Most financial services brands talk big about customer-focus; some of them even mean it. But making it actually happen inside a business – among tens of thousands of employees across nine countries – is a serious challenge.
This international life and pension insurer asked us how to start, where to start and how to manage the wider implications of becoming a customer centric-business.
Strategy is meaningless without implementation
The theory of customer-centricity is fairly simple. In fact the board members of this European banking and insurance giant had their strategic direction pretty much finished. It was the next bit they wanted to get right. The right strategy ‘done wrong’ can live a short hard life and die before its time.
All Futurelab advisers have held senior Customer Experience management positions within big corporations. We know that a top-down approach to change meets with, at best, apathy, or more likely, quiet resistance from the people who have to implement it. Not because those people are lazy or ignorant, but because they’re busy running your business and because they’re human.
Where to start: the bottom
Our first step was to study thousands of pages of customer research covering tens of thousands of customer interviews already collected by the regional life insurance offices. It was a signal that we would be building on work they’d done, not building over it. We then held a series of workshops with country representatives where we put forward the Futurelab view of the customer journey – a map of the significant steps in the life insurance lifecycle, from pre-purchase to claim.
Though we put serious work into this early hypothesis, we set it up partly so we could watch it being shot down. We’ve learned that when people are shooting something down, they’re shaping a better version – one they’re invested in, one they own.
How to start: with a promise
This is where theory meets reality. We took the agreed customer journey and asked the client to make ambitious but achievable customer promises for each step. We asked each country to prioritize six of the promises and set KPIs for each: tangible, measurable targets that will show whether they’d kept their promise. We validated all the KPIs with customer research: to double-check we we’d chosen things customers really cared about, to benchmark current performance and to provide a baseline against which to measure improvement. Ready to go.
Each country passionately presented their own customer centricity strategy at the company’s annual conference and all conclusions are being implemented in each market. While staying in the background, Futurelab had played several important roles in this process:
- Representing the voice of the customer, keeping the mission front of mind
- Spotting overlaps and duplicated activity between countries, forming regional mini-hubs to share learning
- Reporting back to Head Office, keeping executives involved in the process, gaining sign-off for regional KPIs
- Imagining the future beyond customer satisfaction: customer delight
If you want to be more customer-centric but aren’t sure where to start, please get in touch for an informal discussion.