Holly Wilson: Are employees who aren’t in a marketing role starting to understand how valuable the customer is to the business?
MS: More and more people within the organisation are starting to understand how valuable the customer experience is to the business, but it’s a long process.
The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that trust in the insurance industry is very low, even compared to banks. This lack of trust is partly due to the low frequency of contact with customers. On average, it takes a year and a half for people to have contact with their insurance company after purchasing a policy. This means there is a long period of time where there is no touch point. Customers don’t have any relationship to the company, and there is a very low sense of loyalty, which means for most customers it’s relatively easy to switch provider. This is very evident in the motor insurance segment where price is a very important driver to stay or switch.
Is brand more important now than ever?
MS: For people to have trust in your company you need to be clear on what your brand stands for and you need to deliver the customer experience people are expecting from you.
The brand sets customer expectations for experience and customer experience is how well you deliver on those expectations. Be it customer service, product quality or just the way the customers feel about the companies they do business with, customer experience rises to the top and is the definitive factor on whether the customer will decide to keep doing business with you. Increasingly, companies are recognising the importance of delivering an experience that makes them stand out from their competition. There is a tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor or gain market share in an industry if you get the customer experience right.
What tools/technology do you use to manage your brand?
MS: If you want to be successful, you have to listen to your customers, as customer-perceived value is one of the leading drivers of business success. One of the tools we are using is the Net Promotor Score (NPS), which is a management tool used in customer experience programs. NPS measures the loyalty of customers to a company and it allows you to monitor improvements in a product, service or organisation.
This is complemented by Customer Journey Mapping which is a powerful way of visualising the customer experience over time. It helps identify gaps and points in the experience that are disjointed or painful.
As customers are given the experiences they want, satisfaction naturally increases. Moreover, as problems within the company are fixed and services are improved, employee confidence increases as well. Having a better understanding of a company’s practices and receiving extra support helps employees perform their roles with greater efficiency.
Which brands do you admire or use as inspiration?
MS: If you look at it in terms of business results, who are the successful brands? Take Apple, for example, the company grew from $29bn revenue in 2008 to $255bn in 2018 which is almost eight times as much. They put a big emphasis on NPS and the store managers are driven by NPS results. It is one of their key performance indicators and the minute a customer gives them a bad rating, the store manager must talk to the customer.
This is something we are now doing as well. We want to change the culture of our company to be more customer centric. This includes making sure that your employees believe in your brand and company. Employees can play a big role in brand advocacy and greatly influence the customer experience at many touch points.