Direct Line’s Mark Evans: Being customer orientated is a constant work in progress

Despite proving the correlation between customer and commercial, Direct Line Group’s Mark Evans says customer orientation is “not natural to everybody” so the business has to constantly “fight that tide”.

Happy Unhappy customerEnsuring a business is customer orientated is a “constant work in progress”, according to Direct Line Group’s (DLG) managing director for marketing and digital, Mark Evans.

The insurance firm has spent a lot of time over the past few years proving the link between customer and commercial, but despite these efforts Evans impressed the need to continually reiterate the connection to ensure the business’ focus doesn’t slip.

“Customer orientation is not natural to everybody. And for any organisation it is a work in progress. Really, we’re talking about culture, which is quite hard to shift. The key thing is you’ve got to make people realise it’s a commercial endeavour and doing the right thing for the customer is what will pay back,” he said, speaking at the Festival of Marketing: Fast Forward event today (7 June).

Evans has talked before about how Direct Line connected NPS to customer retention to show how “customer equals commercial”. This revealed a 15-point delta between a zero NPS score and customers scoring 10, which he said is “off the charts in terms of its impact financially”.

How Direct Line is proving the link between customer and commercial

But despite proving the correlation between customer and the commercial outcome, he said “the job is never done” and the business must continually reinforce the fact so it doesn’t slip back into old habits.

“Just two days ago we had a half day exco 100% dedicated to the customer, to remind ourselves of the uncomfortable truths in the sector and remind ourselves of the commercial imperative of being customer orientated, and listening to customers and playing customer videos in this virtual environment,” he said.

“It’s a constant work in process because it’s easy to slip back to product orientation or P&L orientation.”

In financial services particularly, he said the more complicated the product the higher the margin, so it’s an ongoing battle to ensure the business looks at the bigger picture and isn’t seduced by quick wins.

“You have to constantly fight that tide that there is a long game to play, which is do the right thing for the customer and it will pay back, even if it needs a bit more investment and effort up front,” he added.