When you put the ‘Customer First’, you start with anticipating what the customer will want, ensuring you provide it and then navigating the customer through it
By Sonia Notani
Management Guru, Peter Drucker has famously quoted ‘The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic.’ There is no greater truth applicable to any brand, organisation, or marketer today. The ‘not so new’ normal has redefined not only our priorities and choices but our perspectives and mediums. At this juncture, we need to not only respond but also need to anticipate.
The proof of the pudding lies in the ability to anticipate, direct, and navigate the customer through a superior, customised experience while delivering on a promise that meets their needs. Elaborating on the same –
- Anticipate: ‘Regard as Probable; Expect or Predict.’ — We can safely say that the past year was hardly one that could be anticipated. However, those with digitised processes, business continuity plans and most importantly, agile teams; managed to stay ahead. Going forward though, we cannot afford to work on agility, and short turnaround times alone. We need to ‘anticipate’ expectations basis what has evolved in the last year.
- Digital Adoption: Digital immigrants who have embarked on the curve of online information, access, and engagement; have accelerated their learning tremendously. We have moved from information to decision making, choosing to buying, checking to servicing! It is imperative to keep this momentum on all future process adoptions and what we are offering to our customers. For instance, At IndiaFirst Life, we went multi-lingual on our website and our communication to cater to digital immigrants across the length and breadth of our country. We will continue to strengthen and cultivate our regional capabilities on digital platforms; be it website or voice.
- Empathy: We are suddenly more aware of our own morbidity and mortality risks. Assurance is now critical. An Insurance brand needs to anticipate this and enable correct product fitments and solutions that help safeguard the future of customers and their loved ones.
2. Direct: ‘To Manage or Guide by Advice, Helpful Information, Instruction…’ — Anticipating customer needs is not enough to enable a fruitful outcome. We have to provide relevant information and easy access to customers.
- Content, Content, Content: Content is material that piques the interest of the audience it is meant for. The medium and context fortify the reach of the content. We need to ensure that we provide accurate information through a relevant medium in an appropriate context. A brand must lead the customer to make an informed decision that is duly validated.
- Provide Enablement & Control: Brands have to direct the customers to make an informed choice customised to their needs. This is possible through transparency and access to information. We, at IndiaFirst Life, have enhanced our customer outreach 3x from the previous years through SMS and e-mail and enabled a robust Voice of Customer (VoC) program for real time feedback and service recovery. We have enabled a multitude of self-service portal options for immediate access and control.
3. Navigate: ‘Travel on A Desired Course After Planning A Route’ — Last but not the least, we need a desirable outcome for all stakeholders. The potential customer has to purchase a product he/she believes solves a need, whether latent or explicit. He/She must commit to a long-term promise to build certainties for his family
- Access and Purchase: A customer should be able to access multiple touch points for validation and purchase. More often than not, we need a nudge in the right direction at the right time. As an insurance brand we need to provide access at the point of nudge or decision making; whether through distributors, agents or online purchase. One version of truth needs to exist with complete information encouraging a final decision irrespective of the touch point.
- Handholding Through the Journey: Purchase is the beginning of a long-term journey with any brand. The brand experience and engagement have to be navigated to encourage customer stickiness whether through repeat purchase or loyalty for the long run (as is needed in Insurance). Regular engagement and service opportunity strengthens the association and moves a customer from a transaction to loyalty and finally, testimony.
Any brand, organisation or product is not important because of its inherent features or structure; but because of the value a customer derives from ownership or association. When you put the ‘customer first’, you start with anticipating what the customer will want, ensuring you provide it and then navigating the customer through it.
To conclude with a quote from the proven guru in pre-empting great customer experience, Steve Jobs, who wisely stated – “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.”
The author is CMO at IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Limited