Is this the hottest brand hitting Australia right now?

There aren’t many growth stories quite like Qualtrics.

In January 2010 they had 37 employees, by December 2013 there were 260 employees and now (Oct 2014) there are over 550 employees. They’re going through hyper-growth and there are no plans to slow down.

The Utah-based start-up, which produces cloud-based survey software, recently secured $150 million in venture capital. The new stream of funding has been allocated to product development and overseas expansion.

In addition to the HQ in Utah, last year saw expansion to Dublin; the office grew from 3 to 50 employees in a year – next year the aim is to be around the 100 mark.

They’re now about to take on the same mission is Sydney.

Bill McMurray is the man tasked with the job.

Starting out as just a team of just three renting out office space in the Sydney CBD.

However, that’s all going to change pretty quickly.

“I’m currently in the process of securing 8,000 sq ft of office space in Sydney. We’re unlike most organisations that taper at around the $100 million mark – Qualtrics is still going through rapid growth.

“We’re aiming to be over 50 employees in Australia within 12 months and then we’ll start building out local operations in key APJ countries.” Explained Bill.

But the team aren’t starting from scratch, deployment has been years in the making and they already have an impressive 250 active customers here in the region.

Bill explained how people have been at the core of the organisation’s success and are consistently provided opportunity at the same rate as business growth:

“It’s the people that have really driven this business. They’ve been tapping away and built up a great base before we even arrived. Opportunities are passed down to the people in the organisation, I’m a firm believer in promotion from within.”

Tim’s story

The man behind the mission…. And it’s not who you’d expect.

Tim Pales was a man with a plan. It started back when he had one year left of his course studying Chinese and Business at BYU. Like most students Tim took a part time job.

It was 2008 when Tim joined Qualtrics – as employee number 29. He’d be at school all day and on the phones all night. The night calling was a very deliberate decision for Tim “My interest was always APAC. I had lived and studied in Asia and coupling that experience with my focus on business in school it seemed like a good fit. Seeing how rapidly the economies in Asia were growing, I knew there would be good opportunities there.”

“We first focused on academics and we successfully managed to land pretty much all of the major universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

The last three years have been spent managing his own sales team whilst building business in Australia, without so much as an office space here.

With continued success year on year, it wasn’t long till Tim became a senior manager. The mission never faltered “The goal has always been to create a problem so we had to come here. It got to a point where (after pushing it for three years) there was enough of a customer base in APAC. The appetite was there, the time was now – it was time to go.”

Whilst excelling quota for both him and his team members, Tim and John developed a full business plan for launch here in Australia. Part of that plan – hire an exec: “Qualtrics needed executive leadership on the ground in Australia. I have been fortunate to manage teams but I wasn’t the guy to strategically launch Qualtrics here. I found myself in the unique position of helping our executive team hire my new boss.”

Sitting with the team of three in their temporary rented office in Sydney, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you were chatting to a group of guys about to start their own business. Bill McMurray jokes “We see this as we’ve just started private school and have our parents financing – we’re all so interested in this region, it’s exciting to lead the launch here.”

Coming soon…. John’s story

This was John’s first role out of university. Like most he started in entry level sales 3 and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last 21 months he’s had 4 promotions.

How? The company has a really clear development path, it’s not based on politics or people leaving – it’s based purely on performance.

Every quarter you’re given a quota. Hit the quota of the level above you for 2 quarters, you get promoted. It’s that simple.

John played a big role in developing the business plan and now as part of the landing team, is a big part of leading the roll out in the region.

Article published on behalf of Salient Group, we connect great talent to fast growth brands. If you’re interesting in hearing more about brands like Qualtrics sign up here.

I’ve changed my mind on content.

I didn’t start out in content. I didn’t even know I liked it till a few years ago, but always enjoyed the basic principle of telling stories.

It started at the age of 13, although granted that was mostly my brother and I telling porkies – the most elaborate stories to see what we could get away with. Completely fabricated but entirely fun. (Sorry mum)

In my first content role, I soon learned a side of storytelling previously undervalued – honesty. I was pretty lucky in the role, with access to some of Australia’s most interesting professionals. It opened my mind to the story in somebody’s day to day. What’s nothing to them, is something to someone else.

