CMO50 #19: Cameron Pearson, Cover-More Group
Travel insurance provider, Cover-More, describes its director of growth, innovation and marketing, Cameron Pearson, as a specialist in customer-centric strategy and brand performance.
It’s no wonder then, that he considers “lateral thinking” to be the CMO’s most valuable attribute.
Pearson has built up strong commercial acumen from many years in senior and highly accountable sales and marketing roles, including 10 years' in the travel insurance and medical assistance industries.
Prior to joining Cover-More, Pearson was director of growth, innovation and marketing for Asia-Pacific at Allianz Global Assistance for six-and-a-half years. Before that, he ran sales and marketing for the Allianz-owned Mondial Assistance brand. He also spent 18 months as a partner at corporate consultancy, Reinventures Asia-Pacific.
Empowered and long-term thinking
At Cover-More, the CMO role is focused on cementing customer-led innovation as a company-wide growth driver. Recently, this saw Pearson’s team introduce a strategic innovation tool to the business with three clear objectives for the next 1-2 years. These are:
- To establish a common language, mindset, methodology and approach for choosing winning customer value propositions (VPs), as well as designing winning value delivery systems (VDSs) to deliver customer value profitably.
- To review precepts for how business teams can systematically ‘spend a day in the life’ of target customer communities - those who are crucial to Cover-More’s global growth ambitions - in order to creatively infer their current unmet needs.
- To plot a path forward for validating, modifying and launching these options, transforming good ideas into commercial outcomes.
From the CMO50 submission
Business contribution and innovation
Cover-More is a major player in the travel insurance sector in Australia. The foundation stone of the business was travel agency networks, although increasingly, online and intermediary providers and competition from credit card insurance have seen the company successfully pursue channel diversification. The challenge is to simultaneously maintain the integrity of the agency channel and counter the commoditisation of travel insurance.
Since joining Cover-More in late 2011, Pearson has sought to challenge the inside-out thinking of the business and driven customer centricity as a collective responsibility. One way he’s achieved this is by championing a new customer value proposition (CVP) for the travel agency channel. This saw Cover-More develop its own branded Cover-More Global SIM product to include in the agency insurance offer.
The company became the first travel insurer in the world to include a free Global SIM with travel insurance. The value for the end customer/traveller is being able to experience more while avoiding bill shock when they are overseas.
Seven months after its launch, Cover-More had saved travellers more than $3 million in global roaming charges, and uptake and success is still growing, the CMO50 submission stated. It’s also given the company a way of connecting with customers before, during and after they travel, not just when they need help or claim.
Modern marketing and customer engagement thinking and effectiveness
Another way Pearson has fostered customer-centric thinking is by introducing ‘DITLOC’ (day-in-the-life-of-customer) methodology to the business. Today, Cover-More’s most valuable competitive advantage is its ability to live a day in the life of a customer and continually evolve and enhance the customer experience, the CMO50 submission stated.
Thanks to the Global SIM product offering, Cover-More also offers the potentially lifesaving benefit of being able to geo-locate customers when disaster strikes, such as the earthquakes in Nepal in April.
In FY2015, Pearson led development of a customer value proposition for travel insurance and medical assistance based on engagement with customers before, during and after their trip. The new proposition, which launched in August, is about helping customers to ‘keep travelling’ and is driven by the idea that travellers need more than just cover when the unexpected happens.
“Travellers need a team of experts who know how to help, whether travellers need an antihistamine or an ambulance, to replace a lost passport or stolen suitcase, or whether their child has a fever and they seek the best course of action from an Australian-based GP through Cover-More’s new TravelGP telemedicine service,” Cover-More said in the CMO50 submission.
The company said the ‘keep travelling’ customer value proposition wraps together unprecedented value in the Australian travel insurance sector: TravelGP + Global SIM + pre-travel security and health checks + 24 hour emergency medical assistance + online and telephone claims.
Data and/or technology driven approach
Underpinning Pearson’s customer-led approach are major technological improvements to link Cover-More’s core policy issuing platform with a major travel agency network’s own issuing platform. This has halved the time taken to issue a travel insurance policy in-store and led to double-digit improvement in sales conversion.
The inefficiency of the previous system came to light through the DITLOC process, when marketing team members sought to ‘become’ travel consultants by spending time with agents in their stores and at their desks. Through this, they gained an understanding of the agent’s frustrations and unmet needs, beyond what the customers themselves could imagine on their own.
“As a result of this process, we gained deep insights across all aspects of our travel insurance offering – what was working and what needed work, where opportunities exist and what challenges had to be overcome,” the submission stated.
Off the back of this, Cover-More introduced a new level of integration between its B2B and agency partner’s system, halving the amount of time consultants spend quoting travel insurance for customers. Together with product simplification, this contributed to an immediate improvement in insurance strike rate of between 5 per cent and 8 per cent.
In addition, Cover-More introduced a new platform feature designed to keep consultants tracking towards sales targets, constantly reminding them how they are progressing, recognising top performers and giving consultants a specific measure of their performance against their peers. This is aligned with the travel agency network’s high performance culture and supported commonly agreed performance targets.
As a B2B business, Cover-More said its aim is to engage both its customers and their end customers. One of the more creative ways it has done so in the past two years is via innovative, short animated movies that demonstrate its CVP to Australian travel consultants and that engage them in its ideas and brand.
“It’s an own-able look that gives a more recognisable presence to the brand, helping people relate to, and get on board with Cover-More and what it stands for,” the company said in the submission.
“This has been a highly successful medium for Cover-More in the retail agency channel where loyalty to Cover-More travel insurance is not a given despite preferred supplier status.”