Organisational design

A commonly held belief by senior leadership is that changing the structure of their organisations will lead to significant improved business performance, which is why this is usually one of the key tasks undertaken early in their tenure. However, the experience from many organisations indicates that an organisational restructure, which is no more than rearranging boxes on an organisational chart, does not usually translate to desired improvements in business performance.

Regulatory compliance

Better regulatory compliance primarily focuses on the key drivers of the regulator’s activities, which is usually the protection and promotion of the best interests of consumers. Better regulatory compliance makes the best interests of customers aligned with the rule of the law the focus of its risk and compliance activities and a valuable contributor to its revenues.

In other words, better regulatory compliance is looking through the regulator’s lens to see more clearly the pain points of consumers in order to develop and embed a risk and compliance program that supports the acquisition and retention of profitable new business. Better regulatory compliance is an approach that recognises that being compliant offers no competitive advantage unless its leverages the flexibility that outcomes focused regulation (OFR) offers in order to meet its regulatory obligations in ways that maintain and/or enhance its competitive advantage.


Competition based on price cutting is a self-inflicted wound even though it is easy to justify and implement because the competitors are doing likewise. Nevertheless, such a strategy is not sustainable because it also makes it easier for others to imitate the same strategy, which forces further price cutting in order to attempt to maintain their position. A greater focus on value can enable businesses to think harder about creating more value for consumers. Such businesses will devote all necessary resources to enhance their infrastructure and organisational capability to deliver unique value to consumers in order to realise the intended (justified) higher profit margins.

Customer service culture

A culture that supports the delivery of a better customer experience is one where all business decisions are taken in the best interests of the target customers. Embarking on any cultural change initiative requires commitment, vision, perseverance, courage and effective communication. Achieving a desired shift in the culture should not be viewed as a project with a commencement and end date but rather as a journey with ongoing recognition of incremental changes in line with the desired outcomes.

Demonstrating courage in the vision of delivering a better customer experience is necessary particularly in the early days when the return on investment is not reflected in increased revenues. The courage to persevere should normally result in a more sustainable customer focused firm.

Although enhancing a firm’s culture to deliver a better customer experience is a worthwhile goal that will provide benefits to all key stakeholders including employees, customers and shareholders. However, recognising the importance of aligning the culture of a firm with the expectations of customers is the easy part. The difficultly is addressing any existing barriers in a firm in order to embed the desired customer service culture.

Learning and development

A key challenge for firms is to ensure that they have effective systems to optimise the benefits of learning and development. One of such systems is better evaluation of the impact of the investment in learning and development to ensure continued delivery of the right customer experience for the target customers.

Although the traditional approach to measuring ROI on learning and development is to ensure that the financial benefits exceed the costs of delivery. The drawback with this approach is that it may not take into account all costs including opportunity costs and those intangible benefits which are difficult to quantify but may be critical to sustain a firm’s desired culture and competitive advantage. It may therefore be preferable to adopt a more holistic approach to evaluation that combines a financial assessment (ROI) with an assessment of intangible benefits of learning and development activities.

Business model

A business model describes how a business creates, delivers relevant, significant and lasting value to its target customers and captures some of that value (through its pricing) to ensure its sustainability and for the benefit of the other key stakeholders.

A business model describes how a firm does business and the framework of key interdependent activities that a firm undertakes to create sustainable value for its key stakeholders (including target customers, employees, owners, investors and the wider community).


Making critical selection decisions based on casual conversations in a social setting may occasionally prove to be effective to select the right person but this approach is unlikely to be reliable in the long term. The probability of hiring the right person is usually correlated with the quality of data obtained about the candidates during the selection process.

This is the reason why using a variety of selection tools provides a richer, multidimensional view of candidates and tends to prevent selection bias (gravitating too quickly to candidates that are most like us), which is a common challenge in recruitment processes.

Involving the right people in the hiring process enhances objectivity and is a critical success factor. This is particularly relevant with regard to the composition of the interview selection panel in order to mitigate the risk of ‘group think’ whereby panellists passively agree with the most dominant panel member in order to avoid conflict.

Business development is a critical competence for many firms but it is very easy to exaggerate this attribute in a potential candidate and overlook their weaknesses with regard to other attributes such as customer service, compliance, team work and allow the halo effect to result in a wrong decision.

Complaints handling

The ability to be truly objective in an internal complaints process requires someone to step out of the firm’s way of doing things (i.e. culture) to establish whether the customer’s complaint has some merit. Senior management of firms can embed and enhance independence and objectivity in their internal complaints handling process by ensuring the following:

  • Investigation of complaints should not be perceived just as a ‘low level’ compliance task but as a brand enhancing activity;
  • The quality of the investigation should not be influenced by the perceived financial value of the clients to the firm;
  • Independent investigation officers should ensure that the nature of the investigation is dependent entirely on the nature of the complaint and all available evidence is evaluated thoroughly and fairly;
  • Periodic reviews of the appropriateness of the decisions on internal complaints by the senior management of the firm.