Digitization is rapidly changing consumer demands. Although B2B companies aim to continue offering their customers the best experience, changes are often difficult to implement as the organizations are mere links in a chain. Plans are realised after companies have researched the demands of their target group and service provision concept, and there is a constant battle between lots of companies for UX talent capable of implementing these customer-oriented innovations.
The ShoppingTomorrow B2B Experience expert group shows how a good customer experience can help improve a company’s position in the supply chain. At each meeting the experts tackle one of three themes: insight, service provision concept and organization. The latter theme, organization, was the focal point at host Episerver in Utrecht and was approached by answering the following questions:
- How do you organize the internal processes in such a way that customers are the focal point?
- How can you implement changes so they are embraced by the employees?
- How can you implement customer-oriented innovations throughout the company? And how do you attract and retain the right people?
Pjotr van Amelsfoort, Product Owner Digital at the corporate division of Centraal Beheer (Centraal Beheer Bedrijven) is responsible for the entire innovation program to improve the digital experience of Centraal Beheer intermediaries. Here are his experiences:
"Our aim is to support the sustainable success of our intermediaries. There are various types of intermediary offices, but generally described as a go-between or consultant. They often serve as the independent party between the insured and the insurer. The intermediary receives a provision for their work where allowed or a fee from the insurer or customer. Like Interpolis, FBTO and Zilveren Kruis, Centraal Beheer is one of the brands under the Achmea umbrella.
The digital journey of our consultants starts in the exploration stage on comparison sites such as Meetingpointadvies and Moneyview. Approximately 80% of the consultants find us via this route and the choice for an insurance product is often made there. Although we would like a better understanding of the customer journey, we have little control over what happens on these comparison sites. The only way to obtain or retain a good position on them is by offering a good service provision and supporting the intermediary’s daily activities as much as possible. Reviews showed that our personal service was highly valued but that we had to make significant improvements in our digital service provision, especially as our competitors are also innovating."
Fixed panel of intermediaries as input for prototype
"We made the first prototypes in 2017, following a long pre-trajectory of mapping the demands of the target group. We had one-on-one meetings based on the customer journey and used a fixed panel of consultants to test the prototypes; a relatively unique approach in the insurance world. It is risky as you don’t know whether the prototype will actually be built, which makes it essential to manage the panel’s expectations. The main benefit of the approach is that you discover what the client wants at a very early stage. As well as being valuable for the continued development of a product, the results of the research also determine how you can convince your internal stakeholders to implement customer-oriented innovations throughout the organization.
Nonetheless, we encountered two internal challenges. On the one hand we saw that it is sometimes difficult to meet customer demands on the product side. Insurance products are not always flexible and require close coordination on the detail level. On the other hand, we found that we cannot always exactly build functionalities as the consultant would like in terms of the IT and design. Consultants mainly want the design to be focused on fast transactions and less on purely commercial principles or campaigns. This occasionally contradicts the developed functionalities or designs.
Our new digital environment should be task-oriented, proactive and personal. This means developing a lot of new features that support these themes, such as notifications at key stages of the intermediary’s customer journey."
Searching for services and products
"We are now undergoing a transformation, looking at services that can strengthen our products. One of the things we have developed is an ‘Open Dialogue’ to supplement our HR products. This platform enables HR professionals from various sectors to exchange knowledge and work together to resolve HR issues in cooperation with TNO and Nyenrode Business Universiteit."
"It is crucial that internal stakeholders are continuously involved in this process. We frequently discuss all trajectories with the steering group and the change team to inform or see whether we can realise cross-pollination. We also show all employees what we are working on. Walls full of post-its from the scrum teams help realise this, and we also organised work sessions in the central hall in which partners and employees from various disciplines worked on a customer journey. This generated a lot of attention from colleagues."
Innovation attracts digital talent
"As an insurance company we face a major challenge in attracting the right talent. Our digital initiatives are designed to show that we are by no means a ‘boring insurance company’. An example is Lab 55, Centraal Beheer’s innovation lab which is characterized by an innovation ecosystem and the lean start-up way of working. We are actively working together with parties such as start-ups, other corporates, partners, students and local businesses.
Via cooperation at events such as hackathons we can connect the internal and external world. We organize innovation pitches to show what we are doing in the digital landscape. We also launched our own start-up called RoadGuard, work with partners on our digital security service Cyber, and are quickly developing new services such as smartphone repairs. These initiatives are developed rapidly, start small and are then continued further via an agile approach in compact teams. This says something about the new dynamics in our organization and has a positive impact on attracting digital talent."
“It is important for us to show that digital at Centraal Beheer is a dynamic playing field.”Pjotr van Amelsfoort
ShoppingTomorrow: participating in the B2B Experience expert group
This is the second time that I have participated in an expert group. The first involved Personalized eCommerce, which was in line with the role I held then. In view of my current position, I now wanted to be part of the B2B expert group. I wanted to discuss whether B2B is really so different than B2C, and compare my own vision to the approach we are taking now – especially in the field of digital and customer experience.
The experts in this group all have a senior level, so we are a good match. Even though there are some very different kinds of companies involved, such as technical wholesalers, I still learn a lot. This is underlined by the diversity in the customer cases. I noticed that we talk a lot about data, while in last year’s group on Personalized eCommerce we mainly spoke of the application of data in the customer experience. There, data was seen as a tool (information), no matter how crucial the data eventually was in terms of being relevant to customers. I would actually like customer interaction to play a more prominent role and sit down and work on that. Perhaps this is something for next year when we follow up on this group."