What Medibank did to flip from product thinking to personalised marketing and service

Medibank GM brand and marketing talks through the marketing and customer technology transformation it's been pursuing and the customer experience outcomes it's delivering


Customer journey design at Medibank has transformed from products and interaction plotting to acting on personalised health moments thanks to a customer technology transformation.

Speaking to CMO during the recent Salesforce World Tour virtual event in Sydney, Medibank GM of brand and marketing, Fiona Le Brocq, shared how the health insurance provider tackled the challenge of insourcing marketing and customer technology platforms, the business and customer triggers for such a significant investment, and the resulting personalisation, customer interaction and media improvements off the back of it.

Step 1: Build capability in-house

While Medibank had been using Salesforce platforms for about 10 years, it had multiple distinct instances being managed externally. Four years ago, the decision was made to insource technology and capability not only as a big efficiency play, but also as a way to meet a public commitment to being more customer centric. The group operates two key brands: Medibank and ahm.  

Marketing Cloud was the inaugural technology in the spotlight, and Le Brocq said one of the first things marketing set up was a good partnership with IT.

“In the past, a lot of martech has sat in IT, but you need to understand customer to understand where the power is in managing these platforms and the data,” she said.

“Our insourced approach helped us manage costs and control and build bridges with IT while we manage this platform in marketing. We’ve built a great team, capability, good IP and had the benefit of our staff understanding the whole journey as we’ve done it.”

Today, Medibank is using Salesforce Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, Audience Studio (data management platform), Social and Ad Studio. The martech stack also include Adobe Experience Manager as well as Google. Medibank is now exploring Service Cloud.

Step 2: Focus on learning and governance

Another huge focus area was team capability and development. “Our first thought was we could just migrate existing campaigns to Marketing Cloud. That’s now evolving around capability,” Le Brocq said.

A specialised marketing automation was established, which in the early days, developed an internal education program to help staff skill up. More recently, Medibank has been harnessing Salesforce’s Trailblazer learning platform to lift capability.

“In year one, we set up the marketing automation program as a project, and the correct enterprise governance for this. We based the business case the program on a three-year plan to get sufficient funding, with a dual brand approach,” Le Brocq explained, noting Medibank’s two brands run on separate systems.

“That governance has really helped us, as it’s not just our practitioners involved - they report up to a steering committee making guidance and recommendations on the way through, helping us take an enterprise mindset. That’s a cross-functional group, which ensures connections are happening across the board.”

It was also clear there wasn’t one person who could lead the marketing automation program. So Medibank combined resources, bringing someone in as program director with strong business requirements understanding; then someone with as much deep technical experience as was available.

“Pairing these capabilities has worked really well from a business perspective,” Le Brocq said. “In terms of understanding business requirements, it means we start with customer needs. Technically, that also allows us to see how to enable this to create a better customer experience.”  

Step 3: Rethink customer journey design

In terms of external experiences, Medibank’s first priority was on service and member engagement. So far, the group has enabled SMS and email-based communications to build an increasingly personalised approach across channels.

“Our first journeys were very ‘PHI’ [private health insurance] focused and concentrated on customer service around hospital and extras,” Le Brocq said. A big learning has been to think about journey design in a more relevant way.

“As the business evolved to health and wellbeing outcomes, we had to think about health journeys very differently. We used to look at an interaction journey, now it’s lifecycle-led,” Le Brocq continued. “We have introduced various other health services, and we now think about the health states people are in, and build journeys around that, identifying the moments that matter most in those.”  

One example is the work done in the past 18 months to improve the end-to-end hospital experience for policyholders.

“We get a trigger when people go to hospital, but it had been happening a little late in the game. One thing we’ve been able to do is determine earlier when they’re going to hospital, then support that journey throughout,” Le Brocq said.

