With visions and aspirations far beyond health insurance, nib is bringing a data-first approach to its marketing, sales and service teams that is revolutionising customer experience. Josh Griffiths, nib’s Group Manager - Marketing Automation, tells us how.

 

At nib we want to be more than just a health insurer. We want to be a health partner, something that we think is an evolving concept for the insurance industry at the moment.

What does it mean to be a health partner? That we will constantly change and evolve, but right now we see it as delivering more personalised, real-time communications and experiences to our members – ones that focus on overall health and wellbeing as much as information about claims and policies.

It might involve a health savings account, a wellness app that gives people personalised tips, or offer pre- and post-hospital advice. It could be a customised health or fitness management program, or an automated system that checks exactly what a customer is covered for at a specific hospital.

‘Health partner’ could mean any number of things. We don’t want to overcook it, we just want to test various ideas to find out what really resonates with people.

The one thing we can be sure of, though, is that it absolutely has to involve understanding where individuals are in their health journey. That is the key to us being able to create better and relevant customer experiences.

Ultimately, we’re going from being reactive to proactive. Particularly in the current environment with COVID-19 and the ongoing effects it’s having, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in our customers’ lives as well as trends in the wider industry. 

We want to add value to people’s lives by proactively improving their health. And if we do it right, the opportunities are very exciting.

A conduit between marketing, sales and IT

To make all of this possible, we had to bring our data-driven marketing capabilities in-house, rather than relying on third-parties. We spent the past 12 months making this transition. It meant developing the skills of our in-house team, and finding the right technology solutions to support us. Now, the marketing automation team sits between IT, marketing and sales.

Compared to when we outsourced some of our marketing functions, by bringing it in-house we’ve experienced a 30% reduction in agency cost and a 60% reduction in time-to-market.

It’s also brought us the ability to quickly scale what works. We’re now initiating campaigns end-to-end in two weeks, maximum. This includes proofing, testing and design. Depending on the campaign, we can actually push it much faster – we’ve initiated some campaigns in 24 hours. 

It’s all built on Marketing Cloud and includes such solutions as Email Studio and Journey Builder, plus apps such as CloudPages and Automation Studio. And then there’s Datorama for AI-powered marketing analytics.

Being where we are in the organisation, we can take requests and make them happen. We now have the necessary capabilities in-house to remain agile and responsive, to test new products and offerings quickly, and to optimise for various channels and boost speed-to-market.

The next 12 months will be all about optimising, building capabilities and looking at how we can do things differently. We’re already developing a reputation as a team that can make things happen quickly and nimbly. In doing so, we’re also creating a centre of excellence that all departments can utilise to ensure customer experience is constantly improved. 

We’ve found it's really effective to have this group acting as an internal innovation hub. It means there’s a dedicated team of people whose job it is to find better ways to do things, to always challenge the status quo, and to be this engine of change that’s driving more agile responses.

Truly personal customer journeys

Having everything held in one central system is key – a great CRM solution means all the crucial bits of information are accessible, and we can try new things without having to stand up our own systems or invest heavily in IT development. Marketing Cloud gives us insights around what needs tweaking to create a better outcome.

Even for very simple things, like our EDMs, it has made a significant difference. The newsletter was previously going out to most of our customer base and had an open rate of 30% to 35%.

We split out people who hadn’t opened it and sent them more personalised emails, discovering ways to make the messaging more relevant over time through testing. The open rate for some of our campaigns now sits around 65%. It has all come from treating people as individuals and seeing how we can tweak our personalisations, send people down different pathways and keep engaging them. 

We want to apply this same approach to sales, to lapsed customers, to new markets, releasing campaigns in real-time and then dabbling in data science to create far better results. The team is currently investigating how automation can help our sales teams determine next best actions. Data is also helping us build better customer journeys and direct members down the best possible path – whether that’s engaging with us online or through a call centre.  

Marketing dollars go much further when you’re targeting people who are more likely to generate the outcome you’re looking for.

Most importantly, customer experience is transformed via such an approach, as customers sense the business getting to know them better. Communications become more relevant and proactive. It all becomes more meaningful when it involves something as personal as your own health.

And suddenly the health insurer isn’t just a business you contact only when you need to make a claim or renew your policy. It’s a health partner – a business that’s there before, during and after some of life’s biggest moments.

That’s what we’re targeting in marketing automation. We’re a delivery team that enables other parts of the business. I want to get to a point where we only say ‘no’ to something because it’s a bad idea – not because we don’t have the capabilities to execute it. 

There’s a lot of testing and learning to be done between now and then, and that’s okay because we love to see how we can push boundaries and innovate. We enjoy the challenge of learning. 

We’re building the capabilities we need in-house, enabled by Marketing Cloud and, most importantly, we’re very proud of what we do.

Want to hear more of nib’s story? Check out our video series where Josh Griffiths shares insights from his team’s transformation, as well as how marketers can create great customer experiences.