Most Powerful Women to Watch: Beth Johnson, Citizens Financial Group

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Chief Experience Officer

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in March, the timing looked terrible for Citizens Financial Group’s Beth Johnson. She had been named chief experience officer, a newly created role, just weeks before — and now she and her team were tasked with responding in real time to a full-blown crisis.

But Johnson was better prepared than most. In the years before taking on her new role, she’d led several initiatives that positioned the $180 billion-asset Citizens to learn to pivot quickly — programs that had also powered the company’s steady rise into the top echelon of regional banks.

In 2019, she spearheaded large investments in new technology to create a seamless integration of digital and physical customer experiences while making the company more versatile. By the end of the year, Citizens’ digital operations had handled more than four times the number of transactions of branch and contact center operations combined. Streamlined customer experiences, with faster problem-solving, fueled a 45% improvement overall in the bank’s Net Promoter Score in two years.

This work was informed by an earlier Johnson-led project, Citizens Listens, a voice-of-the-customer program that has enabled the Providence, R.I., company to integrate customer-centricity into the daily routines of all of its employees.

“My team has shown incredible resilience and agility in the face of COVID-19,” Johnson said. “This is important, because so much of our organization’s response to the pandemic has come through my organization. We took a coordinated approach that emphasized the importance of alignment and collaboration. We launched the digital tools needed to support the Paycheck Protection Program, reshaped our brand platform and so much more — all while adapting to entirely remote ways of working.”

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Customer experience Digital banking Citizens Financial Beth Johnson Women in Banking