“We built a custom audience and journey for going to hospital, allowing us to deliver content before customers go to hospital to manage expectations, and to encourage them to come to us to work out extra costs. When they come home, we share how we can support them with things like rehab in the home. That helps customers recover faster and relieves the burden on hospitals. We weren’t previously about to do that.”  

Secondly, the martech capability allows the team to identify those not currently using their Medibank extras benefits. “We now have a journey to encourage people to use their extras as that’s when they see their value in the product,” Le Brocq said.  

Work over time has also extended to the acquisitions journey and onboarding around a Medibank policy.

“We have achieved significant media efficiencies from this as we’ve become better at targeting and understanding what people are responding to,” Le Brocq said. “We’ve revised the whole on-boarding journey, so we can go much deeper on personalisation, then continue to improve member engagement through those health stages.

“We are still on the journey – we haven’t achieved omnichannel integration for instance, as we still need to integrate in retail and call centre channels. Once we have those in, we’ll be fully integrated and able to be so much more consistent, identifying and fostering better customer experiences.”

From a data perspective, most of the work relies on Medibank’s policy management tool, and the group has been working to build a strong single customer view. With all customer data warehoused in one place, Le Brocq said it’s increasingly enabling teams to share effortlessly data back and forth.

Step 4: Personalise for relevancy

Of course, with 3.7 million customers, knowing what journeys and activities to priorities is a constant challenge. To help guide the way, Le Brocq said the emphasis is on solving customer problems.

“You can personalise to the nth degree, but I’m not sure customers are looking to us to do that, it’s about solving the problem,” she commented. “We use information or insights we have garnered on the journey to make something more relevant.

“As an industry, our big challenge is relevance, particularly with younger cohorts. Where we’re able to personalise to deliver information customers need at the right time, we will improve value – it’s a cliché, but it’s about right time, channel and message.”

What’s clear is health states vary dramatically by policyholder. “Sometimes you get an indication through life stage, but often it’s very a personal journey,” Le Brocq said.

“Looking at a macro level, you can infer certain things, but there’s a need to capture important data on the way through so you ensure you’re important to them. Going to hospital is an example. We don’t want to send that person other information, so we pull them out as an audience to ensure they’re opted out of always-on communications.”

Another milestone achievement for Le Brocq on the customer experience front is Medibank’s customer activity statements. Thee take personalised information to provide members with an understanding of their limits, what they have used to date, and recommendations on how to use their extras.

“This plays to affordability, a significant issue for the whole industry, and demonstrating where people get more value,” she said. “That’s a core program, and one of the most personalised executions at the moment.”  

Step 5: Gauge external and internal success

A key measure of success for Medibank is Net Promoter Score, which it monitors across many areas including service, interactions, campaign optimisation and brand/enterprise. In FY19, average service NPS scores rose 9.5 per cent to +24.8, what Le Brocq described as a significant improvement over 12 months.

Meanwhile, one of the best internal outcomes for Le Brocq was the in-house learning academy and culture. This academy reports on everything from Trailblazer badges staff secure, to showcases of what they’re learning and implementing.

“The team drove all of that,” Le Brocq said, noting Medibank has about 100 people in the marketing team. “We now have a group of campaign managers who don’t interact to Salesforce a lot but want to be part of this and give it a go.”  

As Medibank integrates its two other sales channels into the platform (retail and call centre), Le Brocq said it’s time to rebrand the marketing automation program to ‘customer automation’.

“The team existing in marketing is serving other areas of the business – as they should. They are genuinely a team servicing the enterprise and their learning will be applied to assist in the channel transformation program,” she said.

Step 6: Learnings as a CMO

As a CMO and brand marketer, meanwhile, Le Brocq said understanding technology and opportunity has been a big learning curve personally.

“But my learning is you have to keep the helicopter view on this to look at the way we are using it and not get carried away,” she said. “It’s not what technology can do, it’s what you are trying to achieve for customers and their experiences. That’s how you ensure you employ the capability relevant to you as a business.”

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