How a major insurance company is leveraging data to boost customer engagement

Being more things to more people seems like a logical strategy. It explains why a hamburger outlet might want to expand into breakfast foods or why an online bookseller might begin selling groceries.

But how can a business know which new product or service offering will translate into sustained growth? For executives at Aviva, one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies in Canada, identifying growth opportunities meant they first needed to answer to a simpler question: “Who is our customer?”

“Like many insurance companies, Aviva has plenty of transactional, policy-centric data but we had relatively little in the way of behavioral, consumer-centric data,” according to Danielle March, who leads Aviva’s customer segmentation strategy.

Understanding customers through segmentation                                                                                                            

The first step was to take stock of what data Aviva already had to identify any gaps and find sources to fill them. From there, analysts could uncover customer insights that would lay the foundation for Aviva’s customer strategy and marketing plan. Aviva contacted Environics Analytics (EA) for help in plugging those holes and structuring the analysis.

To define Aviva customers, analysts integrated in-house data with a variety of EA databases, including DemoStats, SocialValues, MoneyMatters and Numeris, which analyze consumers by demographics, lifestyles, wealth and spending patterns. The analysis allowed the team to organize Aviva’s customers into segments using PRIZM5, a segmentation system that classifies Canadians into 68 unique lifestyle types. Aviva’s analytics team then used EA’s ENVISION5 platform to develop target groups of like-minded consumers. “With EA, we were able to enhance our own data and use it to produce better customer outcomes,” says March.

Armed with these customer segments, Aviva began to bring its customers into sharper focus, determining which products would meet their needs—today and in the future—and which messages would best resonate with each target customer group. Proposition managers were able to make informed decisions such as refinement to existing products as well as exploring potential new product offerings. Also, March consulted with key stakeholders at Aviva to gain buy-in, influence priorities and socialize Aviva’s key customer segments across the enterprise. “We’re all speaking the same language, and creating the required space to be curious about the data,” observes March.

Creating a new success story

The customer-centric approach is even altering how Aviva measures success. “In the end, getting the customer proposition right will drive higher customer loyalty,” say March.

With the work gaining traction, March has noticed more people are receptive to the new approach. “The business unit leaders are feeling more optimistic because we finally have answers to their questions,” she says. “We have data to support why we’re making the decisions we are, and we’re challenging ourselves to look for customer evidence before we start on the path of building things that we think are excellent—when in fact they may not be.”

Aviva’s journey to understand its customers has allowed March to offer some advice to other organizations looking to adopt a more data-driven, customer-centric focus: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” she says, “and the first step is admitting that you are not the customer.”

This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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