Competing on Customer Experience
I recently got to meet with a very enlightened insurance company which was actively turning their SWOTT analysis (with the second T being trends) into concrete action. They shared with me that they view their go forward “right to win” being determined by the quality of customer experience they deliver to customers through their traditional channels and increasingly through “digital channels”. One marketing leader joked early on that “it’s no longer about the money; it is about the experience”. The marketing and business leaders that I met with made it extremely clear that they have a sense of urgency to respond to what it saw as significant market changes on the horizon. What this company wanted to achieve was a single view of customer across each of its distribution channel as well as their agent population. Typical of many businesses today, they had determined that they needed an automated, holistic view into things like its customer history. Smartly, this business wanted to put together its existing customer data with its customer leads.
Using Data to Accelerate the Percentage Customers that are Cross Sold
Taking this step was seen as allowing them to understand when an existing customer is also a lead for another product. With this knowledge, they wanted to provide them with special offers to accelerate their conversion from lead to being a customer with more than one product. What they wanted to do here reminded me of the capabilities of 58.com, eBay, and other Internet pure plays. The reason for doing this well was described recently by Gartner. Gartner suggests that increasing business success is determined by what they call “business moments”. Without a first rate experience that builds upon what this insurance company already knows about its customers, this insurance company worries it could be increasing at risk by Internet pure plays. As important, like many businesses, the degree of cross sell is for many businesses a major determinant of whether a customer is profitable or not.
Getting Customer Data Right is Key to Developing a Winning Digital Experience
To drive a first rate digital experience, this insurance company wanted to apply advanced analytics to a single view of customer and prospect data. This would allow them to do things like conduct nearest neighbor predictive analysis and modeling. In this form of analysis, “the goal is to predict whether a new customer will respond to an offer based on how other similar customers have responded” (Data Science for Business, Foster Provost, O’Reilly, 2013, page 147).
What has limiting this business like so many others is that their customer data is scattered across many enterprise systems. For just for one division, they have more than one Salesforce instance. Yet this company’s marketing team knew to keep its customers, it needed to be able to service them omnichannel and establish a single unified customer experience. To make this happen, they needed to for the first to share holistic customer information across their ecosystems. At the same time, they knew that they would needed to protect their customer’s privacy—i.e. only certain people would be able to see certain information. They wanted by role that the ability to selective mask data and protect their customer in particular consumers by only allowing certain users in defense parlance, with a need to know, to see a subset of the holistic set of information collected. When asked about the need for a single view of customer, the digital marketing folks openly shared that they perceived the potential for external digital market entrants—ala Porter’s five forces of competition. This firm saw them either as taking market share from them or effectively disintermediating them over time them from their customers as more and more customers move their insurance purchasing of Insurance to the Web. Given the risk, their competitive advantage needed to move to knowing better their customer and being able to respond better to them on the web. This clearly included new customers that are trying to win in the language of Theodore Levitt.
Competing on Customer Experience
In sum, this insurance company smartly felt that they needed to compete on customer experience to pull out a new phrase for me and this required superior knowledge of existing and new customers. This means they needed as complete and correct view of customers as possible including addresses, connection preferences, and increasingly social media responses. This means competitively responding directly to those that have honed their skills in web design, social presence, and advanced analytics. To do this, they will create predictive capabilities that will make use of their superior customer data. Clearly, without this prescience of thinking, this moment will not be like the strategic collision of Starbucks and Fast Food Vendors where the desire to grow forced competition between the existing player and new entrants wanting to claim a portion of the existing market player’s business.
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