients are expecting.
“If you are not focused on delivering a seamless client experience, you won’t be here in the future – it’s that simple.”
“Customers have come to expect a personalized experience at every touch-point – data, decision and deployment capabilities are key enablers to satisfying our clients.”
Rose: We’re in the midst of great change in financial services at the moment. Most notably, Antony Jenkins recently spoke of an ‘Uber’ moment in banking. What do you think your industry will look like in five years time?
Gillin: I would say that Mr. Jenkins is certainly not the only one using that analogy in our industry, or most industries for that matter.
I actually had an opportunity to listen to the co- founder of Uber, Travis Kalanick, speak at Dreamforce late last year which was super interesting. One of the things I took away from his “fireside chat” is they stepped back and simply focused on the customer pain-points of car transport and the inventory and infrastructure pain-points of car downtime, expense, inventory and digitized the entire model creating a Win-Win for the client and commerce in the space. They took the very unpredictable, untrackable, inconsistent and non-digital friendly business of car transportation and delivered it as a seamless mobile-first (only, really) customer experience. I think we are all doing that same type of thing, focusing on a customer need, co-creating with the customer many times, thinking through our existing channels while moving to mobile-first and trying to create the Win-Win for the client and for the for-profit company with employees and shareholders, such as Citi.
As for what this means for our industry, who really knows what our industry will exactly look like in five years’ time. What I do know is it will be delivered mobile first, products will be more tailored to an individual client’s need, and advertising, marketing and servicing communications will be delivered in a much more personalized manner. I think this is all upside for consumers globally.
Rose: And finally, what’s one controversial (or ‘against the grain’) opinion you hold about Financial Services marketing that no-one else does?
Gillin: Sorry, I would not want to presuppose I know what all others are thinking about Financial Services marketing!
I would venture to say that as a marketer, I may have a more heightened awareness at the speed of consumer behavior change related to digital and social as primary marketing channels and therefore the need for speed, third party partners and prioritization of marketing investment decisioning is maybe more top-of-mind than with others. I see this as an important part of my job within Citi, working with my business partners to provide transparency to actionable facts and recommendations, which is what the team in Global Marketing are on a mission to do!
“This is an incredibly exciting time as cloud solutions and other consensual data capturing opportunities allow us from a marketing and servicing side to be more relevant and personalized at every client touch-point.”