Making the digital brand experience as human as possible for its six million customers is the long-term goal for insurer LV, which last year embarked on a digital transformation project across its entire business.
The project was led by former Aviva marketing director Heather Smith who joined LV in August 2016 as digital transformation director. A year into the role she took control of the transformation programme, which kicked off with an intense 16-week period mapping out every customer journey, looking into the silos and recognising all the pain points.
Smith, who moved into the chief customer officer role in January, is now masterminding a new brand strategy focused on translating the company’s brand purpose through digital channels. She is supported by a 50-strong team across brand marketing and digital, which is likely to swell with new appointments in digital marketing, user experience and analytics.
It makes sense to bring these teams together because they are part of the same ecosystem, says Smith. “I really believe if you’re going to deliver it has to work end-to-end. If you operate in silos you lose something in the execution, because it comes through too many touchpoints and is not as aligned to a really well executed vision,” she explains.
“I’ve seen it both ways and the effort becomes bigger with different team. It requires more governance rather than being aligned under one leadership vision. In terms of connectivity it is more seamless and communication becomes simpler. It can be done the other way, it just requires a different focus.”
Having a strong grounding in digital helps Smith unite the team under her leadership as chief customer officer and she argues that everything in marketing ladders up to the brand promise. Smith says the role of chief customer officer is still highly commercial and that an understanding of how to make money does not need to be at the cost of the customer – far from it.
“There’s that balance to do the right thing for customers and make a commercial difference for the business. Hold the two together and it’s a recipe for success,” she states.
As a company, LV prides itself on its customer service ethos, which saw the insurer scoop Which? Insurance Provider of the Year 2017 and YouGov’s Most Recommended Insurer for the fifth year in a row.
Smith references the brand’s reaction to the fire in the Liverpool Echo Arena car park in January, which destroyed 1,400 vehicles, as an example of the LV spirit. The insurer provided hire cars to customers who didn’t have one on their policy and waived the excess for all affected customers, promising their no claims discount would be kept intact.
Up until the digital transformation project began LV had communicated its brand purpose through one-to-one interactions over the telephone. It was, therefore, a big shift to translate this same brand identity to a digital landscape.
“You spend a lot of time making sure your brand means something and I think of the brand as a promise delivered,” says Smith.
“We have taken more time to think carefully about how that shows up in the business and choose the right moments where we feel digital works.”
This approach has included introducing live chat and elements of self-service to the online experience, mixed with occasions when LV feels the customer is best served through human beings. Crucially, the brand is determined to retain its conversational style across all its digital delivery.
The purpose communicated through LV’s digital channels is being supported by a new TV campaign backed by more than £20m in media spend, the first phase of which went live on 29 January.
Hooked on the launch of LV’s multi car policy for family insurance, the ‘From the Heart’ campaign will span four TV ads, an outdoor campaign and social activity, all playing on the central theme that LV has its customers’ best interests at heart.
Smith describes helping ensure LV retains its position as one of the UK’s best loved insurers as the marketing team’s “North Star”.
“The aim is to think about end-to-end journeys, reduce the customer effort, simplify the experience of dealing with us and there will always be our small acts of kindness,” she adds.