Winning by Creating the True Value for Customers

Susan LaMonica, CHRO, Citizens Financial Group

Susan LaMonica, CHRO, Citizens Financial Group

How would you describe the role of a CHRO today?

The CHRO plays a more important role today than in the past. Given the pace of change in the external environment and the implications for changing customer preferences, organizations—particularly those in financial services—have to increasingly compete on the quality and creativity of the ideas and advice provided to customers, as well as our ability to deliver products and service when and how the customer wants. Stated more simply, the true differentiator is our ability to create more value for our customers. Two key factors in delivering this value are talent and technology.

"Being able to provide just-in-time, tailored solutions has huge implications from an HR perspective"

Today a CHRO must ensure that the capabilities required to create customer value now and in the future are available in ample supply with an eye toward managing expense. This has implications for the build vs buy decision, the mix of internal and external resources as well as the firm’s location strategy. In addition, it is incumbent upon the CHRO to ensure that there is a productive and positive working environment and that the workforce has the tools and resources required to maximize their contribution in service to the customer. Clearly, the presence of sophisticated technology tools that enables: the mining of (customer) data, collaboration and sharing of ideas, and enhanced speed and productivity are critical to creating the differentiation necessary to outperform.

As the technology sphere evolves with each passing day, what are some of the latest trends that are gripping your mind?

It comes back to the way an organization is really going to win going forward, which is going to be by quality of the advice, ideas, products and services they are able to provide to customers. Recruiting and retaining the right talent is what helps us to deliver on this strategy.

At Citizens, we recently completed a plan to move all HR applications to a new cloud-based system, which offers a cost-effective system that is continually leveraging the latest technology. Offering the right tools to colleagues and candidates has also been a priority. We developed a new interface for performance reviews and revamped and streamlined our application process. This change has led to an uptick in applicants, giving us a bigger pool of qualified individuals that match the talent we need to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

Being able to provide just-in-time, tailored solutions has huge implications from an HR perspective. How we use data is changing dramatically. We now have both the data and the computing power that enables us to make more informed decisions about customer behavior. This has all sorts of implications on the talent side. The quantity of data, use of predictive analytics and capabilities of artificial intelligence that has become the gold standard on the customer side, are just starting to be explored on the talent and people side. We are beginning to amass data on employees, which provides an opportunity to better tailor the experience that an employee has here. We know that this is critical to our ability to create a “wow” colleague experience and will be a key differentiator and driver of success. It’s exciting to think that we are evolving to a place where we can better understand talent, skills and capabilities through data, and then map to different opportunities and better target tools and resources based on that data.

What is your advice for the upcoming or budding CHROs?

Organizations need to remain nimble to be able to meet the changing environment, customer and colleague expectations. Pay attention to consumer trends. Consumer and colleague preferences are often one in the same and can provide a number of insights into what we should be thinking about next when it comes to work expectations and technology.

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