Writing came second. I actually used to hate writing. But then I realised it was just because I didn’t like the theory style writing your conditioned to use during university. I soon discovered the joys of writing a sentence based on opinion, rather than the pages of what someone said in a book.

The most enjoyable part has been meeting people, getting to know their journey then sharing their story.

The aim – get insight from one experience that will add value to someone else on a similar journey. Essentially, offer solutions where no one else can.

Year on year a new wave of tips and best practices have emerged as more and more content has emerged, and whilst I agree with it tactically. Recently I found myself changing my opinion on the underlying principle of producing content

It all started when the LinkedIn publishing platform extended. I found myself not getting ‘value’ from 90 per cent of the articles, yet kept coming back and soon found that I was visiting for a different reason, I was drawn to the stories

I used to think good content was a piece of content that solved a particular challenge, something that offered value for a particular circumstance. A how to, top tips, whitepapers etc.

The simple truth is everybody likes a story.

At every stage of life, you just never grow old of them. And rightly so.

It’s a huge opportunity that excited me as a content marketer.

As an example, my personal standout is GoPro. I remember seeing the video of thekitten being resuscitated. I immediately liked the brand.

Over time I’ve always watched their videos, never once giving me a ‘value takeaway’ on how to take better photos or edit great films. They never gave me a CTA, they never ensured there were banners across all my touch points. I didn’t get a sponsored Facebook post, or a timely email with a discount code. If there is a funnel, they’ve sure disguised it well.

But I want one, granted maybe i’m being greedy. But I want to make videos that capture a moment the way they do. I’m completely sold. All because they told me a few well told stories.

Don’t get me wrong, couldn’t agree more that strategy, analytics and all those things have a huge role to play in helping us get the right content to the right people. But it served me with a reminder of exactly why I’m in this profession…. To share great stories from one person to the next.

What do you think, value takeaway or story? What makes great content for you?

Share your thought on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141010034408-107004231-i-ve-changed-my-mind-on-content

Change is coming to HR… Are you ready?

Business transformation was previously driven by a focus on cost savings. It’s maturing at a rapid pace to focus on the customer, standardising functions where possible to drive efficiency and new service standards.

Any function involving transformation brings the people to the forefront – as a result, HR has become a strong voice in the boardroom.

Last week saw the return of APAC’s largest business transformation event. SSON’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Week really shone the spotlight on HR transformation throughout 2014 and into 2015.

Although we’ve seen a rapid change in the HR function of many organisations over recent years, there’s still plenty on the horizon. A few key areas stood out that I wanted to share with you. There’s also a practical look at some of the tips shared for the most common theme of the event… change management.

Process Standardisation

It’s going to be a tough balancing act between standardisation and specialisation – finding that balance is going to be critical to success.

Without standardisation it’s going to be nearly impossible to use KPIs to chart improvements as the HR function continues to become more strategic. It’s time to start thinking about:

  • How do you balance standardisation vs. specialisation?
  • What is the role of global process owners in standardisation?

Recruitment process

As it gets tougher and tougher to find the right skills to fit the right culture, organisations are starting to think outside the box when it comes to recruitment. With software engineering, energy and life sciences, mathematics, IT, and other technical skills in short supply, companies need to expand their sourcing and recruiting to a global level. That could mean locating work sites where the best talent can be found and building talent networks that attract people worldwide.

A couple of key questions are hot on the lips of many HR execs…

  • Should recruitment be kept in-house?
  • How do you select an RPO partner?

Culture

Long gone are the days when culture was just a nice add-on for organisations. Culture fit is going to have a big impact on recruitment; it’s no longer just about matching skills and salary expectations. This will no doubt be the make or break of many relationships for the organisations choosing to go down the outsourcing path for recruitment.

Enabling flexibility

There have been many studies demonstrating the focus on BYOD and flexible working. This is going to have a huge impact on HR, employees are going to get to choose how they want to work, and the business has to be agile enough to make it work.

Retention

Instead of making HR jobs obsolete, technologies will transform them, allowing HR professionals greater ability and more time to do their jobs and develop their skills improving recruitment and retention.

The key question: How can data be used to drive recruitment and retention practices?

