Belinda Dimovski, Director of Engagement & Support, Australian Red Cross
Imagine a young man, living with a mental illness in a small, remote Australian town. Consider the stigma he faces in opening up about his health, the challenges in finding a nearby service that can help him, the cost of care when he does. Above all, consider how alone he might feel.
Australian Red Cross helps people like this everyday: people who are coping with isolation, disadvantage or the damage wrought by a disaster. Faced with this kind of need and our determination to create lasting change, how do we respond? We start by asking questions, and we listen to the answers.
It seems so obvious when said aloud, but to develop something useful for a cohort of people, you start by listening.
This is how the barely one-year-old Customer Experience (CX) team is helping to transform the way we operate at Australian Red Cross.
In a not-for-profit context, there is more than one definition of ‘customer.’ A customer can be one of the vulnerable people we help; one of our 20,000 members and volunteers; a financial supporter; first aid student; retail shopper; or one of our corporate partners. Our CX approach is to make sure the voices of our customers guide every step of our programs, products, and service development and delivery.
When solving for the scenario outlined above and using a co-design process, we enabled a wide range of people with lived experience of mental health illness to be the main actors in formulating a solution to their problems.
Alongside them, we spoke with support workers, local service providers, family, and friends. What we learned from these people is that having the right people around – even a handful of people – can help with mental wellbeing.
This insight led us to develop the My Team app, which puts a team of supporters around someone living with mental health concerns.
The not-for-profit (NFP) sector is one of the most competitive sectors in Australia. Customer demand is changing: there is an increasing expectation for transparency and two-way engagement, and a desire to give directly to causes that resonate.
Customers are holding s to the same standards as the organisations from whom they buy products or consume services. We want our supporters to have a stronger connection to our purpose. It is important we show our impact, engage the public in ways relevant to them and connect with them on the causes and problems they care about.
Industry best practice in CX informs this new way of working. We define a vision and strategy, gain an understanding of our customers, and build actionable insights. Embedding CX methodology and tools, alongside an increased focus on agile ways of working and innovative practices (design thinking), is breaking down organisational silos and helping us bring sustainable innovations to the market.
We combine quantitiative insights from data science with qualitative insights direct from our customers.
We are interrogating multiple points of data to inform propensity modeling around different giving behaviors and adding CX measurements (satisfaction, sentiment, and advocacy) to inform actionable insights across different customer segments and products.
We are on a journey – and there is still a way to go But, we have had real wins already.
The rollout and upskilling of the entire organisation in agile ways of working are allowing us to solve problems for the customer more efficiently and collaborate across all areas.
In March this year, we launched a new fundraising product –the Go Without Challenge – designed by students for students.
This new product drew on the insight that Gen Z wants to be involved, likes to empathise with the beneficiary and see the impact they are making to a specific cause.
The iterative product development process used customer-centric design and allowed students, parents, and teachers to give weekly feedback on prototypes directly to the project delivery team.
The result: a challenge for students to ‘Go Without’ food, their bed or words (including their phone) and fundraise with their family and friends for Red Cross.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive; over 600 teams and individuals signed up in the first three weeks, and it was rated ‘4 out of 5’ by students and teachers. A big success for a minimal viable product test, Go Without successfully engaged a new, younger audience. It reached new users through new channels with the high conversion from Instagram.
Wins like Go Without and My Team have shown that we need to continue to invest in our teams; support them to upskill and put a focus on employee experience alongside customer experience.
The focus on CX is new at Red Cross, but listening isn’t. In fact, it’s our core business in many ways. We listen to and support 64,000 Australians during and after emergencies; we call more than one million people who are facing isolation each year; and we’re working towards ending the loneliness of homelessness within a generation.
Introducing a CX function into our organisation is transforming the way we operate, complementing our most fundamental purpose: being there for humanity.