Allan Farrell, CIO of FCR Media Belgium, describes how the business has undergone an epic transformation to increase customer satisfaction...
FCR Media has enjoyed unprecedented growth for such a young digital media business, but an impressive timeline has seen it develop a presence in 12 countries with 35 offices and over 1,200 staff.
One of its most notable moves, in 2016, was the takeover of Truvo – Belgium’s answer to the UK’s Yellow Pages. Formerly CIO of Truvo, Allan Farrell transitioned comfortably into the same role at FCR Belgium, and began working on the business’s digital transformation almost immediately.
Birgit Peeters, MD at FCR Media, says: "It was important to ensure the transformation programme was not a technology initiative but a business transformation. The whole driver really was for us to move away from being a product-driven company to a customer-centric company, all about people, process, and technology. Allan Farrell delivered the transformation succesfully."
Farrell and other members of the Truvo family were able to bring to FCR Media focused, agile teams to take products to the market; FCR needed that sense of agility, and for it to flow through every layer of the business. Farrell also had experience in driving culture change during his 16 years with Dell, building teams from scratch and delivering significant value through project delivery. At Dell, Truvo, and now FCR Media, Farrell has maintained a focus on customer experience because, ultimately, the customer is at the receiving end of everything he – and his team – does.
FCR’s main objective is to grow its customers’ own businesses. It takes great pains to understand the needs of customers and tailor-make a solution in order to deliver the best value.
Ingrid Sluis, Marketing Director explains: “FCR’s main objective is to grow its customers’ own businesses. It takes great pains to understand the needs of customers and tailor-make a solution in order to deliver the best value. FCR therefore defined different customer personas and outlined the customer journey with all its touchpoints to ensure a consistent customer experience can be delivered at all times.”
Advancements in technology make it more accessible, whereas in the past, delivering customer and user experiences required a lot of IT developers and marketers to deliver great content and create experiences,” Farrell explains. “Now you can almost get it right out of the box.”
For example, one ongoing implementation that launches at the end of this year is that of Adobe Experience Manager, which delivers customer experiences through FCR’s customer portal, and works ‘right out of the box’. In Farrell’s Dell days, working with Adobe meant needing entire development teams in different countries. When technology is simple to use as well as implement, customers feel closer to FCR, and so many more choices are made available to them.
“One thing we’re able to do is work with global partners like Google, Facebook, Adobe, Salesforce, Harman, Deloitte Digital and Capgemini and bring them into the local market at a very affordable price. So, whether it’s about collating those experiences through our own platforms, or delivering them on behalf of our customers for their own customers, it has a big impact on everyone.”
“The value is in making sure they can be found by their customers in the digital world,” says Farrell. “Our whole subscription model is based on a flexible approach where if a customer says they want to have a marketing campaign for just a few months because their business is seasonal, we can deliver that. We’re a one-stop shop, because 70-80% of our customers are SMEs with less than 10 employees, so they don’t have their own IT or marketing departments. That’s how we engage and maintain that whole customer-centric approach.”
SMEs are, in Farrell’s words, “the lifeblood of any economy,” and with FCR’s expertise, world-class digital solutions can be brought to those companies, thus creating an incredible influence on Belgium and beyond. Nobody in the country has the reach that FCR Media does, or the scope to bring new innovations to the market quickly and at scale.
One major achievement for FCR during the past year has been its lightning-speed implementation of Salesforce. Thanks to his previous experiences in digital transformation, Farrell was perfectly placed to know exactly how to successfully approach this change.
“One key thing in any transformation is selecting a great partner,” he explains. “We didn’t have all the skills we needed when FCR took over, so we found Deloitte Digital and made sure it fitted in with our culture. We knew that we wanted a partner that could tell us what to do, not do as they were told. We want our partners to bring their experience with other customers to us, and to be honest with us if they think we’re not doing things in the best way.”
FCR’s digital strategy has a clear set of principles around cloud-first strategy, and prefers to use partners’ platforms rather than build its own. This adds to that sense of ‘out of the box’ ease; 98% of the Salesforce implementation could be configured with almost no effort, meaning time to market is exceptionally quick. Again, this feeds into FCR’s desire to put the customer first, something continually complemented by their partner, Deloitte Digital.
“Customer experience being everything, we mapped out the customer journey as it existed and as we wanted it to be before we went into designing any software or processes,” says Farrell. “We spent quite some time with Deloitte Digital creating that journey and those customer experiences. Then we designed our processes and our new ways of working, so that we were confident in the end that the system would work and deliver the right customer experience. That goes back to making sure it’s not an IT project, but about starting with your end-point in mind.”
The business, still in the infancy of its sure-to-be enormous growth, will continue to bring new innovations to the market. Farrell expects that, in following market trends, artificial intelligence will become increasingly important, along with predictive solutions to help the business sell the right products to the right customers.
“Robotics and automation will enable us to be more consistent, and analytics will improve the customer experience and allow us and our customers greater insight,” explains Farrell. “We’ll want to leverage our relationships with our customers and do some co-creation too. We want to bring the best evolutions we can to the market for the benefit of our customers. We have a 40,000-strong customer base and there are more than 500,000 Belgian businesses in our target market for us to tackle, so the evolution of tech and customer relationships will become very important in the future.”
The impact of FCR
FCR is preparing to launch a PR campaign drawing attention to its recent changes, and thanks to regular customer satisfaction surveys and feedback, the business has already found that customer satisfaction results have increased by more than 50% since May. This is an incredible result for a business still in the very early stages of its transformation, but it is no surprise – significant improvement has been seen across the board, with both solutions and interactions having increased in quality.
FCR’s people-centric focus extends to staff, who need to be well-supported in an environment which is constantly evolving. With a dynamic industry in constant flux, the FCR team has to work together in a similarly dynamic way, and the company made the decision to ensure it is not a hierarchical place, strengthening the sense of teamwork.
“Everybody works with everybody, there are no siloes, and we’re in constant contact with our partners,” says Farrell. “Everyone is accessible, whether it’s the CEO, or any management team member, or myself. People who work here get a real sense of the way things are moving, changing, and growing, and they have the opportunity to work with the latest tech and innovations, our great partners, and learn and grow their own careers. We have a very low attrition rate as a result, and people are attracted to working at FCR because of our journey.”
Nobody in Belgium has the reach that FCR Media does, or the scope to bring new innovations to the market so quickly and at scale; it is no wonder that staff, customers, and partners stay with it during this journey.
“With all of our capabilities, I think we have made – and will continue to make – a significant contribution to Belgium,” Farrell concludes.