CFO World

Allianz Retire+: Building a start-up from within an existing business

Allianz Retire+ took to the stage at the Forrester Annual CX event to outline its radical approach to its new product

When Allianz Retire+ was looking to build and launch a new product, Future Safe, it wanted to shake things up.

Rather than building another product from within the global insurance giant, like they had always done, Allianz instead looked at building it as an entirely new business, approaching the new product like it was a start-up, rather than part of a global business. 

And this ‘start-up’ has been so successful, the model is now being applied to other business cases within Allianz.    

It all started with chatting to retirees in their homes, Jacqui Lennon head of product and customer experience Allianz Retire+, said at Forrester’s Annual CX event in Sydney last week. 

“We kicked off in May 2017, got board approval, and then set about how to design the business. Users spoke to stakeholders in the ecosystem, and spoke to how we designed out from there. It was so important talking to retirees in their homes – I can’t stress this enough,” Lennon said. 

First, the team designed high-level journey maps to design the organisational structure. The design included a customer-led perspective and the competencies needed to meet customer expectations. 

Thirteen months later, it launched the business to get name out there in June 2018. But the team kept iterating on designs, grounding it back to what they heard retirees actually wanted. 

Of course, there were a lot of legal and regulatory discussions, due to it being a financial product. 

“We had to look at how we could fit into legislation, but still making it customer-focused. In March this year, we launched first product into market,” Lennon said. 

From the 20-month journey, Lennon had five insights to share: Nurture energy; show, don’t tell; get the right people; make best friends; and in and out.

“Nurture energy, this was a big one for me,” she explained. 

“I was trying to meet deadlines, and people were asking us to prioritise, of course, and I felt the weight of the organisation on my shoulders, and to create great CX

“I kept being asked if I was sure all my requirements were needed to go live. I ended up bursting into tears and realised I’d been doing this all wrong. I hadn’t been managing my energy well - it’s a long-term game. It’s like they say: if you want to go quickly, go by yourself; you want to go far, go with other people. Design energy can be quite different in a corporate setting, also. You need to create a space for creative people and ensure there is time for reflection. Great creativity takes space. 

“Show, don’t tell. When we just tell stories they aren’t as effective as when you show the stories. Take it out of the spreadsheet and turn into something tangible. 

“Get the right people. I was new to recruiting people and realised it’s important to understand context; it creates a whole different experience in the recruitment process. 

“I ended up recruiting a tribe internally, and I will now always pick attitude over experience. You want a next level of empathy, to recruit those who seek to understand and learn. They are your people for CX. They are the one thinking from a users’ perspective. There are problem solvers and problem finders, and you need both sets of people. 

“Make best friends with product people. If you are customer-centric, you put customers at the start and from there design the products and experiences. But it can be a battle between those areas. I’m surprised how often product decisions are made that will drive CX crazy. My advice to CX people is make best friends with product people, get in close, and it will make life easier. Keep it human and real, because stuff is going on for people. Remember people are human.” 

Finally, Lennon recommends working out what you will and won’t outsource. 

“We outsourced our website design and build, but we failed to understand if you don’t know what you are asking them to do, you don’t know what you getting,” she explained. 

“While is looks exactly like our design, the components don’t have the flexibility we needed. We really needed someone internally who understood the CMS. Outsourcing something I had no idea about wasn’t useful.”

Lennon said while Future Safe is in its early stages, the pipeline of business is strong, and more products will be released to market soon.  

“CX has the ability to transform a business and the people within it, but don’t be a lone wolf, as this is a sure-fire way to achieve exhaustion and burnout. Have fun, make it a more human experience. Our customer-centric empathetic culture is resonating very well. 

“If fact, Allianz taking this model and applying it elsewhere, as Australia is the only market to have gone and spoken to retirees directly about what it is they want.” 

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