What BizCover has done to personalise and automate customer service and marketing

Automation, AI and real-time customer insight are all helping to increasingly streaming and connect the customer experience at BizCover

A Net Promoter Score of +74 and 30 per cent year-on-year growth are just some of ways BizCover’s transformative investment into personalised and increasingly automated customer service and marketing has delivered.  

BizCover is an Australian online service for comparing and buying business insurance, with a sweet spot in small business. In the last 10 years, the business has grown from a base of 10,000 customers to more than 160,000 in Australia today and 200,000 globally.  

Operational excellence manager, Brad Hoyle, told CMO the business started overhauling its CRM and customer support management platforms in a slow but steady way a decade ago as operations began to grow. It was five years ago, in line with a unification project to centralise all customer insights into one platform, that things started getting serious with its Salesforce tech stack, however, he said.  

BizCover initially started with Salesforce CRM, Service Cloud and in last two years, rolled out Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It’s since deployed Ad Studio and Social Studio.  

“This is an incremental growth story. It isn’t an overnight success, we have built on it, utilised it and grown use of it to suit the business today,” Hoyle said. “Five years ago, we kicked off a unification project to centralise all key customer insights, to think about the future, how telephony played in concert with Salesforce, what the best console was for our call centre agents, and how we put the customer at the centre of everything we do.  

“Like a lot of companies, we originally had a lot of manual processes and a list of cases that we would try and get through from top to bottom. Slowly, we built in automations, whether it’s through AI or intelligent process design, to make things more efficient.”  

As a result of these service-oriented efforts, customers who today receive emails or endeavour to interact with BizCover via digital channels or the call centre are first assessed by artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the focus of their inquiry, who it should be routed to, then assigned automatically and responded to via multiple channels.  

On top of this, the company has built SLA management processes to further streamline customer service. For example, if the team isn’t expected to get back to customers as quickly as prescribed timeframes, interactions can be escalated to an urgent queue before the crisis moment arrives.  

“This ensures we don’t have the problem of customers being left behind or an email going missing, everything flows through a centralised system of assignment,” Hoyle explained.  

These capabilities proved particularly important during the last 20 months of Covid-19, with a number of BizCover’s customers impacted by lockdowns and experiencing the detrimental effects of the global pandemic.  

Marketing mix  

More recently and integrated with BizCover’s service and CRM work is the implementation of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Ad Studio and Social Studio.  

“A key part of what we do is not so much about selling and pushing product, it’s more oriented around customer care,” BizCover head of marketing, Sharon Kenny, said. “Our aim is to educate customers about insurance. Because while most of us know what we’re doing when it comes to buying car insurance, many small businesses don’t understand why they are buying insurance.  

“What we are trying to use Marketing Cloud for is creating journeys around educating people, showing what they have and don’t have, and what they should have. It’s also about gaps within their coverage, not just saying you should have one thing or another, and explaining what they need as a business.”    

Thanks to these scalable personalised capabilities, Kenny said the team is now sending more relevant information to customers. For instance, through increasingly personalised email and SMS communications, BizCover talks to customers and prospects using specific industry, occupation or product information they are interested in.  

“We have added complexity in that we do the marketing for our New Zealand business, so we have to replicate what we can there,” Kenny continued. “We don’t want to be doing one set of communications for Australia, and one for New Zealand; we needed something to help us seamlessly deliver across both markets. We have white-label partners as well, so we need to be able to contact people on behalf of those brands but using our technology. This platform has helped us in terms of not only delivering on more personalisation in conversations, but also the depth of the different brands we are marketing.”  

Currently being executed by BizCover’s marketing team is what Kenny said is its most complicated set of journeys around the renewals process to date. The huge project sees all renewals sent out from the one platform.  

“The project has about five journeys, most complex of which integrate email communications and SMS with driving cases to the renewals team,” Kenny said.  

Importantly, the A/B testing capabilities within the platform allow the team to tweak renewal communications to help drive up rates. The marketing team is also now using Ad Studio and audience insights to support marketing activities by serving ads that are more relevant.  

“From the outset of COVID, we were able to look at what occupations were struggling versus which ones were thriving. We used this data to spend more [media dollars] on occupations that were growing, such as cleaners, plumbers and handymen last year,” Kenny said. “We’re using these insights to not only harvest our prospect base, but also to proactively market and reach out to these kinds of businesses and spend more of our money and resources on growing that new business customer base.  

“At the beginning of Covid, we saw cancellations skyrocket and new business flatten, which was concerning. We pulled back marketing spend, as it was particularly sensitive at the time as many people were losing their businesses or not working. And we took an integrated and complete comms channel approach, focusing on people we knew were in market and pulling back on those who weren’t.”    

Thanks to this ability to communicate with customers in relevant and timely ways, BizCover has improved open rates on many marketing communications to more than 50 per cent, while click rates have doubled on many comms.  

