Executive Q&A with Patty Gaumond, VP of Enterprise Internet Solutions

Patty Gaumond is one of our featured keynote speakers at Forrester's Consumer Forum next week in Chicago. As Vice President of Enterprise Internet Solutions at State Farm Insurance, Patty is responsible for creating the digital experience for consumers, including online, social, and mobile capabilities, and the associate-facing intranet. This includes the launch of the firm's cutting edge Pocket Agent iPhone application back in 2009.  

At our forum, Patty will elaborate on how the firm, in a traditionally non-digital product category, is creating new digital product experiences to engage their customers beyond just the claims experience. I'm very eager to hear her presentation, and to understand more about State Farm's overall efforts to create an ongoing, interactive, and digital relationship with their customers.

In the meantime, I do want to share with you some of Patty's thoughts in response to some questions we asked her about the firm's digital transformation, their use of emerging touchpoints such as mobile and tablets, the services they are offering, and how they are managing this change. I hope to see you in Chicago next week. Patty is on the main stage at 10:25 a.m. on Oct. 28th!

How would you describe State Farms’ digital transformation?
It truly has been remarkable. State Farm was founded way back in 1922 on a very simple idea, “operate fairly and do the right thing for our customers.” We have long been recognized across the Industry for our outstanding Agency force and for good reason – we take pride in the relationships we’ve built and our ability to be there for our customers. As technology evolves, so too has the ways people build relationships, including the way they choose to do business. Like most happenings in the digital space, our change has been fast-paced and consumer-driven. Our work to build a digital presence that provides customers the opportunity to engage with us however they choose has advanced greatly in recent years. However, the vision remains the same. We want to be the customer’s first and best choice for the products and services we provide.  We view the digital space as providing us with new ways to make connections and build those relationships.

How is State Farm adapting to harness the power of emerging touch points such as mobile devices and tablets?
For us, the most exciting aspect of developments in the mobile space is that they are always changing, and new to everyone. Given State Farm’s 90-year tenure, we have to work hard to integrate with our legacy systems. We view the mobile arena as a blank canvas, a place to explore and be even more creative. We want to make every interaction with State Farm as simple and seamless as possible, and the emergence of mobile gives us the chance to think about every product and service we provide in its simplest form.

What new services are you offering to customers to meet their needs across touch points? What impact is this having on your key performance metrics?
We are making great progress in this space!  We have simplified our online sales and service processes and improved the ability for customers to connect to our Agents’ offices and call centers. These improvements have allowed us to drive more traffic to non-traditional channels and, as a result, we are seeing more people complete purchase and service transaction with State Farm online. For example, State Farm Bank offers the ability to use several touch points (agents, online, mobile, etc.) for a variety of transactions, such as depositing checks from a mobile phone or home scanner, or even balance inquiries and mini statements via text message. Customer feedback tells us we’re on the right track as more and more are coming to bank with us!   The bottom line, however, is that State Farm’s efforts in the digital space are just one piece that impact metrics. Each of our employees is committed to providing a remarkable customer experience at every interaction, and that mindset is what will differentiate us from our competitors.

How are you and your team working across organizational siloes to support the transformation and deliver for your customers?
As a company, we are learning to think differently about emerging technology, and are listening carefully to the ever-changing demands of consumers in today’s marketplace. We have come together across our organization to create a common vision for how we will position our digital presence within the context of our overall distribution system. This includes how we sell products and provide service through online and mobile channels, as well as through agents and call centers. Our customers understand the value of their relationship with a State Farm Agent, and at the same time, value the opportunity to come to us however they choose. 

How does State Farm plan to use digital channels to engage customers in what is considered a typically non-engaging product?
While not necessarily true for everyone, insurance is typically something people don’t think about until they have a need. I think the future will be less about State Farm’s plan, and more about our customer’s needs. We are constantly working to better understand our customers, and we are using that data to ensure we provide each individual a consistent, quality experience. While we can’t always predict new technology or how it will impact our Industry, what we can do is continue to listen to our customers.  We also provide unique tools that serve a need for consumers that aren’t directly tied to the sales or service process.