Data is most valuable once it’s understood, shared, and acted upon. At Amica Insurance, data sits at the core of the company’s customer strategy, driving most marketing and sales decisions.
Yiguang Qiu, marketing officer and director of market research and analytics at Amica, works with the marketing team to drive the company’s data-driven, omnichannel marketing and customer strategy. Here, he talks to 1to1 Media about Amica’s efforts to leverage its data assets to deliver relevant content to its customers and enrich their experience.
How is your company using data to affect positive change for customers? How would you categorize Amica’s view of and treatment of data where the customer experience is concerned?
In recent years, big data became popular and got a lot of attention from many corporations big and small. We are a bit behind in this area, but we’ve been using data on a small scale in many practical ways for years. Our activities around growth and customer experience are data and metrics-driven and are guided by our mission--to create peace of mind and build enduring relationships.
We have a complete NPS program to measure the customer experience, starting from the day he or she becomes a customer. Customer feedback, whether related to a service request or a claims case, fed into a closed-loop solution, triggering follow-up activities from our service representatives or managers. Procedures are in place to make sure all customer inquiries or concerns are addressed to the customer’s satisfaction. We even reach out to the non-buyers to try to figure out why they didn’t buy from us, and to see if there are any outstanding concerns that have not been properly addressed. To me, the non-buyers’ feedback sometimes is more insightful and important.
In terms of the marketing side of things, every year we collaborate closely with our sales team and senior management to craft a challenging yet realistic growth goal. We don’t just scratch our heads and come up with a number. We look at what we did in previous years—which channels were working well and which marketing messages and product offerings resonated with our customers—and then figured out opportunities for the new year. Data insights help make things clear each step of the way.
What kind of data governance do you have in place?
We have a data governance council and data stewards, and they meet regularly to find the best way to leverage data assets to improve our processes and impact both the internal and external customer experience.
Who sits on the data governance council? Do they represent a cross section of the organization?
Mid-level executives from marketing, sales, claims, accounting, legal, and IT sit on the council and data stewards are from all key divisions of the company as well.
What are some of the unique ideas that have sprung from the council?
We spent a lot of time with a roadmap to guide our efforts, and we looked at how data is collected and used. We also just launched the Amica Business Glossary, where we document all the key terms used around the company (e.g., “What is a customer?” and “What is a prospect?”). Then, we push that out to all employees, so if anyone has a question about a specific piece of data, he or she can simply look it up with this tool. More importantly, we have started to document data pain points from various functions of the company, and we are making plans to address them one by one.
How are you pushing out this data?
The icon for the Amica Glossary business application appears in the Windows status bar. Employees can simply click on the icon, and the information pops up.
Are employees incented to act on the data, and are their salaries or bonuses tied to that?
Not really, but at Amica, we do have ways to encourage our employees to do the right thing for our customers and for the company. As you may expect, every year we want to grow our business and also want to make sure we provide excellent customer service. Everyone strives for these. We educate our employees that dirty data will impair our ability to get meaningful business insights, and we may end up making the wrong decisions in marketing investments and customer interactions. This can negatively impact the company’s growth and customer experience.
What’s the frequency for employees being evaluated?
All employees are expected to document their progress toward their goals periodically in an enterprise-wide evaluation system. Managers and their direct reports meet regularly to discuss their goals and how they’re doing. Few should have big surprises during their annual review process.
How do you use data to tell a story?
Data helps us understand our customers and build customer personas. This makes it possible for us to communicate with them and serve them effectively. For planning, data tells a great story. We typically start in September to plan for the following year. Metrics and data insights, along with strategy, determine how much money to spend in each channel, product line and geographic location. For example, if you need to grow 100,000 policies, the data will tell you what kind of response or conversion rate you have been getting from different marketing campaigns, and what you can expect with the anticipated retention rate. From there, you can project out how many marketing activities you will need to hit your goal. Data is involved every step of the way as we work out an operational plan.
How will you grow your data strategy?
Our traditional analytical teams across the enterprise are quite strong. Our marketing analytical professionals work very closely with the rest of the marketing organization to drive a lot of the operations and decision-making. Predictive analytics has been embedded into audience selection and targeting activities, and is moving into sales analytics and fraud detection.
Unfortunately, data silos still exist. We are exploring ways to dedicate efforts to look at our data assets at the enterprise level and extract insights to drive impactful changes and innovation. This type of insight may only exist in cross function data lake, and may not be found within each of the data silos affiliated with individual business functions.
Is this in an effort to improve the Omni channel experience?
Yes. Ultimately, we want to improve the marketing effectiveness, but we always want to improve the customer experience. We work hard to see things through the eyes of our customers. We want to make sure all the channels work together and the experience of our customers is always an exceptional one, regardless of the channel through which he or she decides to interact with us.