A few of the case studies discussed how 99 per cent of the time on data has been spent looking for it, with 1 per cent left to analyse it and no time to action it. Data has some real potential to improve retention, offering insights to employees – something never before possible.. This won’t just be the fancy software; almost all speakers who have been through HR transformation spoke highly of employee surveys and implementing Employee Value Propositions (EVP).

Keeping momentum

The Hackett Group came armed with some statistics looking at where the focus was for continuous improvement over the next 12 months – talent management was a clear stand out.

Change management doesn’t end at installation; change leaders will have to embed the change principles into the day to day development of employees.

Change Management – The insiders tips.

Without doubt change management is still one of the biggest challenges any organisation faces. It’s clear to see why: process improvement, customer service, technology – it means nothing without happy staff driving it.

Here’s a summary of some key takeaways to consider in your organisation:

  • Drive it from the start. It’s a long term goal with the aim to be customer focused; all employees should respect and value each other and keep that front of mind.
  • Be firm. Don’t be afraid to send a message that if you’re not going to come on the journey for improvement, consider if it’s time to move on.
  • Culture sits next to strategy and operational excellence – build the values from the ground up and spend the time with the staff. All your service efforts are banking on it.
  • Don’t merely lift and shift when it comes to shared services or outsourcing – just because you’ve moved it, doesn’t mean the job is done. Take a look at exactly what the implication is for the business and the staff that work there. Change management and culture might be in the shared service centre, but what’s happening with the people left? The new challenge is to learn how to engage the shared service centre.
  • Be clear on the lines of reporting – your staff will get frustrated if they can’t get responses or outcomes.
  • Standardise where possible – simplify, standardise and leverage. Align the template to your own issues, take the methodology and link it to your own culture or environment. It’s about winning people’s hearts and minds and engaging them in what you’re doing. Using a template doesn’t always account for that – it’s just a starting point.
  • Look at what to use, when to use and how to use – there’s science to change management, and the art comes with how you use it.
  • Use analytics and insights – change can be hard to measure, but it’s not impossible. Use engagement surveys and indicators of satisfaction around sick leave, training, meeting participation and engagement rates. All can provide you with a benchmark to measure success – if that engagement goes up, you’re onto a winner.
  • Be flexible and adapt to your drivers – what drives your employees now might not drive them tomorrow.
  • Finally… Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more.

Employee engagement: One simple idea… One mighty impact.

Customer Experience is a term that’s become very familiar to me recently. Pretty much all of the events I work across have a customer element to them, so I was interested to see what Customer Experience Management 2014 was going to offer up.

We’re part way through day one, and it’s pretty exciting down here. When I first got down here, I was expecting to hear a whole heap of the usual buzzwords; centricity, digital, journey and so on.

There’s always been one element of CX which stood out as a challenge, and that’s change. With the world we’re in now, it’s inevitable. As one of our speakers said earlier: ‘It’s not about what we did last year anymore, it’s not even last month – change is a daily constant’. For that reason, the spotlight is well and truly on employee engagement. After all, they are the ones driving change within any business.

Without making any sweeping statements, and probably unfair ones, there’s a lot of ‘same-same’ CX talk around the web these days. But today I was stopped in my same-same thinking tracks by a simple idea that lit up the entire room.

And it’s called A Personal Board.

So what is it? Quite simply, the notion that every single employee, upon recruitment, builds their own personal board of directors across the business. It’s an idea that comes from eBay, where every member of staff is tasked with the challenge of looking across the business – all levels and in all countries – to find a role they’d be interested in knowing about. They then pick up the phone and ask the person to be involved in their informal board. This helps with a few things:

  • Keeps employees engaged
  • Breaks down silos within the organisation
  • Drives innovation
  • Builds a network
  • Encourages communication
  • Helps drive change

So what does it take?

The smart thing that eBay has done is demonstrate the importance of the project to every single employee. People have a job to teach, but there’s no reason why you can’t start to do the same. It’s an informal process and only takes one person to drive it. Begin with your new starters and watch it spread.

I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of checking in with a few people across the business worldwide to get their thoughts or hear about their priorities.

P.S – if you haven’t been down to CEM 2014…. you should. They have mini-golf and everything.

