There are a number of things that jumped out at me from the Michael Rouse @rousemb32 interview on the FinTech Insider Podcast (@FinTechInsiders). The now Chief Commercial Officer of Klarna, previously at Amex, shared fascinating insights into digital, culture, business, customer experience and much more. Here are a few insights from that Podcast that struck me:
1. Culture and structure go hand-in-hand
Without the culture and organisational structure at Klarna, they wouldn't have been able to launch a new product into 2 global markets from concept in just 4 weeks. As an organisation Klarna has 3000 people. They are divided not into operating units like HR and alike. Instead, they organise as 300 teams. A team might consist of anything from a couple of people upwards depending on focus and needs. This way of structuring the company helps it to pursue any number of initiatives, reprioritise and scale very flexibly. That it works with 3000 people is testament to a strong culture. I've worked with many organisations much smaller with far more rigid structures and mostly rigid businesses as a result.
2. Service is everything
From Rouse, "Service is everything. But it only works if the customer comes back and uses it again." Klarna see themselves as a customer experience company not a payments company. Interesting and if I hadn't listened to the Podcast, I would've probably thought it was more business-speak. I, for one believe it.
3. [A real] laser focus on the customer
First, take the top 3 problems with the last week's customer experience. Second, assign a team to analyse and propose a course of action to address the issues at some undetermined time in the future. Third, continue with business as usual. Fourth, check whether anything blew up. If not, rinse and repeat. If yes, throw everything at putting the fire out (not necessarily the cause). Isn't that the way to fix things?
Klarna doesn't think so. It does things quite a bit differently. Each week, they create a team for each of last week's problems. That team is responsible for resolving the issue - full stop. It's a step-by-step approach enabled by the confluence of many things not least culture, digital mindset, organisational structure and their relentless focus on great customer experience.
[Bonus insight] As for Rouse, I really couldn't join the dots as to how his experience in FMCG set him up for a role in FS, first with Amex and later with Klarna. He drew a startlingly simple, clear and obvious link in the form of customer focus. It's where "taste your own biscuits" comes from. Rouse's FMCG stint was with United Biscuits. Of that he said, "It's about reaching into the consumer behaviours and experience as well as merchant experience". In an environment like that industry if your product tastes bad you know about it straight away.
Klarna are doing some really innovative things, not least partnering with Snoop Dogg, driving financing innovation through partnership with H&M and going back to its roots in deferred payments with try before you buy at home.
Have a listen to the Podcast episode and let me know what you think. Big thanks to Chris Ibbitson @ibbitsc for pointing me to the Fintech Insider Podcast from 11FS.