Ensuring we have a truly differentiated and connected customer experience is a key priority area at Aviva, so it was timely to have a chance to read Adobe’s recent report “The Sum of Its Parts.” (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company.)
The report makes a compelling argument for why connecting customer experiences to make them great is no longer just a “nice to have,” arguing that the consumer’s basic desire for relationships with brands stems right back to the days of the medieval marketplace. That was a time when goods were purchased face to face and deals sealed with a handshake, thereby creating highly personalised and interactive experiences. Transparent transactions meant immediacy. Success depended on word-of-mouth recommendations. And the social aspect of the marketplace tapped into the primal need to connect.
While those sorts of brand-customer interactions may have been commonplace centuries ago, the power of mass media turned them into “one-sided” communication from brands to consumers. Today, the emergence of digital has brought with it a new age that combines the mass media and medieval marketplaces of old to create a brave new world.
In a digital age, with greater transparency of brands now more than ever, customers want and expect an experience that’s joined up right across each touch point. And it’s easy to have sympathy with this point of view as the emergence of Amazon and its superior customer experience have served to eclipse its lesser rivals in the traditional retail space, many of whom are now names resigned to the annals of brand history.
In fact, some 89% of brands (rather than just 36% back in 2011) are now expecting to compete on experience as their main point of distinction in increasingly crowded and highly competitive marketplaces, according to Adobe. This sentiment is spot on. In short, a brand is what a brand does. Ultimately, the experience you provide for customers will sum up your brand, for better or worse.
The report identifies three core themes marketers should focus on, all of which are highly relevant to the work we are doing at Aviva:
1. Creating Connections
The need to truly deliver a differentiated and connected customer experience is something we are focusing on a lot at Aviva. Within our U.K. digital business we have a dedicated customer experience team fused within the business itself, working and connecting across the business and co-operating with a number of teams, including marketing, to shape a truly connected experience.
For existing customers, our online portal “MyAviva” is a way we, as a brand, are shaping experiences to help them with their everyday financial needs. In a single destination point MyAviva provides tools and content allowing customers access to online servicing, documents, and claims management for insurance, as well as online management for pensions and savings customers.
2. Touch Point Trouble
The challenge many businesses face is driving connections between their different touch points when faced with legacy systems and historic processes. Having a dedicated U.K. digital business at Aviva is helping the team break through silos and shape experiences and connections with the customer at their heart.
In our recent pensions campaign, for example, we’ve focused as much on delivering excellence in the experience touch points as we have on delivering an amazing campaign. Moving from B2C to B2B to B2B2C we have integrated the experiences with different audiences in mind, whether that’s someone taking out a new pension, consolidating a pension, topping up their pension, or seeking advice. Our “Shape My Future” feature is designed to bring to life a customer’s future pension with clear next steps on what they can do. It’s a great example of addressing connection across the customer touch points.
3. Channel Choice
“The Sum of Its Parts” report argues that businesses may fail if they don’t keep up with changes to technology and customer adoption of new and emerging routes to market. In short, evolve or die.
To future-proof at Aviva, we have focused on bringing in the best talent and working with our agency partners (such as Razorfish, Zenith, and Adam & Eve) to keep one step ahead. New content partnerships with Vice, BuzzFeed, Channel 4, and AOL are helping us drive relevant and meaningful connections through great content, not just on our own platforms but on partner platforms too. Ensuring you work with the best and continue to evolve your approach is paramount.
The report ends with a sobering reminder to “look into the future.” Without a DeLorean time machine in sights, it’s of vital importance that brands orientate themselves for the future in the right way now. It’s my very firm belief that organisations that continue to focus on a truly connected customer experience, living and breathing that “what a brand does is what a brand is” will be those brands that are ultimately victorious.