How digital transformation and CX turned GBM into a unicorn

Flying unicorn

How digital transformation and CX turned GBM into a unicorn

GBM’s chief customer officer Araceli Meza explains why customer experience and digital transformation have helped shift one of Mexico’s leading investment banks from a traditional transactional mindset to one that puts customer relationships first. 

As one of Mexico’s leading investment banks, GBM plays a huge role in providing investment services to corporations and individuals across the LATAM region, but you wouldn’t necessarily assume it was a hotbed for customer experience best practice.

However, in this interview, GBM’s chief customer officer, Araceli Meza explains the role CX has played in unlocking new customer bases and creating a new approach to customer relationships; as well as the digital transformation work that has led them there. 

Christopher Brooks: Araceli, thank you so much for joining me today. You hold a position that many aspire – Chief Customer Officer for GBM. The world of investment banking is not accessible to all, so I am very interested to understand the role CX has to play and how you as a leader at GBM are helping to shape that agenda. Before we do, could you share with the readers your career journey to where you are now?

Araceli Meza: Throughout my 18 years of experience I have held different roles in marketing, business, operations, customer service and customer success, in which I have had the opportunity to promote the importance of the customer, manage the development and implement impact projects in Mexico and LATAM in companies such as GMP, Grupo Map, Grupo Salinas, Mapfre and finally, since more than five years ago, in GBM. Another one of my passions is teaching and learning, so for twelve years I have taught undergraduate and master degrees, which has been a very important part of my career.

Additionally, convinced of our commitment as customer experience leaders to be spokespersons for this exciting discipline, I have participated as a customer experience speaker, I am a co-founding expert in CXGO and I had the opportunity to be a judge in the CX World Games Edicion Latam 2021 and a judge in the CXWG 2021.

18 years is easy to say, but it has been a journey full of learning, challenges, mistakes and successes, where each of the companies, people and roles that I have had the opportunity to meet have allowed me to grow and continue to evolve to impact the lives of more customers in a positive way.

CB: You have been with GBM in Mexico for 5 years. What are their main areas of business?

AM: We are a brokerage house with 35 years in the Mexican market during which we have evolved; initially we focused on providing investment services to high net worth individuals and local and global institutions. Ten years ago, we changed our business model with the birth of GBMhomebroker, a digital platform that allowed us to offer our clients trading services through our platform without the need to rely on an advisor.

In 2018 we made a quantum leap not only for GBM but for the whole country because we realised that investments should not only be available to a small sector with high purchasing power, it was then when we changed our mission to turn Mexico into a country of investors. Today, being disruptive is part of our DNA and with the launch of GBM+ we not only allow the opening of online accounts but also lower the investment limits, putting within reach of any person a better option to grow their patrimony, improve their quality of life and fulfill their dreams.

With this strategy, we are able to diversify our customer profile. We have products and services for different needs, individual investors, business investors and advisors.

Most of our clients are young people between 18 and 35 years old, who are starting to learn about investments. But also caters to “most of the largest investment managers worldwide”, as well as global companies. We give services to 40% of the largest public corporations in Mexico and a large base of ultra-high net worth individuals.

The financial sector needs to focus on the customer experience, because when we talk about money, we are talking about something that goes beyond a transaction

CB: Your current role is chief customer officer. What are your responsibilities?

AM: More than any other sector, the financial sector needs to focus on the customer experience, because when we talk about money, we are talking about something that goes beyond a transaction, we are talking about trust, peace of mind and security.

As CXO, my main mission is to promote the transformation of our culture from a transactional approach to a customer-centric relational approach. To this end, we have created different “Voice of the Customer”, co-creation and collaboration initiatives that allow us to shift the responsibility for the customer experience to each one of the areas that make up the company until the customer becomes part of our DNA.

I currently lead teams with customer-facing responsibilities such as: customer success, customer support, professional services, customer operations, quality, training and customer experiences.

Each of these teams play a cross-cutting role in the organisation, which not only includes customer service business verticals, service metrics or CX indicators, but also actively participate and/or lead different projects with high impact on customer experience including automation, innovation, process, and procedure reengineering, as well as promoting effectiveness in anticipating customer needs in all areas of the company and focusing on delivering the best investment experience to our customers.

CBSince you arrived at GBM, how much have you seen the customer experience focus change? What do you think has helped with this?

AM: In Mexico there are few companies that know the difference between service and experience, however in recent years, as part of the financial sector we have found we needed to change the focus of the customer experience from transactional to relational, which forces us to leave behind a certain immobility or reactive traction to address the challenges of the sector from innovation, proactivity and customer-centric points of view.

We have implemented different initiatives that allow us to have a customer-centric approach such as evangelising the different areas about the importance of focusing decisions on the customer, creating spaces where the voice of the customer is heard, implementing CX metrics such as NPS and CSAT, sharing feedback from our customers to all areas, as well as co-creation and collaboration initiatives for continuous improvement, making all areas part of the solution to the pain points detected in the experience of our customers.

