Expert InterviewsPodcasts

Fostering support for CX Strategy: interview with Marnitz Van Heerden – E21

By January 3, 2019 December 20th, 2019 No Comments
Marnitz Van Heerden, the Group Head of Customer Experience a Hollard Insurance shares his perspective on how to realize CX strategy and influence change. Marnitz discusses how his approach to engaging stakeholders has changed with the business’ CX evolution. Julia and Marnitz explore what it means to move beyond the numbers and help teams authentically engage with CX strategy and purpose. Julia shares her plan for episodes to kick off 2019.

Kicking the beehive 2.0

Marnitz is a CX leader at one of South Africa’s largest Insurance companies and the #2 national provider of short term insurance. When he started his role at Hollard 8 years ago, CX was still considered a largely operational function. During his tenure at the company, he has driven the evolution of CX from operational to strategic, and most recently into a decentralized (or “federated”) model, whereby CX is owned by business teams rather than by a dedicated central function.

Marnitz has been successful in fostering buy-in for CX strategy, but this wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Marnitz refers to this process as “pushing the boulder uphill”, and he started by proving the numbers because in his words, “money talks”. To do this, he positioned customers as assets, and then built business cases around CX strategy to attract, retain and grow relationships with customers.

Early on, Marnitz recognized that the business case alone would not foster wide-scale adoption of CX, and that he would need to hone his stakeholder management and diplomacy skills if he wanted to see his CX strategy flourish.

The SCARF model

During our conversation, Marnitz shared several of his tactics for engaging with stakeholders to foster buy-in for CX. Customer experience management is new to many in the business world, and people are often resistant to change, so it’s important for CX professionals to wear their “diplomat hat” when engaging with teams that are new to CX strategy.

When Marnitz started off influencing change through the centralized CX team, he used the SCARF model to engender buy-in and drive change through the organization. This model addresses the most common needs and concerns in a work setting:

  • Status
  • Certainty
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Fairness

By assuring team members that CX strategy would not erode these attributes, and by demonstrating how it could, in many cases, enhance and individual’s experience through this framework, Marnitz and his team won over stakeholders and garnered widespread support as CX moved from an operational function within the COO’s directive, to a strategic function within the marketing vertical.

Transition to a federated approach

Ultimately CX strategy and vision must be owned by the entire business, not by one team. Most recently, Marnitz has led Hollard through a transition to a decentralized approach to CX, meaning that customer experience management is defined and deployed by each business team within the organization.

This transition required a different type of stakeholder engagement, as Marnitz was now aiming to engage buy-in and foster ownership among his peers. To do this, he led the process of helping the business teams define what good looks like so that they can truly own that definition and be accountable for the outcomes. Following this, he has pivoted to influencing change through supporting his colleagues as they implement CX strategy and their other goals. This has meant further refining his approach, which he now defines as an authentic relationship building approach.

Inspiring CX strategy and change

It was inspiring hearing how Marnitz has led Hollard through its CX evolution, and how he has grown through this journey as well. Marnitz’s story started with a clear vision and strategy, and he started things by proving the value of CX and positioning customers as assets. In my upcoming CX Mini Masterclass episodes, I’ll be exploring customer value and how you can help your business understand this business case and make decisions that will benefit CX in the long run.

Episode Sponsor

This episode was sponsored by CX University, a CX training company offering a broad array of CX learning options, including e-learning modules and CCXP practice exams. CXU is an accredited resource and training provider and their resources and they offer a flexible and affordable monthly subscription model. Listeners of this CX podcast can get 10% off their first month’s subscription by entering the discount code PODCAST10 at checkout.

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business define customer experience strategy that delivers results, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services or get in touch via email. To hear other episodes of Decoding the Customer, click here.

Julia Ahlfeldt

Author Julia Ahlfeldt

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