When you ask marketing gun Bettina Pidcock what lights her fire, her answer is unequivocal: customers.
With a background in chemistry, an MBA and more than 30 years’ experience in some of Australia’s biggest businesses, it is no wonder that QBE created a role especially for Bettina Pidcock and her vast strengths: Chief Customer Officer.
Now a respected business executive, Bettina knew that as fascinating as science was, a research career was not for her after finishing a double major degree in chemistry. Instead, she joined Westpac’s graduate program and has since built an impressive CV featuring leadership roles at MLC, St George Bank and ANZ, before joining QBE three years ago. “The world of business is such an exciting place to be,” she says. “There’s a really important role for business to play in making the world a better place.”
A STRONG VOICE
Joining QBE as Executive General Manager of Marketing in 2016, Bettina’s remit was to bring marketing to the leadership table – but the insurance juggernaut got more than it bargained for. “I knew we wanted to be a customer-focused organisation, but I felt we weren’t getting enough dialogue around the customer at the leadership level,” she explains. “I started bringing together all the inputs we were getting from frontline feedback, social media comments and NPS [Net Promoter Score] in a Voice of the Customer report to give us a holistic view of how customers and broker partners saw us in the market.”
So insightful was Bettina’s monthly report that CEO Pat Regan suggested creating the Chief Customer Officer role to harness all of her strengths. “It brings marketing and the customer experience team together so we can make measurement more robust and more integrated into the business,” she says. “Customers and intermediaries are integral and for us to be meeting their needs and improving all the time is imperative for the sustainability of our business.”
The results speak for themselves. “We have seen dramatic and substantial shifts in our NPS scores,” Bettina says. “There’s been a significant decline in complaints and we’ve got a lot more positive and neutral social media comments, and a lot fewer negative comments – we’ve made some really concrete improvements.”
THE BUSINESS OF BALANCE
As more women come through the workforce, Bettina says it is essential that big businesses offer flexible work arrangements to help employees balance family and their career –something that she is familiar with as mum to 17-year-old Nina.
“It’s a very busy juggling act and my personal technique is to try to focus on what I’m doing at the time,” she says. “So when I’m at work, I’m as fully present as I can possibly be, and when I’m at home, I’m as fully present as I can possibly be. Some days are better than others!”
Bettina tries to lead by example and demonstrate to her team ways of balancing family and career, sometimes stepping out of the office to attend her daughter’s school functions.
“Everybody has a lot on their plate and y team know they can work from home if they need to,” she says. “There’s nothing worse than seeing people who are stressed because there’s something going on at home.”
With so many balls in the air, Bettina is also careful to allow herself moments to breathe. She does yoga on weekends and walks to work most mornings before using the bus commute home to get through a few pages of her latest book. “I’m a voracious reader,” she says. “I am in a fiction book club, and I read things about science and genetics. Of course, I’ve read Chief Customer Officer 2.0, which is a fantastic book,” she says in reference to author Jeanne Bliss’s acclaimed release on customer-driven growth.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The ever-changing world presents plenty of opportunity for insurance companies,and Bettina says the challenge remains to be flexible and adaptable.
“We all need to build cyber risk and sustainability issues into our businesses,“ she says.
“We’re continuously having to ask: ‘how do you attract the workforce of the future? And how do you shape your business so that you take advantage of augmented intelligence, but still keep your people engaged?’”
As with anything Bettina has attempted in her career, she will enter the coming decades with a curious mind. “Over the years I’ve learnt some great questioning techniques,” she says. “I often ask people to share their knowledge and expertise, saying, ‘Can you help me understand?’ because somewhere, very authentically in our human hearts, almost everybody actually wants to help others.”
Bettina’s two top tips for standing out from the crowd
Bettina Pidcock has built plenty of teams in her decades in business and says there are two standout qualities she looks for when promoting or recruiting talent:
Show initiative - “I get excited when I see people take initiative around something that they’ve observed needs doing and see a challenge as an opportunity,” she says.
Take responsibility - “Don’t wait for everyone else to do what you can see needs to be done,” she says. “Step in and own things.”
This article originally appeared in ANZIIF.
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