Head of Customer Success at Länsförsäkring discusses courage and what’s expected of a leader to deliver success in a traditional industry such as banking or finance.
Susanne Bergh, Head of Customer Success, is the driving force behind the digital transformation at Swedish bank and insurance company, Länsförsäkringar AB. Following the recent publication of the Daresay Courage report, we caught up with Susanne to ask her about courage in the workplace and discuss how she has managed to successfully drive change in an organization that is firmly rooted in such a traditional industry.
In the Daresay courage report we found that 97% of senior management believe that courage is a key attribute to lead a company in the right direction in today’s business climate. What is your take on this?
“Courage is incredibly important in business today, and it’s only going to become more so as the world continues to change at such a pace,” replies Susanne.
“It’s easy to rest on your laurels when everything is going smoothly, but more and more organisations now understand that they have to challenge themselves and transform in order to survive over the long-term. That’s why there’s a lot of talk about courage in the boardroom. At Länsförsäkringar we talk about courage all the time, how we would like courageous staff and managers.”
Susanne Bergh, Head of Customer Success at Länsförsäkringar
Susanne explains that it’s even more important for banks and insurers to be courageous than many other industries. “Today we are facing tough competition from start-ups that have completely different business models and expectations. Such a competitor can be difficult to handle in a traditional industry such as ours, which focuses on minimising risk.
“Our entire operation is built on taking as small a risk as possible. Not surprisingly, we have a corporate culture that reflects this. We have to dare to think differently. We have to take decisions without relying on lengthy pre-studies or knowing exactly where the results will take us. We need to accept that failures will occur and really learn from them, rather than just casting them aside. To do this we need to be courageous.
Susanne believes leadership and courage go hand in hand. “If you’re a courageous leader that trusts colleagues and doesn’t micro manage them, you’ll be rewarded with a dynamic, responsible and effective team culture.” She is quite certain that this has been the key to her success.
“It’s difficult to be creative if a working environment is steered by project models and concrete deliverables. Therefore I prefer my teams to work towards goals.
“Typically, a process might go something like this ‘in a year I want us to reach a particular point, your job is to make sure we get there, I’ll support you and create the right conditions necessary for you to succeed.’ I myself became courageous at work thanks to one of my old bosses who put his trust in me. I began here at Länsförsäkringar in 1989 and there’s always been a lot going on in the company. When I got the opportunity and the support to push through out my own ideas, things really started moving forward. It’s exactly this feeling and mentality I want to instil in my colleagues.”
When Susanne decided that Länsförsäkringar should be the best provider of mobile bank services in Sweden, she decided to give her colleagues a clear goal and the freedom to find the best way to achieve it.
“I wanted to win Gold in the Swedish Mobile Awards, and I got the go-ahead from our CEO to do what was necessary to win it. I told my colleagues that we were going to stand on stage and receive the award for the Best Mobile Bank in Sweden in one and a half years time. When my team asked me how we were going to do it, I told them I didn’t have the answers, it was up to them to figure it out.”
Susanne explains this was how they came into contact with Daresay. “We created a collaborative team consisting of people from Länsförsäkringar, representatives from some of our other consultancy partners, and a team of designers, developers and strategists from Daresay. The team was totally committed to the goal and sure enough in 2016 we stood on stage and received the award for Best Mobile Bank in Sweden. All in all we’ve won just about every prize possible in Sweden, including the Web Service Awards, four years in a row. We’ve also won design awards and were recently awarded our first Red Dot Award together with Daresay. All this success can be put down to the way the team has delivered what the market wants. Basically we focus on providing our customers with the best and most relevant services.
Winner of Best App: 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016
Mobile Bank of the year
Service Design & People’s Choice
Apps and Finance
users a month
Customer Satisfaction Index