For a business that is built around conversations, the shift to digital during the pandemic has posed a challenge. Alastair Pegg, Group CMO at A-Plan Insurance, says that data has become more important than ever in finding customers and establishing a relationship.
A veteran of Nationwide Building Society and most recently the Co-op Bank, Alastair joined the insurer in June. A top priority since then, he says, has been spent familiarising himself with a business which extensively relies on a personalised approach.
A-Plan has been investing in digital and data in order to offer a truly “omnichannel” service which takes account of the varying media through which a customer might interact with the brand. The goal has been to ensure that customers receive the same personalised experience whatever channel they begin the journey on, including over the phone from the team who are now working from home.
The company has a primarily conversation-driven approach to winning customers, using direct interaction to recommend personalised plans to every customer.
Usually, much of this activity is done from its physical branches. However, the lower footfall on high streets has inevitably pushed more activity to telephones and online.
“Anyone can do anything online now; we’ve seen a massive pace for people embracing the digital environment and accepting the internet as a channel they can embrace and do things.”
“A lot of insurance customers start their journey online, but our business is about having a conversation to ensure they get the right cover for the right price. There’s no denying that price is always a huge factor in insurance and we need to reflect that, but it’s not just the best price but the best for your needs.
“We’re not as well-known as some competitors, but we know we deliver a great service for clients. We have to push some of those buttons to make sure people know that.”
As the brand has strong net promoter scores and Trustpilot ratings, customers tend to be happy to recommend it to others. The challenge is not customer experience but in “get[ting] people to be interested in a brand that is not well known but [offers great service].”
Alastair uses a range of “demographic and attitudinal” data to identify people who are approaching insurance renewal dates or those with a specialist need who will not be served with. The company also uses the likes of location data to recommend people to travel to their local branch.
While each channel has to be treated differently, there are core elements which are consistent, such as the go-to-market offering and the brand positioning.
Since the brand is built around its breadth of offering and its ability to cater to more specialist and complex needs, A-Plan steers clear of comparison sites.
“Comparison sites work for some people, but when you have a more complex or specialist need, the standard quote may not work.”
Alastair’s marketing activities cover both retention and acquisition. Post-purchase communications include sending a steady stream of relevant content to customers after purchase, mainly consisting of interesting stories.
“We don’t bombard them; we try to keep everything current and be relevant at the right time.”
He gives examples such as travel advice and a calculator which directs people who have bought car insurance to the lowest priced fuel in their area.
“We’ve gone through a tumultuous amount of change and so we’re trying to keep clients informed about their cars and the regulations about when you’ll be able to take your car abroad.”