Suncorp touts marketplace investment for customer payoffs in latest financials

Insurance and banking giant outlines investments made to date in its connected customer strategy, future plans, and their impact on half-year revenues

Suncorp’s CEO and managing director has attributed a key focus on elevating the needs of customers and its emerging marketplace approach for a “solid” top-line performance across the ASX-listed insurance and banking giant in the first half.

Suncorp reported group top-line growth of 2.5 per cent for the half to 31 December 2017, and net profit after tax of $452 million, down from $537 million year-on-year. Among the highlights were a 3.9 per cent increase in Australian home and motor insurance gross written premiums (GWP), bank lending growth of 8.7 per cent, and a 56 per cent rise in underlying profit on the Australian life insurance division.

Suncorp CEO and managing director, Michael Cameron, said an increased focus on the group’s four strategic priorities, and in particular, elevating the needs of customers, had been instrumental in the results. Suncorp’s four strategic priorities are ‘elevating the customer, create the marketplace, maintain moment and grow the business, and inspire our people’. Its brands include AAMI, GIO, Bingle, AA Insurance and APIA.

“Our work over the past 18 months in our claims processes, improvements in our customer experience, a hardening insurance market and our strategic investment programs, position the business well for the second half,” Cameron said.

Bringing its brands together to fulfil customer needs is key to the group’s vision of long-term success. Suncorp unveiled its ‘One Suncorp’ strategy back in 2016, uniting five previously separate businesses into one business model and commencing plans to create a ‘marketplace’ of brands that leverage integrated third-party components and a common digital platform to better connect with customers. This involves building an ecosystem of partners that will provide a suite of relevant products and services and that customers can tap into in one place to suit their individual needs.

Read more: CMO Momentum 2017: Why Suncorp's Mark Reinke sees platform-based business as the way of the future

Digitising the business is vital in achieving these ambitions, Cameron said. “By building the capability quickly, we are seeing faster adoption by customers and faster delivery of business benefits,” he said.

Cameron pointed out zero touch claims are now cover one-third of the group’s online motor claims portfolio, while digital interactions are up by 19 per cent since this time last year, and customer complaints are down 10 per cent. In total, Suncorp has 1.68 million digital users, with the proportion of digital claims now at 11.6 per cent thanks to 67 million digital interactions. Self-service transactions were also up by 20 per cent.

Over the first half of the year, Suncorp invested $36 million in its marketplace acceleration program and has allocated $142 million in pre-tax investment in FY18 to accelerate the marketplace strategy. In its financial report, the group said progress had been made in six areas: Single customer experience, a national rollout of its core brand refresh, journeys and integrated officers, third-party partnerships, customer reward and recognition, and other enabling technology.

One example was a pilot reward and recognition program across brands, which attracted 55,000 users. This will be scaled up the offering over the second half. Suncorp and AAMI customers were also given a single view across insurance and banking products, and 34 store updates were also made to support the Suncorp overarching brand.

In line with Suncorp’s connected customer efforts, a big priority going into the second half is getting the percentage of customers holding more than one product across the portfolio up, a move that will drive longer tenure and better outcomes for customers and shareholders, the company said in its financial report. To help, Suncorp will launch its new app in the second half.

At present, 35 per cent of customers hold multiple products. Those how hold four products are nine times the value of those with just one product line, the company stated. To help, four integrated offers were launched during the first half, providing customers with incentives to connect to other key products.

Other listed priorities for the rest of the financial year are further embedding the customer culture, enhancing process improvements and self-service options, working to better unify the digital experience, and completing the brand refresh.

Overall, Suncorp reported a consumer Net Promoter Score of +7.6 and 82 per cent customer retention across the business.

According to Cameron, Suncorp expects its business improvement program will deliver net benefits of $10m in the 2018 financial year, $195m in FY19 and $329m in FY20.

“This program creates capacity to invest in our customer initiatives in the short term, and reduce our ongoing cost base over the long term,” he said. “The customer service initiatives under marketplace are designed to be a key source of differentiator, driving broader relationships with customers.”

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