Outsourcing? Don’t trip up on customer experience…

We’re starting to see some real changes in the Shared Services industry. Whilst the earlier focus on delivery cost remains important, the all-in cost to the enterprise is more in focus.  SLAs are becoming less important as users are realising that green SLAs don’t feel green, cheap does feel cheap, and the lack of the ‘right’ service is spawning an increase of shadow services across the enterprise eating into the initial estimated business case benefits.

The earlier solution to cost pressures through increased scale is facing into the reality that there are two curves at work – benefits of scale versus cost of complexity, and as you scale out across processes the added complexity can cause your benefit case to turn negative.

There is a need to look at this again, and this time from a different direction; the customer perspective, rather than purely from a cost and efficiency perspective.    For the cost element, Shared Services need to be looking to manufacturing to learn new tricks.  Whilst lean has been a buzzword for years, the new focus on lean in the context of a component based service delivery model is gaining ground.

“View every process as if you’re a customer, and then apply learning from the manufacturing industries – when you start doing this you start moving your services away from products and to a customer centric process.” Explained Simen Munter, Group General Manager of Global Shared Services at ANZ when I recently caught up with him to discuss the changing nature of ANZ’s business.

Five years ago, ANZ embarked on a strategic transformation which recognised there was a unique opportunity to create value for shareholders by broadening its presence in Asia, whilst leveraging its strong foundation in Australia and New Zealand, to become a super regional bank.   The move recognised that a once-in-a-century shift was underway in the global economy as growth opportunities moved from the developed economies of the West to the Asia Pacific region.

“Instead of running 33 different banks, we want to be able to gain scale benefits and run as one bank across the 33 markets in which we operate. To do this we have significantly invested in our operations network across the region.

Our hubs network is expanding ANZ’s operations capability to support business growth in a way that is sustainable and cost effective. As a part of our super regional growth strategy we have operations in Australia, New Zealand, Manila (the Philippines), Chengdu (China), Bangalore (India) and Suva (Fiji).”

ANZ Operations

In Shared Services we aspire to operate  through a set of processes which are globally consistent, but able to handle local variations. We work to have the right people in the right locations to offer the best service to our customers.

Simen explained: “Specialist hubs help us build a super regional workforce, giving us access to capabilities that may be limited in our domestic markets. The Manila hub, for example, is a centre of excellence in voice based work. Our hubs are built around local talent pools and expertise.”

“Capability and capacity are the main drivers of a customer centric operating model. Staff in operating hubs provide additional capability to deal with increased volumes and allow in-country teams to focus on other activities that support business and customer outcomes. We work towards sharing products, platforms and processes across our geographies to give us the ability to build a ‘single production line’ and maximise re-use wherever possible.

“A key benefit of our approach is the ability to access ‘been there and done that’ talent, enabling us to leverage experience gained elsewhere. Take things like payroll and accounts payable, we have 33 markets to run this for. To find people who are experienced at running that kind of complexity is very difficult in Australia, whereas some global companies have done this for years. By being able to tap into a wider pool of skillsets across multiple locations we can leverage these learnings and operate more efficiently.“

“There is a real opportunity through blending highly skilled employees with low cost delivery so that we can be both locally competitive and cost effective. Nowhere is this as important as when you are competing in low cost locations.”

Looking for the extra edge

Looking at what you do from a customer perspective is challenging, as current best practice has been focused on SLAs and not based around the moving target of providing excellent customer service.   SLAs are typically set at the worst outcome your customer is willing to accept – meeting that consistently is hardly a good measure of success.

Simen explains: “The focus cannot be on these types of measures, the focus must be on solving the issue for your customer. My approach to shared services leverages skill and expertise across our regions to design, build and deliver services with the customer in mind.

“You’ve really got to focus on quality, as bad quality is a driver of resource requirements. The other focus is to ensure that the work being done is worth doing or is it work which exists as a result of failure in other processes.  We are seeing substantial opportunities in ‘turning off’ volumes by fixing things at source by looking beyond the current process and into what would have been ‘perfect’.

“We have seen a significant uptake in both external customer satisfaction and  internal customer satisfaction over recent  years.  It’s something we’re spending a lot of resources on as we see that as critical for our long term success.

