6 ways Standard Life is disrupting the insurance industry

Standard Life faces the often difficult task of marketing long term investments to consumers more interested in the here and now. Having benefited to the tune of almost 1 million new customers due to the new auto-enrollment for pensions, the brand’s marketing MD Stephen Ingledew explains the six methods it uses to ensure its marketing is relevant and resonates.

1) Find out what keeps customers awake at night

With half a million customers aged 55 and older, and 800,000 new customers aged 21 and upwards following the government’s auto enrollment onto pension schemes, Standard Life has tried to tap into what keeps customers awake at night to ensure customer satisfaction.

“We saw that people were leaving us and we wanted to know why. They said it was nothing to do with the basics and what we do, they just didn’t think we cared, as we weren’t talking to them as an individual,” said Ingledew, speaking to Marketing Week at IBM’s Amplify event in Florida.

“It’s all about family, what matters to people. Nationwide is much more about day-to-day money, we’re more about future money. Money when you want to retire, travel the world. But it is still an emotional decision in terms of what you want to do. Whether this is in five years time or 10 years time.”

With a new younger audience Ingledew found that messaging and content marketing had to look at why someone should care about their finances in 30 years’ time. In order to tap into this, Standard Life decided to tap into emotion and motivation.

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Stephen Ingledew, marketing MD, Standard Life

“My point is about understanding the hard facts about the customers and the emotional side is what motivates them. This is a big shift culturally for Standard Life and the financial industry. It is usually such a logical industry and now it is about how you bring that right side of the brain, that creativity to it,” he explained.

2) Focus on being customer driven rather than customer centric

Standard Life has moved away from a focus on being a customer centric business to instead being customer driven. Ingledew believes that customer centric suggests you are treating customers passively. “Customer driven suggests it is all driven by behaviors and what their needs are,” he said.

Comparing the company’s customer research to that used by British airways and Virgin, Ingledew said that customer cooperation has allowed Standard Life to tap into customer needs and improve the online journey. Its “customer community” of 5000 also helps provide insight on customer behaviour.

3) Create a seamless customer journey for all

Ingledew puts a seamless customer journey down to assisting vulnerable customers in something he calls a “curb cut”.

In the same way that a drop in the pavement level can help a person in a wheel chair or in a pram to cross the road, the curb cut in marketing aims to assist those more vulnerable and again help others in the process. Standard Life has been doing this through technology, with news apps including a personal butler that is currently available to its premium users.

“If you give customers an easier way to engage, not only does it help vulnerable customers, it helps all customers. It’s all about putting curb cuts into online journeys,” he explained.

Ingledew added that, ironically, technology is humanising transactions and customer service by taking away more mundane tasks and providing customers with another way to engage. Recent research conducted by Standard Life found that customers wanted to talk to a machine over an advisor as they “didn’t want to appear silly”.

4) Move away from a “waterfall approach”

Standard Life has decided to move away from a “waterfall approach”, instead focusing on being more agile and “thinking and making at the same time”.

“Marketing is far too important to be left to just the marketers.”

Stephen Ingledew, marketing MD, Standard Life

“You can only do agile working if you work in a very collaborative way. People sat around a table for a marketing meeting shouldn’t just be marketers, but IT, risk, finance and operations. They [marketers] shouldn’t just work as one team, effectively all the teams are ‘married’.”

This approach allows Standard Life to learn from its mistakes and consider how it can improve next time. “Marketing is far too important to be left to just the marketers. It needs to be everyone doing marketing,” Ingledew said.

5) Don’t fear mistakes

“Don’t fear mistakes and create an environment where the team don’t feel comfortable making mistakes. Make those mistakes visible so everyone learns,” said Ingledew.

The company also uses the phrase “we don’t do HIPPO” which stands for highest income person’s point of view. “So we don’t do HIPPO because the person on the highest income is the person furthest removed from the data. Effectively I shouldn’t be making the decisions, the team should be making them,” Ingledew said.

The non-linear decision making comes under the mantra “Forgiveness before permission”. “Don’t worry about seeking permission. If you do something and it doesn’t work, don’t worry, try it then ask for forgiveness,” he said.

6) Ensure data is the servant not the master

Marketers should not become overwhelmed by data, it should remain the servant not the master. Ingledew believes marketers should always start off with the customer need and work back from that, putting things into “bite size chunks” before becoming overwhelmed or suffocated by the data.

“Data is the new oil. Oil has always been there in the ground, but it is only after engines that it became useful. You have to think when we get the data out, what are we putting it into?” he asked.

One of the categories in this year’s Masters of Marketing Awards celebrates excellence in the financial services sector.

Don’t forget to submit your Masters of Marketing entry. Click here to view all the categories.

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