Corner Office Conversations with Neil McLaughlin

Corner Office Conversations with Neil McLaughlin

Corner Office Conversations with Neil McLaughlin

Roman Trebon

Roman Trebon

Roman Trebon is Vice President of Client Experience at TSYS. In this role, he makes it his goal to utilize insights using the voice of the customer to reduce attrition, lower costs and improve customer satisfaction.

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Neil McLaughlin has a lot on his mind these days as group head of personal and commercial banking for RBC. To name a few, products and fees, convenience and advice – and most of all, the customer journey.

That constant attention paid off this year when RBC was recognized as the highest in customer satisfaction among the five big Canadian banks. And it wasn’t the first year – it's also received the award twice before as a result of direct feedback from thousands of consumers.

With more than 20 years at RBC, he's currently responsible for the bank's business in Canada and the Caribbean, including credit cards, digital solutions, branches and call centers. It all comes down to quite a bit of time spent thinking about customers.

Recently, McLaughlin sat down with TSYS' vice president of Client Experience, Roman Trebon, to discuss a range of topics on his radar, including the new competition, technology's role in CX and how to turn insight into action.

Here are five highlights from the conversation.

01 on expectations being set outside the industry

One area where there's both a challenge and opportunity for McLaughlin's team is with the pace of change and how it has redefined customer expectations. After all, consumers aren't necessarily comparing RBC to other banks, but to the Amazons, Googles and Ubers of the world.

"We're not stacked up against competing banks," said McLaughlin. "We're being stacked up against the large technology platform players who are defining what a fantastic experience is these days. They recognize me when I log in and they have very intuitive screen flows and they know my communication preferences. That's a different measuring stick than we had even five years ago."

02 on the role of technology in CX

Everyone loves new features and technology, but McLaughlin acknowledges that there are limits to what digital tools can do for banking customers. Intuitiveness, emotional connection and face-to-face human relationships are all still very much part of the equation for 'digitally-enabled relationship banks' like his.

"We're investing in chatbots, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and more, but we never forget the ultimate goal, which is to make sure we have a 360-degree view of our customers so we can make those connections between interactions and channels," he says. "New opportunities and technologies are evaluated within the context of client trust, which takes years to build but can leave in a hurry."

"We're not stacked up against competing banks. We're being stacked up against the large technology platform players who are defining what a fantastic experience is these days." - Neil McLaughlin, RBC

03 on turning insight into action

McLaughlin's customer experience teams receive a tremendous amount feedback through calls, emails, chats, social messages and other touchpoints. Needless to say, collecting it, synthesizing it and integrating it into the business takes a special expertise – and honed practice.

"It's a priority for senior leadership, but it's also strongly rooted in our culture and DNA. It's a combination of hard analytics and softer skills that are happening in conversations in every region, every day, week in and week out," said McLaughlin. "And then we're looking at patterns and trends. We look at how our clients traverse the organization and what their journey is, through initial contact to the very end. We're not thinking about specific points along the way, but the whole journey."

04 on mobile reach 

RBC had the highest percentage of mobile customers among the big 5 Canadian banks, according to the JD Powers report. But despite the fact that it sees itself as a digitally enabled relationship bank, McLaughlin underscores that technology isn’t only for the digitally active.

"Our front-line staff identifies opportunities for clients to use mobile devices and not make the trip into the branch," he says. "That means actually standing side by side with the customer instead of across the counter, installing the app and walking them through how to use it. We've made it clear to all of our staff that the priority is to bring this experience and convenience to all clients, not just those who already feel comfortable with it."

05 on the role of employees

McLaughlin stressed that having a strong client focus starts with a strong employee focus. That entails spending time talking to his teams about why they get up in the morning, the bank's purpose and how to best help their clients thrive and communities prosper.

"Yes, there are great mobile apps that catch people's attention, but the feeling about an organization is shaped by interactions with employees," he says. "Our front-line staff obviously engages with clients every day. But even operational teams or back-office teams know that a big part of their role is supporting fellow employees who support clients."

Neil McLaughlin

As Group Head, Personal & Commercial Banking, Neil McLaughlin is responsible for RBC’s banking businesses in Canada and the Caribbean, including personal and commercial financial services, credit cards and payments, digital solutions, as well as RBC’s sales and branch distribution, operations and advice centres. Together with other members of Group Executive, Mr. McLaughlin is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of RBC.

Neil joined RBC in 1998 and has held a wide range of senior management and executive positions within Canadian Banking, including roles in the Credit Card and Personal Lending lines of businesses and distribution and operations. As well, Neil was Senior Vice President Marketing & Channel Strategy, responsible for leading Brand, Marketing, Advertising and Sponsorship, with direct accountability for digital channels, the physical distribution network, client knowledge and insights and the client information management team.

Neil holds a Bachelors of Commerce degree and an MBA. He lives in Toronto with his wife and their two children and currently serves on the board of the Children’s Wish Foundation, Ontario Chapter.

The statements and opinions of the writer do not necessarily reflect those of TSYS.

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Roman Trebon

Roman Trebon is vice president of client experience at TSYS. In this role, he makes it his goal to utilize insights using the voice of the customer to reduce attrition, lower costs and improve customer satisfaction.

Prior to his role with TSYS, he was a business consultant at Candid Partners, where he was responsible for providing strategic planning and program management for a large telecommunication company’s proactive customer retention efforts.

Roman currently sits on the Client Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Atlanta leadership board. He has a bachelors degree from Miami (OH) University.

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