The transformation metrics that count with Charles Waterfield, AstraZeneca

In this blog, Charles Waterfield, Director of Commercial Excellence and Innovation at AstraZeneca, shares his perspectives on the CX transformation metrics needed for omni-channel success. Here's what he had to say:

Hi Charles, can you tell us about your yourself and your role at AstraZeneca?

I've been in the biopharma industry for over 20 years and have had the opportunity to work across multiple commercial roles – giving me real insight into how the industry operates. At AstraZeneca, my role is to drive customer-centric transformation, and really bring it to life – so, that’s been my focus for the last year and probably will be for the next two to three to come. 

CX transformation often involves a significant investment over a long period of time. What are your reflections on how to maintain momentum?

When you start the journey there's a lot of enthusiasm around the opportunity. And then of course, reality hits and you need to be able to keep your organisation engaged – ensuring you’re on the ball from the get-go.

Based on my experiences, I think effectively sharing transformation, progress and outcomes consistently is key. Communicating clearly and ensuring you’re aligned with the vision throughout the journey helps to avoid losing sight of the end goal.

How can organisations use metrics to ensure their transformation stays on track?

At AstraZeneca, we consider a combination of lead and lag metrics. The lead metrics allow us to intervene early, with lag indicators typically being things that are really closely connected to the outcome. So those are the holy grail essentially, that need to be kept in sight to make sure that our people really understand the purpose of what we’re doing. 

I'd love to know your experience with choosing the right customer and commercial metrics – and how you have worked through this with your teams?

Having a customer metric is absolutely critical, because it reinforces that what we want to deliver is aligned to our vision. We had to really focus on making sure our people (which previously hadn’t used customer indicators or similar) really understood how they were constructed and why they’re important. 

Not forgetting that we’re a business, so being able to demonstrate that there is a financial or revenue benefit is also crucial. You must keep both customer and commercial metrics in lock step, ensure the organisation understands them, and measure frequently to keep people engaged. 

What is most important when it comes to establishing employee metrics?

There are two things to consider when it comes to employee metrics and setting up a project for long-term success. Firstly, as transformation is a significant investment, you need to make sure people are buying into what you're trying to do, and they believe they can achieve it. The second is ensuring the group working on the project are using the right tools and changing their ways of working. Measuring both allows us to pick up the nuances when things start going off track so that we can course-correct early. Success is really dependant on your employees – if they’re not with you, you will never win.

How many metrics do you think people should have and how often do you measure performance?

You don't want too many – six to nine is about the right number. You’ve got to be clear about what you want to track, and for us it was about customer impact, our people and outcomes from a revenue and cost perspective. So that’s the three big buckets. 

Then there needs to be enough frequency so you can adjust. You don’t want to do it daily, or monthly, because you don't really have enough time to see the results of the effort that you're putting in – but quarterly or six-monthly is about right. Annual is too far of an interval between the reads, so you’ll miss out on the opportunity to change. Approaching metrics with this test and learn attitude has been key for us.

Thinking about AstraZeneca’s transformation journey, what have you been able to test and learn?

Like everyone starting a transformation journey, you often don't have all the knowledge at the beginning. You start with a robust hypothesis about what you should be doing or measuring, but you need to keep an open mind. If something works, great, but you need to be able to adjust and change along the way. This is why testing and applying the learnings as you go is so important.

For us, revenue was a surrogate measure of success, so we needed to bring in new customer metrics and ensure our people understood them and how they work. Historically, as a business (and within our industry) there hasn’t been a lot of use of these indicators – so, we went outside of the sector to understand what others were doing. We found that we needed to educate our team about why we were using metrics in the first place, and once we had a baseline – people could see where we started and where we’re going.

How do you know when you should change the metrics that you're tracking?

First and foremost, I’d encourage people to resist changing metrics because they're getting bad results. First you need to understand what they’re telling you, and this means doing a proper investigation. Maybe you’re using the right ones, but what you’re doing isn’t working. But if the metrics aren’t connected to what you're trying to deliver, or it's not really measuring what you wanted them to, then it's time to change. 

How do you gain buy-in from your cross-functional leaders?

You can’t demand it. I believe it’s a combination of transparency, trust, getting people involved and making sure that they have a sense of ownership. When you’re working on a transformation, you're building something that other parts of the business are going to use and have to embed into their teams. Making sure there's alignment is pivotal. Staying on track is about communication, connectivity, ownership and building belief in what we’re doing.

Often with a transformation, some external assistance is required to get you to where you want to be – finally, is there any advice you have for other leaders looking to leverage a Partner? 

Establishing transparent and aligned partner goals directly links to accountability to program outcomes and helps to avoid any disconnects. Trust, transparency, openness and a willingness to have those tough conversations early on in the process is absolutely critical. You can also use metrics to help facilitate these discussions and ensure that everyone is driving towards the agreed outcomes.

To watch the full webinar recording, click here:

Disclaimer: This interview was recorded on 9/9/21 between Blackdot and Charles Waterfield from AstraZeneca. Elements of this transcript have been edited for the purposes of presenting information succinctly.