In an age where customer obsession is a strategic advantage, one of Kindred Group’s recent challenges has been to redesign its operating model to be customer-led, insights-driven, fast and connected. This article explains how we’ve reimagined ourselves to embrace a customer ‘outside-in’ approach and to how we organise, design and deliver change.
Our customer experience transformation wasn’t going far enough
Since 2014, Kindred Group has been on a systematic path to improve its customer experience (CX), grow its customer base, reduce costs and boost customer loyalty. Early efforts at CX improvement were relatively successful - a customer feedback infrastructure was in place and a Customer Champion team had been developed with the purpose of actioning this feedback with teams throughout the business. However, the company understood that it had to go beyond experience enhancements to deliver greater customer value as its existing CX program was.
Not delivering customer value fast enough
The company was taking several months to turn an initial idea into a live product or service. Also, important CX metrics such as overall CSAT or Net Promoter Score could be improved faster.
Straining under a mismatched organisation structure
There were challenges in the broader organisation – in the realms of culture, structure, processes and peer alignment. This slowed the delivery of great customer experience. Organisational silos were also persisting, causing a myopic view of customers. A Customer Champion function had been appointed, but without direct and accountable stakeholder action, was forced to negotiate purely from a position of influence, without formal authority.
Using a customer journey-centric approach
In 2018, Kindred’s executive management team launched an Organisational Development & Design program with the goal of changing how the company was organized to rapidly adapt and respond to future customer needs. The vision for this new operating model was to:
Transform how customers engage with Kindred brands across 7 key experiences
To apply a customer lens to how Kindred organizes, designs and delivers change, 7 key Experiences were created: Join & Leave, Pay & Withdraw, Play Sports, Play Gaming, Get Communication & Rewards, Be in Control and Get Help.
Each of those experiences is a collation of the main high-level journeys customers go through whilst using Kindred brands. The ‘Join & Leave’ experience, for example, includes journeys such as encountering the brand, signing up, logging in and closing your account. Each journey is then further broken down into journey steps or micro-journeys.
Establish a new operating model to deliver quality at speed
To achieve the speed and precision that Kindred’s competitive marketplace demands, we needed to move away from the stepwise, design-and-build approaches and embrace rapid process digitization methods using concurrent-design approaches in which elements are added and refined in a continual cycle of testing and learning, co-designing processes and journeys in the field, iterating and releasing designs quickly, often in real-time, based on direct customer input.
To deliver quality at speed, the new operating model is based on the following guiding principle: autonomous, cross-functional teams dedicated to each experience and focused on solving customer problems and pushing experience improvements with meaningful KPI’s to capture business and customer value.
Deliver savings and revenue growth
Kindred’s new operating model is expected to deliver savings through reductions in customer verification processing time, increased self-service, and first-time chat resolution rates. Revenue increases are also expected through higher registration conversion and unlocking employee capacity for more value-added activities, which in turn drive revenue and build loyalty.
The group transforms how it is delivering change
The focus on delivering new customer propositions required a fundamentally different approach to how Kindred Group works, with implications for its culture, organisation, technology, and metrics.
A new design & delivery process that embraces customer understanding of best practices
Kindred has adopted a new, four-stage (request, sort, produce & evolve) design and delivery process with customer validation at the core. The ‘Production’ phase is an iterative process, which includes ongoing prioritisation, planning and completion of the change. This phase is a highly collaborative process that involves the customer, uses customer research and several tools to reframe the problem and need for change from a customer’s perspective. The ‘evolve’ phase aims to maintain and measure the change produced to evaluate its usefulness and value, leading to continuous improvements.
At this stage, we measure the impact the solution has on the quality of CX and the pre-defined descriptive, as well as customer perception and business outcome metrics. Areas identified for improvement are continually assessed and fed into new requests for change.
Speed over perfection
One of the biggest mindset changes was embracing the minimum viable product (MVP) methodology to help teams focus on releasing services when there is sufficient customer value, rather than when they are deemed complete, ensuring the best customer experience.
A new ‘Experience Owner’ role has been created. All Experience Owners are accountable for the success of their experience. This is measured through specific customer value metrics; they work hand in hand with their business owners, stakeholders and CX insights teams to determine priorities and deliver the right things, at the right the time to the customer through Experience virtual teams.
Cross-functional end to end virtual teams
To overcome internal silos and be able to respond to customers’ changing needs faster, Kindred’s new delivery model has a startup-inspired structure. This includes setting up cross-functional end-to-end virtual teams, according to hub-and-spoke organisation design. Virtual teams bring together Spokes from different functions to support a business need, whereas Expert resource is allocated to virtual teams from the expert Hubs.
Kindred’s technological platform is a complex system capable of handling millions of transactions every day. The back-end services have for many years been based on a micro-service architecture, allowing teams to make small and frequent changes without interrupting the customer experience. As part of transforming the way Experiences deliver change, the same concept is now applied to front-end components by adopting a ‘micro-frontend’ architecture. Through this change, Experiences are now able to release improvements to all aspects of the customer experience faster, and with fewer dependencies on other teams.
With the transformation having started last year, the new model has already delivered some promising results.
Kindred Net Promoter Score (NPS) has improved by +4 points since Q4 2018. It’s a customer satisfaction benchmark that measures how likely customers are to recommend a brand to a friend and the ultimate benchmark for evaluating and improving customer loyalty. During the same period, the share of customers who use one of Kindred’s brands and believe that this brand delivers the best gambling experience has grown by +6.5 points.
Kindred is saving money by delivering new services faster; rolling iDIN is one example. iDIN (Dutch BankID) is a verification method developed by Dutch banks that gives consumers the possibility to identify themselves within a few seconds. This eID solution reduces customer friction and internal operational workload. From the moment Kindred gained access to this third-party solution, the actual frontend development work was only 2 weeks, with an additional 2 weeks for testing before rollout. Normally, this type of development would have taken several months prior to the new experience delivery model.