Hoyle said teams are constantly striving to learn and optimise with the help of the technology and results achieved. There is also real-time and two-way integration with platforms, so Marketing Cloud feeds back into CRM, for example.  

“What I’ve seen on the marketing side is we’re not doing set and forget marketing, or journeys where a customer should be doing this here, and that there. How the customer engages back sees us changing what we do for them,” he commented. “We are giving customers the power to control the journeys and letting them choose how to engage with us, whether it’s SMS or email, or to call back in the customer’s preferred time.”    

Another way automation and personalisation through choice are coming to the fore for BizCover is around payments. Hoyle said the company on average has 1000 failed payments every month.  

“Often, businesses have dedicated teams to call and chase the customer, which is a massive burden,” he said. “We have been able to automate 90 per cent of these payments via automated channels like SMS and email, giving customers the ability to reschedule, retry payment and offer payment extensions during Covid. The emails contain options where the customer just clicks through, reads about an extension for example, and acts.

“There are also upfront payments when your policy is about to expire, and where we provide a link to clickthrough directly to payments. If a customer wants to do that via SMS, it automatically responds to them via SMS. That helps them solve the query a lot quicker.”  

Giving customers the ability to extend or defer payments through Covid was significant. “People didn’t know what was going on with current regulations and needed to see what happens in coming months. We gave them the power to do it themselves, and to not have to call a stressed out call centre but go online, and be able to do that quickly at home to get a result,” Hoyle said.  

Read more: Why top customer support needs technology and humans

How brand support teams can navigate the COVID-19 customer storm

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The results  

Despite some of the most challenging circumstances over the last year, BizCover achieved 30 per cent year-on-year growth and maintained a +74 net promoter score, close to double the industry average of -50 to -20.  

“I trawl through the NPS comments every month, and at least 4-5 say it’s the best experience they have ever had in terms of dealing with payments,” Kenny said.    

“Our NPS is driven through Salesforce. Within our operating flow, for anyone who is a detractor, the comment goes to the business owner of the customer, whether it be service, sales or claims. They are obliged to then resolve that customer issue. It’s through stuff like this that we’re identifying process gaps and where people may like us but had an average experience at this point. We then send this to tech or whoever owns it to improve that process.”    

Automation and AI are also helping with employee management. Hoyle claimed many stats improved during the height of the crisis even as teams worked from home, with agent productivity increasing by more than 20 per cent. To ensure agents are immediately apprised of a customer’s situation, BizCover has built an agent console that includes customer information, previous items, NPS scores, any cases related to the customer and previous communications.  

“There is information on whether a customer’s lifetime NPS data is positive or negative, their last interaction, and if someone is a 10 out of 10 customer but had a five out of 10 experience last time,” he said. “We also put the responsibility back on agents in real time.  

“We made a conscious decision not to look at NPS once per month in a report. As soon as interactions finish, we send out different feedback surveys as well as periodically, and any positive and negative feedback is in the agent’s hands in real time. It means they can action it or make a review case in real time.”  

Simultaneously, AI has been brought in over the past year to listen to all calls from a customer compliance perspective, customised to BizCover’s needs. “As soon as calls finish, any compliance or customer issues are flagged and we’re continuously using AI to optimise as we go,” Hoyle said.  

“We’re using AI to understand what a customer is saying and we’ll iteratively work to improve that, whether it’s experience, tone of voice or our offerings. It could lead into our wider customer journey through marketing and our other tools.”  

The next project underway to lift customer service is BizCover’s first chatbot, dubbed Frankie, which has just gone into pilot phase.    

“We had been hesitant about jumping into chatbots until now. However a customers want to engage with us, and the channel they choose, we want to be there with the same level of experience,” Hoyle said.    

“Frankie is our new service chatbot experience and will be able to do all the FAQs, point customers in the right direction for amendments, payments, claims and renewals. Because it is built in Salesforce, we are able to automatically dip into Salesforce to find out about the customer and have the chatbot to do things automatically. It’s not just a blanket FAQ bot.”  

Building on learnings and wins is also the focus for Kenny and the marketing team. “Our customers are small business owners, so it’s not only recognising the channels they want to communicate in, but when they want to communicate as well. We’re using smarts in Salesforce to understand frequency as we try to contact a customer, then emailing or presenting them with ways to contact us,” she said.  

“A simple thing we have done recently is identify where our contact centre have tried to get in contact with a customer but had no luck during the week and sending an email Friday evening to say we tried to get hold of you, and we are open Sat 9-4 if you’d like to give us a buzz. Engagement has been off the charts, and it’s really helped lift sales results on a Saturday.”  

As Kenny pointed out, customer engagement is not a straight through journey and brands can’t treat it as such. “If a customer needs to move through journeys, having that data and understanding is integral to helping them,” she said.  

“There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a company you ring up and have an interaction with, then getting an email the next day which is counterintuitive to where you thought you were taking the relationship. That’s where we’re moving towards – moving people from one journey to another and skipping or changing so those communications stay relevant.”  

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