“We focus on getting the customer service right and embed this  in our processes.

Also, when you have satisfied customers it gives you the room you need to further innovate and improve. If you are on the backfoot with quality you are spending all your time firefighting.  I don’t want great firefighters, I want superb ‘fire prevention officers’ – the people whom are able to look at things which are ‘not perfect’ and change them prior to issues becoming real service issues.”

Increased expectations

For outsourcers, these changes in approach can be quite complicated. Previously a product or transaction based approach was the norm, and you could meaningfully quote for particular parts of a business.  In a component based enterprise, the ‘end to end’ products disappear as many processes are identical across products and there is a new need to offer value beyond undertaking a particular type of ‘set in concrete’ work.

“This is similar to what happened in manufacturing decades ago, you can’t just aim to deliver to outdated SLAs, you have to own the outcomes in a very different way, as your element is integrated into the overall service delivery in a much more holistic manner.  The outsourcer needs to make sure they drive the innovation within their area, it isn’t only about the ‘run’ and meeting SLAs anymore.

“You need a competitive advantage beyond offshoring.  Outsourcers really need to bring something which adds value beyond the  added complexity of engaging with them, demonstrating they know what a business wants, they know what good output looks like and they know how to do it effectively.

“Overall, we’re seeing a strong growth in the industry towards work going to captives as they have proven to be more effective in driving adaptive change – it is difficult to outsource change. However, as organisations are increasingly process oriented, there’s a huge opportunity for outsourcers to provide large scale processes offering standardization while leveraging capabilities across multiple customers.” said Simen.

“I continue to see Global Shared Servicesas a key growth area in the corporate world, and an exciting area of opportunity for talent.  The specialist skill-sets required to effectively use a global delivery model, optimise skill-sets across talent pools and locations,  automation, organisation, production management is valued and there is a level of excitement about how the world of service delivery is changing.

“We are also seeing real opportunities in other areas, for instance, reporting and analytics is an important area for us.  We see that as a huge growth area, both in terms of offering the service to others across ANZ, but also in terms of using those insights into operating more effectively ourselves.

“There are two golden rules: quality cannot go down and price cannot go up. We don’t believe we need to compromise on quality to get the cost benefit when we do this right.

“Our customers need consistency, effectiveness and efficiency and that is what we aim to deliver,”said Simen.

“If you look at what’s successful from our perspective there’s only two metrics which really matter: customer satisfaction and cost.”

Join Simen during Shared Services & Outsourcing Week 2014 where he’ll be delivering the presentation Driving out Costs while Improving Internal Customer Service Delivery.

How the Dept of Justice developed an assurance governance mapping tool…

Have you been tasked with providing an analysis of how assurance activities within your organisation are mitigating against risk?

Ahead of ERM for Government 2014,  Jacinthe Galpin, Director Risk and Audit at the Victorian Department of Justice gave us a sneak peak of developments across risk management….

Jacinthe is an innovative governance executive with over 15 years’ experience across public and private sector corporations, including the Australian Taxation Office, British Petroleum, Telstra Corporation and the Department of Justice.

Jacinthe believes that governance functions can – when well executed – not only provide robust assurance and comfort but can also deliver innovative best appropriate practice.

The Department of Justice Victoria has developed an assurance governance mapping tool. Can you give us some background on what this is and why it was developed?

An assurance governance map is an one-page analysis of how assurance activities in organisations are mitigating against risks. Assurance governance mapping allows an organisation to assess both the presence, and effectiveness of, governance, risk and control processes. It also highlights opportunities for realistic reduction of assurance activity (if existing activity is sufficient) or where assurance activity must be increased (if existing activity is insufficient).

While assurance governance mapping may not tell you anything new, it distils information from a variety of inputs into a single point, allowing organisations to see their risk and control environment on one page as an executive summary of an organisation’s risk environment.

The Department of Justice is a complex and diverse organisation. Assurance governance mapping will help us understand our risk environment – our exposures, threats and opportunities – and make informed and intelligent decisions about that environment. It will help our decision making and strengthen the intelligence and data we use to make those decisions.