The CX metrics were initially limited to the service areas, and were later extended to the promotion areas. However, they are now Institutional Key Metrics, which has undoubtedly given more strength to our customer-centric culture. 

CB: Investment banking is very much a person-to-person business. How successful has digital been in broadening the opportunity to engage with customers in new ways?

AM: If the transition from a product-centric to a customer-oriented business model is disruptive, imagine the paradigm shift that digital transformation brings to a service that for years has been managed on a person-to-person basis, as you rightly mentioned.

Moving from being a traditional financial institution to a digital technology platform was undoubtedly a key factor that led us to become a unicorn, being our gateway to reach many more people, reaching such scalability that we broke our own limits, achieving an exponential growth rate that we will maintain in the coming years.

Imagine, this year alone we have obtained more than 81,000 investment accounts vs. the 36,000 we had at the end of 2019.

CB: What are the big-ticket initiatives you have been working on recently, and what has been your main learning?

AM: Our strategy is focused on the democratisation of investments in Mexico and for this we need to go one step ahead with a scalable, personalised, and humanised digital investment experience model.

All of this involves focusing on two main guidelines:

● Integration of new digitalization technologies, process automation, omnichannel and data analysis.

● Promote the execution of transversal initiatives, ideally related to concrete improvements in the experience of our customers in a collaborative and interdepartmental coordination manner, ensuring that people from different areas empathize with the realities of our customers.

We look for a specialized digital investment experience with a deep knowledge and understanding of the service provided to each segment of our clients. This allows us to offer better service and financial advice.

We have changed the way of investing in Mexico, which represents a high commitment to understand, comprehend and maintain a solid relationship with our customers based on their needs. Therefore, our voice of the customer system is becoming more and more important throughout the company, as it allows us to listen to our customers and adapt our value proposition to their needs and emotions, achieving the perfect synchrony between what they expect, what they receive and how they feel when they invest with us.

Moving from being a traditional financial institution to a digital technology platform was undoubtedly a key factor that led us to become a unicorn

CB: How important is it to have leadership driving the focus on customer-centricity? How is this focus communicated across the business?

AM: The origin of a customer-centric culture is in the leaders, since they are responsible for permeating it in the work teams. To achieve a customer-centric approach requires that all company leaders share the same vision to create a customer-centric environment, since they are the ones who set the tone for their teams, define the changes and promote the behaviors they consider relevant for the organization. If the leaders of the different areas are not aligned with the customer-centric culture, a wrong message is sent to the rest of the company.

Always putting the needs of customers before the interests of each area can only be achieved with the unconditional support of the CEO. Therefore, communication, evangelization and consolidation of a customer-centric approach must start from the highest level of leadership to each of the people who make up the company, always leading by example. For a customer-centric culture to be successful, it must not only be said that the customer is at the center of all decisions, but that this philosophy must be lived, felt and become part of the DNA company.

CB: What have been your biggest learnings on your customer-centric journey with GBM?

AM: The biggest learning has been the realization that customer experience is more than a strategy or area. If we really want to differentiate our value proposition we must adopt CX as our philosophy. Changing the entire organization to become 100% customer centric is not an easy task and, many times, the first obstacle is the leaders themselves, so it is important that the entire leadership team is convinced that putting the customer at the centre of decisions is the most profitable way to grow the business and create a truly differentiated value proposition.

Being customer centric is not a task of a month, a quarter, or a year, it is a task of every day and each of the people working in the company must ensure that the customer is a priority, otherwise, the daily operation and the focus on results will be imposed leaving the customer in the background.

It is extremely important that management is convinced and committed to being a customer-centric company because if we falter as leaders in such a radical change, the chances of success begin to fade.

CB: Which other brands do you admire for the customer experience they provide. What is it about them that stands out?

AM: I am a fan of disruptive innovations that uncover black holes in existing markets and create a new market segment. Some of the brands that I like are for example:

● Nubank is challenging the traditional financial structure in Brazil by giving customers control over the use of their cards, blending technology, data science, design and customer experience in its business model.

● Google has a disruptive organisational culture and has managed to take simplicity of use to its maximum expression.

● Amazon has changed the way we shop, leaving aside physical stores to buy what you want online.

● Uber is a clear example that innovation is not only creating something new but also improving something that already exists.

CB: Finally, what advice would you give to someone just staring out on their customer experience career path?

AM: Customer experience is not a discipline or methodology to be implemented by the book, it is not only about understanding your customers, but we also need to understand the company, its maturity, the environment, its culture and the people who collaborate in it so that in a collaborative and immersive way a customer-centric culture is consolidated.

CB: Thank you so much Araceli for sharing your knowledge with the readers of  

This article was originally published in My Customer as part of our CX Leaders series. In the series, we speak with senior customer experience professionals to learn about how they have driven customer-centric change at their organisations and what we can learn from their successes. 

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