The Spotty Record For Insurance Online Cross Selling

When it comes to the top business strategies for North American insurance carriers (and agents), selling more to the same customer is a top initiative. Because, what's a better way to grow revenue and profit in a tough market than to sell more insurance to your proven customers? And thanks to big media budgets, it’s easy to see lots of these cross-selling campaigns in action, from the practical take of Allstate’s Shop Less, Get More campaign to more humorous approaches with Progressive’s Flo and Nationwide’s World’s Greatest Spokesman (among others), duking it out over insurance bundles and multi-product discounts. 

With all this enthusiasm, just how successful are insurance ebusiness at cross-selling?  In our report, “Making Online Insurance Cross-Sell Initiatives Work”,  that went live on the Forrester website today, it turn out that sales performance varies wildly between the ten US insurance companies evaluated, with the best cross-sellers sharing four key characteristics. And it’s not just the best performing carriers that share traits—consumers likely to purchase multiple insurance coverages from a single carrier have their own set of common characteristics around income, age, and even where they live in the US.   

So, what can insurance ebusiness teams do to improve their cross-selling performance?  We outline nine tactics such as including leveraging opportunities to promote insurance when using interactive tools to when and how the cross-sale offer is made during the online experience. Along with auditing internal practices against our checklist, a roadmap for the remainder of 2011 is offered that, if followed, will let insurance providers start 2012 with an effective cross selling strategy.

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It's Time For Business Leaders To Embrace Customer Intelligence

Forrester believes that we have entered the age of the customer — an age in which customer obsession matters more than any other strategic imperative, requiring firms to focus their strategy, energy, and budget on processes that enhance knowledge of, and engagement with, customers.

It sounds straightforward, right? Which of us doesn’t wish to become more customer-centric? Yet we see few executive teams that treat customer understanding and intelligence as a strategic imperative. Don’t believe me? Look at the agenda or the minutes from your last several executive team meetings or board meetings. How much time was devoted to understanding customers better or to leveraging that customer knowledge in new ways to drive business success?

Our research shows that fewer than fifteen percent of firms operate at a strategic level of Customer Intelligence. These are the firms that have turned customer knowledge into a corporate asset. The vast majority of them drive improvements in customer acquisition, retention, satisfaction, revenue, profitability, and customer value. And they apply CI broadly within the business. Ninety-five percent of strategic intelligence firms use CI to drive corporate strategy, versus 30% of those we categorize as functionally intelligent. And 87% of strategic intelligence firms use CI to drive business operations, versus 19% of those at the functional intelligence level.

But before you switch off and tell me this is someone else’s job, be aware of the role of executive management. Strategically intelligent firms are far more likely to have a senior-level sponsor or champion: 46% of them strongly agree that their company has a C-level evangelist or champion for Customer Intelligence, versus 20% of marketing intelligence firms and 7% of functional intelligence firms.

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The Agile Commerce Platform: Commerce as a Service will transform commerce technology

We are in a highly disruptive time in the world of commerce technology. Consumers are interacting in increasingly unique ways empowered with ubiquitous Internet connectivity with fun and easy to use interfaces and tools. Their expectations are impacting how companies market, manage their supply chains, organize, and measure the business. The needs of “the platform” seem to evolve from one week to the next. What we used to call eCommerce Platforms are now not only powering webistes, but also mobile sites, mobile apps, call centers, and in-store or in-branch interfaces that both customers and staff are using – sometimes together.

But there is an even more fundamental change about to occur – the agile commerce platform. The agile commerce platform will expose commerce as a service (CaaS) to support all touchpoints with customers. A services enabled platform which will enable eBusiness & Channel Strategy leaders to drive differentiation, respond to changing customer expectations, and enable creative business relationships to support business adaptation and facilitate growth*. Commerce solution providers from across the map are building CaaS solutions.

This is the topic of my latest report.

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Harnessing The Sales Chaos With Agility Selling

I have yet to meet a senior executive who doesn’t agree that agility is important in business. At Forrester’s 2011 Sales Enablement Forum, Forrester CEO George Colony shared some of his research with fellow CEOs.  He asked a simple question; "Are you satisfied that your sales force is advancing your strategy?" The answer was a resounding "No!" Giving their sales forces an average grade of C- [read the full post here]. George’s research found that CEOs have the following problems with their sales forces:

  1. “Speed.” The sales force is always 12 to 18 months behind strategy.
  2. “Calling too low.” Sales reps aren’t getting to power.
  3. “The sales force can’t tell the story.” The focus is on price and not on the full value and quality of products.
  4. “We have the wrong people.” Not smart enough; not tuned in to the market.
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Social Media: Hype or a Financial Services Reality?

 

No topic has straddled the chasm of hype versus ROI as social media. The last few years have been a never-ending array of stories around successes using social media as well as pundits questing the validity and value of the social area. The financial services industry is increasingly playing a role in the social space, and the last two years have also provided clarity to the value of the social channel.

