5 lessons from AMP on deploying marketing automation

Customer experience team leaders share how they brought together customer analytics, marketing technology and a culture of customer-first thinking

Australian wealth and financial management giant, AMP, is on a multi-year, customer-led digital transformation journey that stretches from replacing core infrastructure to building a customer goals-oriented culture.

As part of these efforts, the group’s marketing operational capabilities have undergone a shake-up, driven by the adoption of a marketing automation platform in just nine months.

During the recent IBM Amplify conference in Tampa, two of AMP’s customer experience team talked through the critical success factors they learned along the way and how these are contributing to providing seamless omni-channel experiences to customers.

Success factor 1: Get strategic alignment

AMP head of customer analytics, Aidan McDermott, said the group needed to evolve its approach in order to meet changing client expectations, particularly around accessibility.

“Customers expect to be able to access us through any channel at any time of the day,” he told attendees. “But what dawned on us around 2012 was the need to go omni-channel – not just provide a Web and face-to-face advice channel, but to integrate those.”

Key to this was integrating AMP’s B2B, B2C and B2B2C capabilities, McDermott said. It was also about identifying goals within each customer’s lifecycle and ensuring products and services helped them reach those, while tracking their progress along the way. To do this, AMP needed customer data and analytics, an event detection capability and an engine to respond to those events with personalised and timely communications.

Previously, customers mainly interacted with AMP through advisors, campaign management was based in Excel, and data and analytics was rudimentary.

Such transformational change made strategic alignment an imperative, McDermott said.

“As is often the case, this wasn’t a solution looking for problem, or a marketing-led initiative or a great IT idea, this came from the executive committee all the way down,” he said. “Everyone knew who we were when we set out on this journey looking at capability, and what we were trying to achieve, so it meant we avoided an enormous amount of conflict.”

AMP also focused its analytics activities on what McDermott described as the bottom end of triangle, or providing front-line decision makers with insights into customers. “Everything we did was built for the purpose of decision automation, and we didn’t get distracted by other applications of analytics,” he said.

Success factor 2: Build a single customer view

AMP’s technology transformation consisted of three parts: Put in a new master data management solution to consolidate a single customer view and capture information on customers to orchestrate across all channels; a customer analytics platform in the cloud for event detection and profiling; and then a customer interactions platform, which performs the inbound and outbound conversations.

Aiding AMP’s efforts was previous investment into building a single customer view, which provided the foundation to build master data management plans for customer engagement, McDermott said.

“On the flip side, we didn’t have an analytics or interactions capability, so we had white space to do this properly, there was no legacy stuff we had to map over,” he said. “We could build for the future.”

Success factor 3: Assemble the right team

AMP head of customer interactions and customer solutions, Matt Cammack, said there were then five steps to the program of work.

Step one, and the foundation of ensuring success, was building a multi-disciplinary team, he said. He noted there aren’t many people available with existing marketing automation or customer-led data skillsets, and admitted AMP took a couple of false steps before getting its people capability right.

It’s also vital to acknowledge the limitations of your own team, then augmenting to get the right mix of skills, Cammack said.

“What we did well was we hired and assembled the team that was going to run this at the end of the project and embedded them in the project,” he said. “We went out to market and found good subject matter experts to help us with the delivery, but we benefitted from our own IT teams going through a transformation to an Agile-driven methodology. Bringing all those elements together meant we assembled a team that was able to make bold decisions quickly, and that wasn’t inhibited by an old state of play. It’s important to find that balance between innovation and pragmatism as you go.”

Three months later in July 2015, the team delivered its first piece of capability: A new database based on analytics, in a private cloud, supported by a centralised decisioning engine integrated with email, SMS and the outbound call centre.

“We deliberately tried to consolidate – we made a decision to choose one email system and bring everyone on to that,” Cammack continued. “This meant we were able to reproduce and do targeted, automated activities at scale.

“Importantly, for the first time, we were collecting feedback and behavioural information on what customers were doing with our communication… we started to become a source of information we could use to improve the types of marketing we did. This had a nice benefit, in that our own marketing team started to think differently and innovate.”

Step three launched in September was adding inbound insights into information provided to AMP’s contact centre staff.

“This was about making decisions in real time based on customer insights, and providing prompted information to our call centre agents to help them have better conversations,” Cammack said. “We receive seven times more inbound calls then we’re able to make outbound calls in a year.”

This ‘next best interactions’ engine was about ensuring AMP was providing that decision automation and putting the data and insights in the hands of front-line staff, Cammack said.

“You can’t just take away the human-to-human element… it’s about conjoining those skills with data elements,” he added.

Success factor 4: Keep the project management team together

McDermott said retaining the same team from start to finish, so they learned and mastering AMP systems, processes and technology together, was a huge benefit and provided speed.

“If we’d paused or taken a breather, it would have been virtually impossible to pull together that unique group of people again,” he commented.

Success factor 5: Go for omni-channel, not just digital experience

Step four was taking the inbound decisioning engine and applying personalisation to AMP’s digital states. This included personalising messages and tiles on the group’s authenticated site as well as tablet and mobile app.

“This was technically quite challenging to do, especially in terms of getting the right content types. You have to pay attention to the overall customer experience,” Cammack said.

A major benefit was that digital team were open to working with the CX team to make digital part of an omni-channel solution, McDermott said. He labelled this critical success factor number five.

“They were also helpful in making us understand how to make our personalisation feel seamless across the experience a person has across the website,” he said. “You have to think about where you are placing content and what content, as well as the style of that content.”

In turn, this digital real estate gave the team an ability to test marketing content such as banners or messages before rolling out wider campaigns, Cammack said.

“We’re also collecting online behaviour information. If a customer logs in, it’s a reasonably significant event and a good indicator that you’re thinking about your finances. Building outbound campaigns based on that data is really effective,” he said.

The final step was launched in January, and saw new capabilities delivered to AMP’s advisor channel. These included a new centralised engine featuring on-demand campaigns and ‘Mytime alerts’, which highlighted customer triggers and events using first-party and third-party data.

“By collecting that information in real-time, we’re able to push to it out to advisors on the same day so they can make contact with their customers,” Cammack said.

However, the duo agreed the nine-month program to date was just the start of AMP’s next-gen marketing journey.

“As build moves into run, we have a different set of challenges,” McDermott added. “Having marketing automation doesn’t make you a good marketer overnight, it gives you the ability to run tests, learn things and improve on them.”

- Nadia Cameron travelled to IBM Amplify as a guest of IBM.

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