Brand refresh leads frank to launch private health insurance voice app

Head of the brand explains how the digital-only private health insurance company is looking to simplify things for consumers

A brand reset and commitment to simplifying health insurance for Australia’s younger consumers has led frank to launch what it claims is the first voice app for the private health industry.

Head of frank health insurance as well as marketing leader for parent company GMHBA, Diane Pavlicevic, told CMO the voice app and supporting campaign followed a brand review leading up to frank’s tenth birthday anniversary. When launched by 85-year old GMHBA in 2009, frank was the first digital-only brand in the private health insurance space, with a simple proposition and product offer.

Over the years, however, things became more complicated, the competitive landscape changed, and target customers became digital natives that demand brands engage with them on their terms, Pavlicevic said. Frank’s target market is new entrants to the private health insurance space as well as millennials.

“We knew it was time to reset, and gain a fresh understanding of our target market and their attitudes,” she said. “We went through a brand review 18 months ago, reviewing the market. What we found was the entire market is trying to solve ‘health’, rather than insurance. We thought, perhaps we should just step it back, and solve the health insurance challenge.

“We’ve set ourselves the ambition of being the easiest health insurance in the world – in terms of how we interact with customers, speak to people, and the products we build. It’s about simplifying everything.”

Frank’s target market consumers are increasingly demanding brands they deal with to be open, honest and fit into their lifestyles, Pavlicevic continued. “They want you to proactively solve problems for them and offer effortless, accessible service, deliver what you say and better connect with them.”

As part of its brand rejuvenation work with agency, whiteGrey, the idea of a voice app for the Google Assistant came up. Upon its debut, the frank app could handle about 200 voice-based questions or about 500 sentences, relating to those frequently asked of its frontline staff and teams.

For inquiries the team has not yet had before, machine learning kicks in, allowing internal teams to capture then start to answer those questions via voice. To get access, users ask their Google Assistant to ‘speak to frank insurance’.

Given 23 per cent of Australians now own a voice-activated smart speaker – a larger percentage of which are younger consumers - Pavlicevic said a voice app proved a no-brainer in lifting frank’s SEO and digital engagement.

“Not only is it a clear demonstration of the ‘easy as’ proposition that defines frank so well, it sets up the brand to continue innovating in the future,” she said.

WhiteGrey head of technology, Juan Garcia, said the voice app is targeting members plus non-members, serving as a customer utility as well as an articulation of frank’s brand ethos.

“With the cross-channel voice era now well and truly here, service categories like private health insurance are looking for innovative ways to keep up with public expectations and simplicity and convenience,” he commented. “With imminent changes to the category in the future, an app for consumers to easily get the right answers was a great opportunity to set the frank brand apart.”

It was also relatively easy to set up, with the app sitting on Google Cloud independently of frank’s internal systems. Longer term, Pavlicevic agreed there was an opportunity to hook up systems and further expand the app’s capabilities. The company is also investing in its content capabilities internally to support its wider digital engagement push.

“We are at the infancy stage; the next step is to look at the blanks to have standardised responses for those, and continue to propagate the back-end,” she said. “We’re working on the next phase of plans… we’re endeavouring to take a fail fast approach.”

Alongside the voice app, frank has established a media partnership with Spotify, along with an awareness brand campaign which will incorporate digital and social advertising and content. It’s also invested in native advertising with Gizmodo, Lifehacker and Outbrain, all in the name of elevating brand awareness in channels and places the target audience are interacting in.

“Two years ago, we went off TV to go to a pure digital investment in order to connect with our target market,” Pavlicevic said. “TV was great for mass reach, but as a not-for-profit, we don’t have a huge amount of media spend, and we had to be more savvy about activities.”

The landscape has certainly changed since frank launched 10 years ago, Pavlicevic added. “We assumed back then that customers were young and self-assured and that attitudes would be the same today. Today’s customers are digital natives and you can’t just push your brand, you have to fit into their lives and solve problems for them.

“What we found through our research is that these consumers are happy to forgo add-ons and bonuses but want to know exactly what they pay for.”

Check out more brands getting into voice apps to bolster engagement

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