The E-word: how design thinking connected IAG to its customers

At Forrester’s CX Marketing 2016, Jill Baptist, GM customer experience and marketing at IAG, showed how emotional connection radically enhanced company culture. By Rob Grant.

Asia-Pacific insurance group IAG faced a problem: tonnes of information; little or no customer connection at an emotional level. In her talk, titled ‘How to bring the E word into the boardroom’, Baptist left no listener doubting the challenge.

“We had lots of data. We had lots of research. We had personas, ethnographic research, contextual interviews. We had four million customers. Are you excited yet? Exactly. That was our problem. All this fabulous information was being horribly wasted because the business did not know what to do with it.”

Fortunately, Baptist was a disciple of the ‘design thinking’ school and the company already had capability in this area. She marshalled the human-centred design team to develop a way to connect IAG employees – from the board to the front-line – with the customer’s emotions. “Our criteria for success was it had to be something people could use when we weren’t in the room. It had to have emotion. That’s the E word. It had to explain how customers felt and how they wanted to feel, at every stage of the insurance customer journey,” she said.

They developed a map of the customer journey which outlined a single emotion for every stage. These were brought to life with statements of how the customer feels, characteristics of good and bad performance, and customer verbatims.

Perhaps the most critical element of the program was how it was brought to life. IAG created listen and act walls around the business, designed to generate action. Importantly, the walls included areas for employee feedback. One was called ‘CEO for the Day’ and invited ideas to improve customer connections.

“We put them up everywhere and they went viral. We started in our head office and a couple of our call centres. Within six months we had 40 walls up across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Anybody, at any time could identify a pain point, put it up on a sticky (note) and, through team exercises or leadership meetings, act as CEO for the day. It was a real passion for allowing the voice of our own employees to fit alongside the voice of the customer.”

They didn’t stop there and repurposed TVs to be permanent reminders of the customer voice.

“We had all these TV screens. The rather dull things you see in call centres. We thought ‘let’s hijack those’ and put up flashes of real-time customer verbatims.”

All this work culminated in the creation of a hero target customer, now used to focus

attention on the end-user across the business.

Baptist explains, “Sam is our universal customer. Sam is gender neutral and cross cultural. It is a means to hang together all of our communication. So, we now say, ‘for the love of Sam’, we are taking this initiative or doing something else. All our division now have ‘for the love of Sam’ plans.”

After only a short time, the initiative has generated 570 ideas, of which 196 are either already implemented or in development. A worthy application of all that unused data.



BY Rob Grant ON 13 April 2016