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Exclusive Q&A with Lexi Airey, Chief Executive Officer, Gateway Bank

Written by Corinium

Understanding the Value of Good Customer Experience

Written by Corinium on Jul 19, 2019 6:11:32 AM

Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in your current role.

I have just moved to my current role in April this year. Prior to becoming CEO I was Gateway’s Chief Customer Officer for over 4 years. For the latter part of my career I have always worked in customer centric roles both in Australia and the UK but my early career was more technical having obtained a Masters of Science in Computer Science. I think that hardcore technical background has definitely come in useful later in my career, as well as studying UX before it was known as that!


What has been your biggest success for 2019 so far?

On a personal level that would have to be moving from the role of Gateway’s first Chief Customer Officer to Chief Executive Officer in a world where it is probably still more traditional that the CFO make this move. I’m proud to work for a bank that values the customer and wants this focus at all levels.


Describe a way that you help your organisation understand the value of good experiences?

When I originally took on the role of CCO the business was structured into three parts, front office covered by the CCO, and what was considered middle and back office under other executives. The CCO role covered the customer facing areas of the business such as online, call centre and branch, plus traditional areas such as brand and marketing, product, pricing and partnerships. Operations in the form of lending and transactions was considered “back office.” I think a key change we made was moving operations into the CCO role in response to customer journey work that showed us that the back office could have just as or more significant effect on the lives of customers than front office. We helped people to realise that what may seem like an admin error to them really affected a customer’s experience, recognising that home buying can be a stressful time for people and even a small error or delay in responding upsetting. Employees could see their own contribution to bettering the lives of other people and that what they were doing wasn’t just admin. I always use the example that you may think poor handwriting is an admin error but in the USA it is reported that over 7000 people die a year from poor doctor’s handwriting.


In what ways have you noticed a fundamental shift towards more customer focused culture within your organisation? Can you give me an example?

We have always been customer focused, Gateway is a customer-owned bank meaning we don’t have shareholders and each Member has an equal say in Gateway. The focus is on giving back to Members rather than making profits to be paid out to others. It is always good to see people automatically adopting a “not can I, but should I” approach to what they are doing. Our team know that they can go the extra mile, quite literally: One lady that works in our Call Centre will drop off a deposit book to an elderly customer along her train route because she wants to do it and it seems the right thing to do. (Do the right thing being one of our values.)


What were the two most important things you did to build better engagement of your employees?

This year we have implemented two programs that are gate-openers for objectives: the Business Understanding scheme and Customer Matters scheme. The programs help employees to empathise with customers through activities such as listening to calls or shadowing in the branch. The Business understanding scheme allows us to empathise with each other by understanding each other’s roles better as well, understanding the difference we all make and how it all affects the customer experience. We all need to get a certain amount of points during the year.

This year we also revisited our values and with input from the whole business and some customers and ensured we focused on “doing the right thing”, “small up” and “not work but making a difference.” Not work but making a difference was influenced by pilot Captain Denny who through activities such as taking a photo of a pet in the hold during his pre-flight inspection and then calming the owner on board made the customer experience of passengers better through his actions but made his own work day more interesting too.



Lexi Airey

Lexi Airey

Chief Executive Officer