What I learned at a CX Insurance Conference

I recently attended the CX Insurance conference in London – excellently hosted by Kim Palfrey and the team at IQPC. From a customer experience (CX) perspective, this sector has always fascinated me in terms of what it could potentially become. So

we spent an afternoon putting together a general overall picture of the CX maturity of the industry, and a few interesting, thought-provoking themes emerged.

Take the low-hanging fruit

Like it or not, the low-hanging fruit within CX is fading from sight, and rapidly so! Customers are raising their expectations within each and every sector, rarely distinguishing organizations from one another when it comes to an overall standard. Which, frankly, is to be expected. We are becoming decreasingly ‘sector-specific’. Whether I call the bank to report my lost card, order my groceries online or visit the local florist, I expect a certain standard, derived from having observed and experienced the Amazon level of ‘frictionless business’ and the Ocado level of customer service.

Companies in the sector appear to now be really getting to grips with this, and have also achieved this stage by focusing on the basics of ‘pain reduction’ i.e. fixing points in customer journeys.

Much of this has been gathered through measurement and a stronger understanding of the experiences customers go through, when accessing propositions. This has allowed organisations to remove the pain points in processes and bring the customer journey back on to an even keel – from an experience perspective.

Overlaying this with a level of pro-active Insight – through qualitative and quantitative research – allows the low hanging fruit to be accessed. In this sense, we are not reviewing the existing experience to say ‘where is the pain?’ – rather we have moved the debate on. We are now asking customers ‘what could be improved, and contribute to a more compelling experience – particuarly at points in the journey that really matter?’

So, overall positive stuff – and a step in the right direction for a sector which still (in my humble opinion) needs a shot in the arm.

Cross Pollinate to win

My second theme concerns cross-pollination, or rather the lack of it. As we moved through the agenda during the day there was a clear need for the sector to explore this more ‘aggressively’.

In our experience organisations which do this achieve considerable benefit from it. In short, the ability to go out and understand best practice from exemplar organisations across multiple sectors drives not only new ideas but potentially new networks, new collaborations and more responsive tactics to threats and risks. Time and again we work with clients to deliver “Customer Experience Safari’s” *(1) which we use to educate, align and immerse leadership teams in what truly customer-led businesses look like. The responses to this are always positive; the benefits are always strong. So the lesson here is learn to look outside. You’ll be surprised at what you might find.

Harness the power of a Customer Strategy

Finally, and most importantly, what emerged from all the sessions was the importance of a leadership mandate and a clear ‘strategy’ around the Customer. We ran a session at the end of the day around a framework *(2) for Customer centricity; essentially comprising of six attributes or pillars: i) customer strategy ii) insight iii) design iv) delivery v) measurement and vi) culture.

Pulling all of these together is vital – and that is, in part, the job of a customer strategy. Such a strategy needs to chorale and bring the organisation together around the customer. It needs to articulate a target experience for the customer; ascertain clear ownership for the customer; provide a link to the macro (or ‘corporate level’) strategy of the organisation and lay out – in detail – how capabilities such as Insight, Design, Delivery and Measurement come together – to deliver for the customer.

And if this can be done, then the journey to customer-centricity can begin.

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About the author: Paul Allen is a UK-based consultant who leads the change and transformation practice Comotion http://www.comotional.com . He has worked in both large-scale and boutique consulting firms over the past 17 years and has sector experience across a number of industries – including Retail; Banking & Financial Services; FMCG; Manufacturing; Utilities and Public Sector. Follow him on twitter @paulallenlondon or contact him via LinkedIn

*(1) – for more details on CX Safari’s see http://www.cx-safari.com 

*(2) – our framework for customer led businesses is based on initial thinking and writing by Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning, which is excellently captured in their 2012 book “Outside In”. Credit must go to them, for this initial thinking.