With increased regulatory and compliance requirements, how important is it for public sector organisations to understand and manage their risks?

Public sector organisations must have frameworks in place to identify, analyse, evaluate and treat risk. The community expects nothing less.

A good risk management framework increases organisational awareness of exposures, threats and opportunities, and gives its owner the tools with which to manage those risks to acceptable levels.

Can you give us some insight into the findings of your mapping tool? And how has this made you reassess your approach to difference kinds of risk within the department?

The Department of Justice’s tool is still in development so I can’t speak about the findings yet. However, we expect to be surprised by the end result as assurance governance mapping is usually an exercise where everyone ends up learning a little more about their business. History shows that organisations tend to saturate known risks with control structures whilst the severe and protracted problems are a little tougher to deal with and, as a result, control activity tends to be more limited or targeted. My own personal experience has shown me that in many organisations where severe and protracted problems were critically exposed, it was only via the assurance governance map that the exposure was identified and subsequently treated.

For the Department of Justice, the implementation of assurance governance mapping will enable us to best direct our efforts in terms of control and treatment strategies. We will be able to better target areas of exposures and ensure that our lines of defence remain robust and strong.

Developing a proactive risk culture is a major challenge across the public sector. What strategies can risk leaders deploy to develop a proactive risk culture and build capability in the risk function?

Building and maintaining a culture in which the awareness and discussion of risk is paramount is critical to the successful development and implementation of a risk framework. A good culture is developed with and for its business, is agile and responsive and seeks to embed risk in the day to day operations of a business, rather than a cumbersome additional compliance exercise. A bad culture is one where the executive has decided what the culture is going to be and it is henceforth dictated to staff.

Good risk management leaders should conduct risk surveys, talk to their business and find out what people really want rather than what you think they need. Working closely with your business to institute change by degree may result in slower cultural transformation, but your results will be more sustained and embedded.

Join Jacinthe and key stakeholders from State, Local and Federal Government during ERM for Government 2014.

Too many insurers focusing on process, not experience

There’s a bit of an issue with in the claims industry if this is the case, according to KPMG’s 2013 General Insurance Industry Survey, only 33% of insurers feel their distribution network generates a consistent positive customer experience across all channels. Perhaps even more worryingly, results show 72% of insurers still do not feel their firm’s digital strategy adequately supports building trust with suppliers.

The claims experience is pretty unique; perhaps one of the most emotional many people will go through. When you make a claim, many customers are experiencing a time of trauma. It can be quite difficult to match service levels, procedures and experience. One way to adapt to this is by building trust and rapport between claims representatives and the customer. There are a few different areas that need to be addressed. I recently turned to one of Australia’s leading insurance providers, Allianz, to get some insight.

Engagement and culture

Allianz is continuing to drive employee engagement as a key focus. Allianz was named as the Large General Insurance Company of the Year for the last three years running. Commenting on the most recent award, Niran Peiris, Managing Director said “Allianz’s focus is on delivering a tailored, flexible and competitive service. When it comes to our customers, our philosophy is to deliver a service that builds loyalty, particularly when it comes to delivering on our promise to help them in the event of a claim.”

In addition, the Life Claims area of the business also recently won the 2013 ‘Product of the Year’ at the Australian Banking and Finance’s 2013 Insurance Awards. Praise included ‘The Allianz Life claims experience, which offers customers dedicated specialist Life claims officers ensuring exceptional service.’

Linda Broady, Head of Customer Focus explains the on-going journey across the organisation:

“Developing a strong customer culture and high levels of employee engagement requires sustained focus and attention over the long haul. You can never take your eye off the ball. Creating a truly customer focussed culture is something that only comes from relentless and long term effort and attention, from the top down, and across every part of the organisation. We approach this in a very deliberate way through an ongoing cycle of measurement, action planning, communication, execution and line management accountability.

“Aligned with our focus on building a service culture, creating an engaged workforce is equally important if we are to maintain consistent and exceptional service levels. In addition to driving this via line management accountability, we have Regional Leadership Teams in every geographical location responsible for developing and executing engagement action plans aimed at addressing local opportunities. As a result, our engagement levels continually improve and are well above the Australian norm.”

