Innovation at the customer coalface.
AXA delivers its insurance products in the UK through third party brokers. Not ‘owning’ the customer relationship was causing AXA to lose out through a lack of customer focus and insight – especially in its product design. AXA therefore commissioned its first ever piece of bespoke, large scale customer research. The challenge was to make sure this investment paid of by delivering competitive advantage through in an improved customer focus, innovation and practical ideas for change.
Often when market research is commissioned the results are analysed by the commissioning department and presented to business leaders through this filter. Leaders then make their own decisions about the implications of the research and recommend a response – top down. The Space designed a series of workshops at AXA where the research results were first shared with people working at the customer interface – for example in claims call-centres. A team from the research department was trained to facilitate these workshops which took place throughout the UK involving hundreds of people. The insight and recommendations from these workshops were then shared with the UK senior leadership team through a final workshop to assess ideas and insights and to design a response.
The claims staff generated hundreds of ideas for innovation and change in response to the research. Many of these were in areas where change had been difficult to address in the past – such as shift patterns and bonus frameworks. Many were in totally unexpected areas that wouldn’t previously have been associated with ‘customer focus’. Because the ideas had been generated by claims staff when the eventual action plan and change programme emerged from the leadership it was much better understood and more positively engaged with than previous large scale change efforts. The leadership valued a new dialogue with claims staff – having an enhanced appreciation of their creativity and ability to deliver customer insight. For their part claims staff felt empowered to continue suggesting new ideas based their experience and the deeper understanding they had gained through exposure to the ‘raw’ research.