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Keeping transformation programs on the customer-centric track  

By Cliff Fitzpatrick and Alan Riley with KPMG’s Power and Utilities team in the UK

New competitors, technologies and rising consumer and regulator expectations are prompting utilities firms to pledge their commitment to greater customer-centricity. The following article was written with utility companies in mind but discusses a theme we believe resonates with the financial services industry.


It’s not easy for the utilities sector to evolve with changing demands, provide cheaper energy and demonstrate a renewed customer focus, since their current costs to serve customers are already high and are driven by stringent new regulatory imperatives. .


To adapt, many energy companies have embarked on a vast array of transformation programs to revamp legacy systems, streamline processes and lower costs. Many of these large-scale technology and process projects are launched under the ‘customer’ banner, with customer transformation, digital strategies and big data analytics among their end-goals.


For these simultaneous, interdependent programs to succeed, it is crucial that overall program management and coordination is centralized and strictly governed. However, this can be a challenge for large organizations with multiple operating divisions, each with different executive sponsors. With many projects underway, and diffused sponsorship, programs can conflict and compete for scarce resources.


It is also easy for the customer vision to get lost among the complexity. We have seen this problem arise in the utilities sector, in which, among projects we have examined, about 15 percent of those programs identified as being customer-focused rarely add customer value. In fact, significant time and resources could be saved if projects had been validated for customer value upfront, so that adjustments could be made.

Keeping customer-centricity front and center

Despite these challenges, there are steps that utilities firms – or a banking institution –can take to ensure their transformation projects help create a leaner, complaint and customer-centric organization.


First, business leaders should establish an enterprise-wide team with responsibility for designing and implementing an operating model around the customer. By doing so, they can create the right, consistent context to guide the rest of the organization to prioritize, coordinate and manage multiple transformation programs.


Boardroom support is a critical building block for this process, as well as a c-level or v-level customer experience leader responsible for the company-wide, quality customer experience. This leader or group should have the mandate to halt, alter or even reverse current change programs when required. They must also ensure that the redesigned operating model is relevant to the whole organization and can accommodate changes down the line.


In addition, for business leaders to design a truly customer-oriented operating model they must first have a deep understanding of what their customers value. They can then target business performance improvements that relate to key customer “moments of truth.” With these insights, it is possible to craft an operating model that differentiates the customer experience and maximizes the economic value of customer relationships. Then, the organization can translate the right brand and values into daily business practices.


By really understanding what matters in the customer’s world, the board can set the right vision, executives can design coordinated, complementary transformation programs, and change teams can implement these plans effectively. Ultimately, it is possible for major organizations to overcome complexity and legacy challenges and assert the primacy of the customer experience.


  • What lessons can a bank glean from the utilities sector experience?
  • Does your organization have a senior executive empowered to oversee the bank-wide customer experience?
  • Do you approve, review and measure infrastructure, technology and process transformation projects to ensure they comply with your bank-wide vision or customer-based operating model?
  • Does your organization have sufficient “voice of the customer” data and insights to inform board decision-making, redesign your operating model and ensure customer-centricity is embedded across the organization?

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