Like other industries, the majority of the efforts in the social space in financial services space were initially focused on the marketing area. The last two years have resulted at least four areas that show promise for social outside of pure marketing including:

  • Product development and innovation. Who better to ask about new product development or product enhancements than existing customers who own and use the product? Firms such as Chase tap social communities to drive product innovation that starts with the customer are using social very effectively
  • Community support. While financial decisions may be a personal activity, the path to these decisions is often steeped in social with segments like investors or small business looking to one another for peer comparisons and best practice sharing. American Express, TradeKing, and most recently E*Trade are using closed communities to drive service utilization and segment engagement by getting customer to interact with each other in the social space.
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Important Insight: BT Buyers’ Social Media Behavior Continues To Evolve

Last week Forrester published a further report in my name (Peter O'Neill here) based on some great insightful work done by my illustrious researcher colleague Zachary Reiss-Davis. We had discussed this type of analysis the last time I was in our San Francisco office the other month but he did all the work.  Our Q1 2011 US And European B2B Social Technographics® Online Survey For Business Technology Buyers marked the third year we've conducted this survey, so it is interesting to observe some trends over that period of time by looking at the Social Technographics® ladder profile in more detail.  Interesting conclusions we could make from our drill-down include:

  • Many Creator* behaviors are not engagement after all (see below), they are broadcasting opinions
  • Critic* behaviors are often collaborative – and this demonstrates the biggest growth
  • Collector* behaviors are actually somewhat misleading – they are not really “collecting”
  • While the high Spectator* numbers might imply that most people are just browsing, that is wrong
  • Joiners* and Conversationalists* behavior is tailing off as decision makers fail to see the value
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Oracle Buys Endeca: What it means

 

The eCommerce technology landscape continues to be reshaped in 2011. This morning the music stopped, and Endeca was sitting in the laps of Oracle, as they announced it has acquired the search, CXM, and BI* solution provider. This acquisition is a strong signal of Oracle’s focus on commerce and is a key piece in a larger puzzle.

Why did Oracle buy Endeca?

·         CXM. When Oracle bought Fatwire they cited the emerging CXM trend. But there was one problem, what was going to pull that all together with a strong, well-attributed, rich index of content, customer, and transactional data? Question answered as Endeca will fit in very nicely as a complement to ATG, Seibel, and Fatwire as a CXM solution to drive personalized, dynamic, contextual experiences across consumer/client touchpoints.

·         B2B. Endeca may be known as a search and guided navigation solution for B2C commerce sites, but it has a particularly strong value proposition for B2B companies with large complex product assortments – such as manufacturers and distributors across many industries. This acquisition will strengthen Oracle’s value proposition in B2B opportunities. Some may argue that search has been largely commoditized by Solr, but in these applications that is not yet the case. (That is evidenced by the combined success hybris and Endeca were enjoying together up to this point.) This acquisition will strengthen the Siebel, Oracle ERP, and ATG B2B offerings all together.

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Chief Customer Officer (CCO) Roundtable On CX Maturity

“Customer experience (CX) maturity” was the topic of Forrester’s recent chief customer officer (CCO) roundtable meeting. Based on a recent report by Megan Burns called “Customer Experience Maturity Defined,” the customer experience leaders present took Forrester’s self-test of key CX practices, discussed their own company’s strengths and weaknesses, and shared successes and challenges they faced at their companies in interactive discussions throughout the day.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion.

Governance and project investment. A significant portion of the discussion revolved around customer experience governance and getting funds for projects. There was clear agreement in the room on needing CX leaders at the top levels of management. For instance, the CCOs were saying:

  • “Customer experience loses at the corporate budgeting level. You need to be there or have an exec like the CFO fighting for you there.”
  • “Get on the decision-making body for investments and make sure you at least have veto power over projects.”
  • “When I’m making the business case for CX-related projects and pushing it up to the C-level, I always build ranges into the outcomes (e.g., reduce churn by 0.5% [worst case], 1% [middle case], and 2% [best case]; increase word of mouth by 2% [worst case], 5% [middle case], 10% [best case]). I get less argument about even the low number . . . people are overly optimistic.”
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The Problem With Measurement Proxies

I've noticed a disturbing trend in one of the markets I study. Thirty percent  of marketers say their top social media goal is creating brand impact, but only 10% tell us they measure brand impact — a gap of 20 percentage points. But then while just 4% say sentiment or engagement are their top goals, a whopping 26% measure these numbers —leaving us with an almost identical gap of 22 percentage points, but in the other direction. It’s clear what's happening here: Marketers are using sentiment and engagement numbers as a proxy for brand impact surveys.

Deep down I love the idea of measurement proxies. A properly constructed and proven proxy could be a cheap, quick, and effective stand-in for direct measurement of things that are quite frankly hard to measure — like brand impact.

But there’s a big problem here: I've been looking pretty hard for good measurement proxies for a while now, and I’ve found very few that could be described as "properly constructed and proven." And I'm pretty sure none of the marketers in our survey have proven their proxies — because if they'd tried, they'd have almost certainly failed.

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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?

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