Christopher Roberts is a strategic interventionist in all things brand, customer experience and employee engagement.
Brand expert Christopher Roberts on his journey to becoming the preferred strategic interventionist in APAC. Over the last 15 years he has helped brands across Asia Pacific achieve record sales and market share results, rejuvenated brands from being the worst in the category to the best, initiated organisation-wide customer-focussed transformation and has helped organisations increase their NPS® (the world’s leading loyalty and growth discipline) by up to 90 points.
How did you get started in marketing?
I was a Physics enthusiast, but when I attended my first marketing lecture during my post-graduate program in Business, I was hooked. Marketing seemed to have an exciting mix of strategy, analytics and creativity, with endless possibilities.
While many marketing staff went straight from University to head office, I decided to work in sales for two years before starting a marketing job. This has helped me intuitively know if a marketing campaign would work or not based on my many thousand customer interactions.
Over the next few years, I rose up the ranks from a Marketing Officer to Product Manager and then Portfolio Manager where I managed multi-billion-dollar portfolio of products. Here, I realised my potential as a turnaround specialist. I was given portfolios that were a poisoned chalice that I would not just recover, but also achieve record sales and market share results. This was my key driving force.
Everything I did was based on strong customer insight, and engaging staff and executives along the journey.
How did you move into employee engagement, customer experience and brand strategy?
I had just been elevated to head up Customer Management at a financial institution I worked for. On the second day in my new position, the CEO tasked me to drive the organisation’s strategy to cross-sell additional products to existing customers. We had a large range of financial products, so it made perfect sense. However, none of the stakeholders believed in the strategy.
The Executive had a siloed mindset and only wanted to sell their products; staff did not want to ‘SELL’ because they were hired to serve customers; and, customers did not want to put all their financial eggs in one basket.
I then initiated an organisation-wide transformational approach. We tapped into the staff’s strong duty of care and replaced the word ‘Sell’ with ‘HELP’, encouraging them to help customers save money, make money, protect their lifestyle and save time. It was a massive success as we sold 80,000 incremental products/services in less than 12 months.
This was also my moment of realisation in the massive power of engaging staff in driving sales. I would soon understand the massive role staff could play in recovering a damaged brand.
A few years later, I moved to an energy company that at one given time suffered five storms in seven days. Approximately 300,000 households lost power. Following an independent inquiry, several board members, the CEO and many senior executives were gone. The brand faced eight months of negative press and was hitting rock bottom.
This was when I was appointed as the Head Of Marketing & Communications with the first major task of recovering the brand. We did this via a combination of customer research, focussed communications, taking the board on a journey of brand understanding and engaging all staff. Soon enough, the company which had become the worst in its category was now the best.
I now knew how to leverage staff and customer insights, but most importantly, I was able to crystallise the true growth formula for a brand that became the foundation of the Total Engagement Model® that I created.
What made you establish Engaged Strategy?
I was presenting at the Customer Loyalty Forum, a high-level think tank that included only one person per category. After my presentation, Francis Buttle, a Professor from The Macquarie Graduate School of Management, complemented me and said I was wasted in a corporate role and that I should start my own consultancy. This fuelled a burning desire and Engaged Strategy was established 15 years ago.
Tell us about Engaged Strategy.
Engaged Strategy is a boutique consultancy specialising in Brand, CX and Employee Engagement. We offer end-to-end service as outlined below:
We help brands crystallise their strategic intent around brand, internal culture and CX
Following this, we measure their performance via market research
We then identify pain points, key drivers and strengths, and make prioritised recommendations to help the brand outperform.
The Total Engagement Model® is the foundation of Engaged Strategy. It was published in the high-rating peer-reviewed Journal of Product & Brand Management as “Total customer engagement: Designing and aligning key strategic elements to achieve growth” and is published as a book chapter in Customer Engagement – Contemporary Issues and Challenges a textbook driven by the University of Auckland. I co-authored both with Dr Frank Alpert.
We have knowledge of 200+ brands and have worked with 70+ brands across 20+ industries. I’ve conducted 30+ brand and loyalty benchmarking studies and 3 national employee engagement studies in Australia. I have helped brands achieve NPS increases of up to 90+ points, effectively transforming them. These studies and our client experience is what informs our strategic knowledge.
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