When a company is revealed to have lied 20 times to regulators, as AMP has been, there are two possible reactions. The first is to conclude the company is run by crooks and move on, the second is to see if there is an underlying reason for the lies.

Going in search of a reason is what all investors in AMP should be doing. And to do this, there are four questions that need answering.

First some background. The core issue with the financial planning business in Australia is that financial planners are salespeople working on commission, styled as professionals…


Service design is a core skill of any successful business. This statement might come as a surprise, but if I put it another way it will actually seem pretty obvious. That is, to be successful a business must know who its target customers are, what value it is delivering to them, and why customers choose its products and services rather than the competitors. And to survive over time, the business must also be able to respond to external trends and changes in customer needs; and be able to make enough money to survive on the way through. …


Anyone who follows financial services and fintech will notice a concentration on three topics: new technologies and how they might be used to improve existing services (robo-advice! blockchain for share trading! AI and ML for [insert just about anything!]); how much venture capital is being invested and what startups are getting funded; and how banks and other incumbents are setting up their own innovation labs and partnering with startups.

There is a missing piece to this puzzle. Customers. A significant opportunity and threat of fintech is to create entirely new products and services and business models that meet customer needs…


I was talking to an old colleague last night about which is the better model for change. Is it better to have someone who will create change through working with existing leaders and teams, or to bring someone in from outside who pushes existing teams and leaders out of the way and says ‘you know nothing, watch and learn from what I and my team do’ (or at least this is how it is perceived).

This might seem like a humanistic question — will people working hard within the existing system be respected and have their views included — but…


Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

There is an odd wrinkle in the fabric of the digital era that customer service can be more like a hostage situation than an actual service. I.e. the situation where a company won’t action a customer’s request unless they are sitting there waiting … until released by the company’s service representative confirming everything has been completed.

This just happened with my mobile phone provider. I wanted to get a data plan deleted. This data plan wasn’t something I had signed up for, it just appeared on my bill. …


Service design is a core skill of any successful business. To be successful, a business must know who its customers are, what value it is delivering to them, and why customers choose its products and services rather than the competitors. Also the business must be able to respond to changes in customers needs and trends, and make enough money on the way through. All of these things are part of marketing.

With new businesses much faster and cheaper to launch than ever before, the core questions of marketing have never been more relevant to businesses that want to become and…


Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

We are now well into the digital era where the economic ground rules of survival for organisations is radically changing for both the public and the private sector, however most established organisations are yet to fully addressing the threats and opportunities. Many are pretending to innovate — aka innovation theatre — in that while their digital transformation efforts use the words of transformation and innovation, and sometimes the process, their efforts deliver little more than superficial improvement (and sometimes at surprisingly high cost).

Its understandable that organisations are nervous about undermining their existing businesses, however in changing times, not taking…


Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

Organisations focus on customer experience to satisfy customers, attract new customers, and increase customer lifetime value. Those who do this well know that great customer experience is much more than ‘customer service’.

Successful organisations treat customer experience as incorporating everything they do for customers. That is, engagement with your staff as well as engagement with your products and services, brand, and with other customers (and potential customers).

This is a much broader approach than is common. And it is an approach that often requires new strategies and skillsets.

The good news is that progress can be broken into defined stages…


Digital is a surprisingly hard-to-pin-down concept. While most people have a clear view about what digital is, their views differ widely, and often depend on what part of an organisation they come from. Someone in the digital team might think it’s about websites and apps; someone in IT will see it as being about technology; the communications team will say it’s about marketing and social media; and if you ask someone from Silicon Valley, they will see it as all of those things plus different business models and economics, new types of products and services, and disrupting industries.

Although none…

Penny Webb-Smart

design, digital, human behaviour, new ideas, aspires to live up to surname. www.pennywebbsmart.com.au.

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