How a legacy brand achieved a CX transformation that resulted in a 20 per cent jump in revenue

Prudential turned a sinking ship around through customer experience transformation

In 2014, Prudential Singapore was flailing. Their annual premium equivalent (APE) revenue had been falling year on year, to culminate in a $100 million APE revenue loss in 2014/15.

The oldest insurance company in Singapore, 86-year-old Prudential was responsible for more than 400,000 policies, but falling sales, continual changes in leadership, and no clear vision meant the insurance behemoth was struggling to compete in a customer-led world.

Cue Angela Hunter, who came on board as CMO at the end of 2015. Almost immediately, Hunter began doing customer research.

Customer Research

A series of marketing research studies looking for pain points, which focussed on existing and potential customers, showed customers didn’t consider Prudential differentiated from other insurers, they didn’t have propositions to address core needs, and their marketing was failing to connect.

Working from no previous vision, no budget, and with little executive faith in what she was doing, Hunter’s approach was tactical. She concentrated on quick wins first, to prove what she was doing.

Tom Mouhsian, principal analyst (CX), APAC, at Forrester, who will discuss the CX-led transformation of Prudential Singapore at Forrester's CX Sydney 2018 Forum on 10 May, said the research discovered a gap between what customers think they are prepared for, and what they actually had.

“Sixty-one per cent of customers thought they had sufficient insurance and savings to meet current and future needs [emergencies, retirement]. But in fact, only 15 per cent actually did. So that was an unaddressed need of customers that needed to be focused on,” Mouhsian told CMO.

The research also found customer needs are focused on four key areas: Medical, protection, savings, and retirement. When this was juxtaposed over the 130 products Prudential already had in market, they found only 12 products, out of 130, addressed those core needs.

“Almost 90 per cent of their products didn’t fall into those categories, so 10 per cent of the products were meeting 90 per cent of the need," Mouhsian said." So Angela discontinued all product marketing, because why were they marketing and selling those products? In addition, the research discovered no matter how much product education they did, the understanding of those products was lost on people, they still didn’t understand. So again, it was completely wasted money. She decided they were not getting any marketing ROI on that, and there were better places to spend the money."

Customer communication

Prudential then developed a customer portal, to create more face to face with customers. The platform, called PRU for You, is a Web portal for customers. Within the first month, it recruited 4000 people onto this platform to share feedback and answer questions, surveys and polls. It became a powerful vehicle to create a connection with customers and involve them in co-creation. In this way, Prudential could get the needs directly from customers, rather than guessing.

Using this platform, Prudential conducts surveys and social experiments, and then infuses the insights into its CX/service/product/digital design process.

Prudential also created a research tool, the Relationship Strength Index, which measures what people really care about. By measuring these relationships, Prudential can intervene to create value for the customers.

From there, Hunter Started to reposition its communication around lifestyle needs, product development, and sales in the areas that actually mattered to customers.

“Over three months, the company retrained all agents to change the conversation they were having with customers, to the conversations customers actually wanted to have,” Mouhsian said. “They had the right talking points, and they removed the barriers that exist because of sales practices, which used to be focused around product sales. They changed the motivation system and how people sell, and started to encourage people who were selling based on customer need instead.”

Prudential also decentralised the CX practice by engaging and empowering other departments, and raised internal collaboration through regular ‘voice of employees’ campaigns, cross-functional co-creation activities, and effective use of champions in various departments.

Technology

Prudential changed the way they underwrite policies, by introducing PRU Express for agents to log interest and expedite the on-boarding process. What used to take 30 days was reduced to a week.

It equipped agents with technology and portable devices, tools to help them sell faster, advise the customer better, and log the paperwork faster, and this created velocity in the sales process, which also allowed them to grow sales.

“The old approach of dumping a bunch of marketing budget, that doesn’t work anymore,” Mouhsian explained. “Customers demand more, they demand more information, and they demand personalisation and trust. Demand has shifted and the level of rigor that has to be deployed is much higher.

“Hunter’s strategy was to address things that were doable quickly, and take away barriers by using insights and facts."

From there, a digital suite of solutions could be created. Along with the customer platform, employees contribute ideas as well, and Prudential created a program to measure and capture this in improvement programs and innovation programs.

“Prudential developed enterprise-level solutions that customers wanted and integrated them into overall technology capabilities. There is now more on mobile, more on Web, more portable devices for agents, and more cloud servicing," Mouhsian said.

“There’s a Chabot developed by IBM Watson, which is a conversational user interface, which has generated faster service, personalised service, and has driven results and sales. It also implemented Salesforce and is migrating applications onto cloud to become more agile.

“Prudential even moved to a new office with a new design to elevate morale and collaboration.”

Results

With the imperative to produce results, Prudential had already had several years of disappointment, there were commercial expectations, and Hunter had to justify the vision was legit,” Mouhsian explained.

“At the end of 2016, all these changes started to align and results starting flowing. Previously the sales from agents versus banks was about a 70/30 split. Now, it’s shifted to 50/50, because Prudential re-engaged with banking partners, resulting in much better sales. At end of 2016, the company had a phenomenal quarter, they beat everyone and captured over 20 per cent market share in Q4 alone. This is one fifth of the total market, and there are 22 insurance companies in Singapore. This was proof of concept.

“In 16-17, new business sales jumped to $795 million, up from $656 million the year before, which was a 20 per cent increase.”

A new CEO came in, saw the transformation, and asked what Hunter needed to continue.

In 2017/18, Prudential has a formalised a transformation office, chaired by the CEO, and created new positions. These included hiring a CTO/CIO, promoting Hunter from CMO to CCO, and recruiting a head of customer and digital.

“This joining of customer and digital was important. These functions should not be siloed and should not be competing, they should work together,” Mouhsian said.

“The organisation is now no longer product-centric; it has a customer-centric organisation model. In the first instance in the industry, Prudential created a segment-oriented management model around key customer segments. This is a huge power shift. They created the PRU Cube, a framework that ties together channels, segments, products, and governance. Segment managers run their segments’ needs, to guarantee segment profitability and performance, not product performance.

“This has reinforced the power of the CCO and the importance of this. The decisions are being made by the people who have the customer in mind first. In some organisations, the CMO is cosmetic only, whereas the smart companies are recognising CMOs have everything to do with revenue.

“This should be how companies operate, with the customer first and foremost. This kind of transformation has led to the revival of a legacy brand to the point where it almost feels like a startup.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu  

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