Ahead of the Chief Customer Officer New Zealand conference, we caught up with Phillipa Cameron, Chief Customer Officer at Stuff NZ to discuss the biggest challenges she faces in her role, and how to tackle them, how she has encouraged Stuff NZ to be more collaborative as well as how a shift to be more customer focused has impacted the organisation.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in your current role.
I spent my early career working in the liquor industry in various marketing and innovation roles. I began at Stuff nine years ago, part time, as their first Marketing Manager. I have been fortunate over the years to have amazing bosses that have allowed me to juggle being a mum of three while still progressing my career. I joined the Executive Team nearly two years ago as the Brand and Communications Director and most recently as Chief Customer Officer. In this role I have responsibility for Creative and Design; Customer Experience; Customer Acquisition and Engagement; Communications and Operations. That gives me the full view of all customer touchpoints. I’m fortunate that I’ve been provided many opportunities at Stuff to continually develop and broaden my influence.
What is the biggest challenge you face within your role today and how are you looking to tackle it?
The challenge is two-fold.
Firstly, really getting my new team to deeply understand the purpose and vision of a customer-centric team. We are no longer just a marketing team that is focused on attracting customers and retaining them. We are now our customer advocate - in every meeting, every decision, every process we need to understand what this is like for our customers to experience, what impact it will have on them - and champion the right decision for the customer across all activity (not just marketing). That means we need to be deeply embedded across the organisation and connected into stakeholders and our customers’ needs.
Secondly, I see technology and data as our greatest enabler or our biggest roadblock. In a business like ours where our customers are readers, advertisers, members, subscribers etc, we can only deliver a superior customer experience if we truly understand the extent and interconnected relationship our customer has with all parts of our business. Investment into data and technology is vital to enabling better customer outcomes. We’re on a real journey in this regard, and I consider our Head of Data and Insights my best partner in helping deliver on my vision.
How have you encouraged your organisation to be more collaborative?
This is probably where my natural leadership style comes to life - I enjoy bringing a team of people together to solve problems. As CCO I’ve set a clear agenda for my team and clear expectations around the type of culture I want us to create together. Firstly, I’ve really opened up the channels of communication between departments and within my own team - bringing people who are at the forefront of our customers, whether they be in charge of customer care or servicing our key accounts, into the strategic planning sessions. These people hold vital information on how we can succeed and operating in an ivory tower will not serve us well.
We’ve also met with key stakeholders across the business to talk about our respective plans and how we can interact better. Building those relationships and what we’re each trying to achieve will ensure our activities are better aligned.
I also meet regularly with my younger marketers - they’re smart, have strong intuition and I want them to feel empowered to get on, make decisions and have an impact. Having an impact is something we talk about a lot - what impact are you going to make today? What impact is your activity going to have? I’m a strong believer that you should surround yourself with superstars - there will always be people that know more than you so I really rely on my team and peers to work with me to have that positive impact.
What do you wish you knew about your customers that you don't know today?
I wish I had more detail about what relationship they have with our various products. While we are working on a single customer view, at the moment it’s very clunky to work out where a customer may have more than one relationship with us. I look forward to being able to provide a customer that has a really loyal relationship with our organisation with the premium experience they deserve.
In what ways have you noticed a fundamental shift towards more customer focused culture within your organisation? Can you give me an example?
The fact our CEO created this new role was probably the biggest indicator to the business of the value that she wants our organisation to place on the customer. The remit of my role is broad, to influence and align ALL activities across the business to ensure we deliver superior customer experiences that bring value to the customer and the business. The business has embraced that and my team are involved in a much broader range of activities than what they may have previously under a traditional marketing function. As a business we are also investing heavily in technology to ensure we can get a better view of our customer data - so that we can serve them better. Likewise, when you have a CFO constantly questioning what impact or investment we are making in our customers and ensuring my team are involved in, what could be viewed as very ‘operational’ projects like call centre operations, you can’t help but feel supported and on a path to succeed.
Chief Customer Officer, Stuff