Rebecca James on moving client-side to take on the new CMO role at ME Bank

The super fund-owned ME Bank has announced the creation a CMO position and has installed Rebecca James as the inaugural champion of customer experience.

The bank says the new CMO role will drive a broad and unified focus across customer, product, brand and marketing and reflects its growing focus on customer experience.

This motivation has also meant that, for the last four years, ME Bank has been pursuing a growth strategy, including changes to distribution and a major technological transformation, heading into the cloud, which is set to be completed this year.

“A lot of banks are weighed down by legacy systems that are costly to change and to design new experiences around the customer,” James tells Marketing, “so a big part of this from a tech point of view is for the bank to not rely on those legacy systems.”

Now that those ducks are almost in a row, the bank has created the CMO position. In that role, James will oversee and take charge of four business units: customer insights, product development, brand, and mobile and internet.

Jamie McPhee, ME Bank’s CEO, said the new CMO role is an important building block in the growth of the bank. “ME Bank is focused on creating a consistently superior customer experience by placing the customer at the centre of our decision making. This role furthers that aim.

“Rebecca brings a unique blend of brand, technology and leadership skills and experience that will stand us in excellent stead as we build a fundamentally different bank – a genuinely fairer bank – in the Australian marketplace,” McPhee said in a statement.

One of the first product launches is a purely-online everyday transaction account, says James. Everything from the application and the 100-point check is performed online, with the account opened in minutes. The card is then mailed to the customer within 48 hours.

The creation of James’ role looking after brand, product and service is a recognition that the role of the CMO is changing, it’s taking ownership of the customer and being their voice. “When I think of brand, I think of customer experience. We’ve moved beyond ‘the brand is latest TVC’,” says James. “Every interaction you have is the brand.”

James has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and advertising, commencing at American Express and then independent agency Lavender where she was managing director for seven years.

At Lavender Rebecca led a team of 110 people with offices in Sydney and Melbourne servicing clients including Westpac, BT Financial Group, American Express, Qantas, Telstra, Coles, Ikea and Microsoft.

More recently she helped expand Lavender from pure advertising into technology, overseeing the development and sale of technology products to augment its communication services to clients.

On her decision to make the move client side, James says she was keen to take on greater responsibility, to be held accountable for the end to end development and implementation of marketing strategy. “I absolutely loved every minute of my time at the agency… but I reached a point in my career where I started to wonder how much influence you could have over the corporate strategy of an organisation.”