Recognition is another important lever in creating an engaged workforce and driving service culture. We have local and enterprise recognition programs that recognise and reward customer focussed behaviour, by both internally and externally focussed employees.

“One of our key leadership values is ‘Building mutual trust and feedback’. As part of this we conduct an annual Internal NPS program aimed at generating constructive dialogue and measuring internal service levels. A healthy customer focussed organisation must have a strong service ethic at all levels and across all functions. Employees and managers delivering service to external customers rely on receiving excellent service themselves to be effective.

“In insurance, you get limited opportunities to get it right with the customer, as interactions are typically irregular. Therefore, it’s vitally important we leverage those opportunities when we get them. Having employees who are able to genuinely engage with customers is an essential ingredient in the creation of loyalty and trust. The link between engaged employees, willingness to apply more discretionary effort, and improved service levels is well established, and is central to our beliefs at Allianz.

“It’s widely understood that a claim experience can be a moment of truth for a customer. The circumstances surrounding a claim can often be stressful and associated with heightened emotions. As such, the customer’s experience has the potential to be one of delight or dissatisfaction.

“Employees managing claims need a combination of technical skill and emotional intelligence. Targeting people with a strong service ethic has been a key ingredient in our hiring practices for a number of years, not only within Claims but across the whole organisation. The ability to engage with and have genuine conversations with our customers at every touchpoint and interaction is essential in creating strong relationships.

“The most important time of all is during a claim. Claims specialists need to have a finely tuned antenna to respond with the appropriate amount of empathy and apply good judgement and common sense. For example, a customer calling from a motor accident scene may not be in the right frame of mind to respond to questions that enable us to complete claim lodgement. There are more important issues at stake – for example, is the customer and their passengers OK? Would they simply like reassurance that they can get their car towed away without getting our approval? And, yes, that it’s fine to call back or lodge the claim online or via our Claims app later.”

Nowhere was the importance of having the right people to manage claims more clearly demonstrated than in the case of last year’s NSW Bushfires, where over 200 properties were devastated, and the lives of those impacted were irrevocably changed.

Allianz has an experienced, specially trained team and a robust Event Response Plan that is mobilised into action when these type of catastrophic events occur, including a Mobile Office to ensure we can base our operations wherever they are needed.

However it’s the people that make the difference in times like these. One of our employees involved in working with customers who had been impacted by the NSW Bushfires said, “I noticed [I could] speak with a customer one day and they [hadn’t] retained much of the conversation a few days later. They [were] dealing with the fact that they will need to rebuild their homes and lives and for those doing repairs, they feel guilty for still having a house when others have nothing left. … Some had lost their home, special trinkets, family heirlooms and even pets. All they were left with were memories of their lives. I realised I would have a direct impact on their lives and this was a very powerful and emotional thought for me personally – I formed a connection with all the customers I spoke with”

Build supportive systems

Allianz operates a complex business model, servicing B2B (brokers, motor dealers, mortgage brokers and financial institutions), B2C (direct business) and B2B2C (end customer of intermediaries).

This presents challenges in managing claims, acting on behalf of our partners as well as ourselves.

When a claim is lodged, it is allocated to a Claims Specialist, who is responsible for the smooth and efficient management of the claim. Allianz ensures that other members of the team can assist with enquiries should the customer or a third party (such as repairer or assessor) call when they are unavailable. Linda explains how consistency is ensured:

“We have clear service delivery and behavioural standards and metrics to ensure quality and consistency in execution.

“At the end of the day, the most efficient process is one that suits the customer. If your people practices, systems and processes don’t align with delivering an experience that works for the customer then, not only does it drive a poor experience, it creates inefficiencies and reduces productivity.

One of the areas we’re focusing on right now is end-to-end experience design to ensure we are delivering experiences that fit customer needs and expectations. This starts with understanding the service attributes that define satisfaction at specific touchpoints. Along with redesign, building metrics and methodologies to measure experience from the customer’s perspective and link them to employee accountabilities, is essential to a healthy customer experience ecosystem.

Join Linda Broady during Claims Experience Management 2014 where she will be delivering the Case Study: Embedding a Culture of High Performance: Using Voice of Customer to Reduce Customer Effort and Optimise Service Quality and Consistency.