Q&A: Jill Baptist – Insurance Australia Group

We interviewed Executive General Manager of Customer Futures, Jill Baptist on how she navigated the transformation journey at IAG.

Hi Jill, tell us a little about your current role at IAG?

I'm the EGM of Customer Futures for Insurance Australia Group, and am part of the Customer Labs team headed up by our Chief Customer Officer – Julie Batch. In summary, what my team does is help IAG achieve the shift from product, to customer-centricity. We nickname it ‘from customer said, to customer-led’. So instead of talking about it, being it.

I oversee the strategy and performance component which looks at our overall approach to deliver on that shift for the organisation. And within that, the performance and measures; which focus on unlocking customer data, so we have a single source of truth. I’ve also got a Market Research and Insight team, which I’ve recently christened as the “Customer Behaviour team”; who look at both customer attitude, we’re really interested in how customers are actually behaving – so we have embedded a behavioural science capability in there now. I then have an Engagement team who spends pretty much all of their time teaching people within the organisation how to use the frameworks, tools and platforms that we’ve set up to connect them with customers and act on real-time experiences. On top of this, there is also the Customer Culture and Inclusion team who are working on the culture we need to be able deliver on the experiences we want for our customers.

When defining your transformation journey and focus, what are some of the bigger shifts that have comprised the majority of the change?

For me, the biggest thing has been data; that’s what insurance companies do. We gather heaps of data to understand risk and then price that risk – we’ve been doing it for over 500 years. The issue we’ve had at IAG, has been that we have grown very rapidly over the last 20 years, out of acquisition. So, we had a lot of data on customers from a product and risk perspective, but no synthesised information from a customer behaviour or preferences perspective. Consolidating this into a single customer view was absolutely critical.

Then there was an element of unlocking that data to understand our brand momentum; whether our brands are growing, the varying levels of customer awareness, consideration and growth across product lines and demographics throughout all our brands. We don’t provide that level of reporting on all of them, but have built an interactive dashboard in Tableau which allows people to now get insight into what is happening in the market. This has been hugely powerful in helping us gain an understanding of opportunities, which customers are growing, where we are losing customers, the products they are buying or not buying – so that we can better adapt how we design, innovate and market accordingly.

Where have you found there has been some positive buy-in and support vs. where have you had tension?

In all organisations it’s the same thing – the board are all really excited. They get it, they want the organisation to become customer-centric and do it fast. Our frontline people are also hugely customer focussed, particularly our sales, service and claims people. We’ve had great traction with these teams in terms of building what we've called the “listen, learn, act” process. This is our way of getting the voice of the employee into building insights – what I mean by that is understanding what’s getting in the way of our frontline from delivering great service. By giving the frontline power to highlight what isn’t working, whether it can be fixed within teams or if it needs to be elevated into the hierarchy, we’re able to change processes or evolve our products and services to help improve both our customer, and our employee experience.

When I think of where the resistance is, I really don’t think it’s been with people. It’s the normal tension of trying to make sure we’re getting the right balance of investment in the customer and deriving return on that, versus BAU. IAG, like many other companies are grappling with how to shift and consolidate all of our technology platforms, into one. The investment that is put into that is enormous, and you’re competing for it all the time. So, it’s more of a systemic understanding of how to prioritise those investments as an organisation, and balance the needs of people, shareholders, customers and the community.

In terms of the process you go through to do that, have you got a defined approach, and has it evolved over the last couple of years?

I think our divisional, customer facing team certainly have processes in place to do that in terms of operational improvements, but at an enterprise level, it's more of a work in progress. We’ve been building the foundational elements around having a longitudinal view of our customer behaviours. We’re looking at things such as how we’re driving advocacy, what causes detractors and complaints, and what is actually happening with our customers. We’re now starting to overlay predictive analytics so that we can eliminate pain points at the root cause, with the aim to avoid the potential loss of a highly valuable customer. This has been really exciting for us as we’re able to now see where the organisation needs to prioritise customer investments.

We’re also doing a lot of work around digitising our customer journeys, in terms of developing more agile ways of working. My peers are in analytics, data, digital, innovation and venturing, and we all need to collaborate to build in agile ways. We’re all aiming to improve the customer experience by using our existing insights around pain points, ways of optimising and also changing customer expectations around the need for ease of engagement.

If you had a crystal ball and you could do it all over again, what would you do differently and why?

Strategically, if I'd had a crystal ball, I would have been stronger in terms of linking what we were driving from a customer strategy point of view, to an overall group strategy perspective. This would have helped significantly with cohesion instead of just building all the foundational stuff in the background, as it was almost done in in isolation. I think if we had done that, we probably would have moved a bit faster and the organisational maturity around understanding what the customer experience teams can bring, would have been better developed.

On a personal level, it is one of those jobs where you are often on a big roller coaster of super excitement; you get some engagement from a board member or a senior executive where suddenly they've had an “aha” moment and are really supporting you. Enabling your teams with the right tools to deliver an uplifted experience, and seeing real improvement in that area brings about a real excitement about what they’re doing for their customers. So you can have a real high or sense of achievement after those kind of breakthroughs. Other times you battle away for ages, banging your head against what feels like a very solid and immovable brick wall. Staying resilient through that and knowing that you will get there, and that you will have that breakthrough is critical.

My team are also an enormous inspiration and support for me. I have chosen fabulous people and am very lucky to have them. I think IAG, in terms of its purpose of making the world a safer place, is resonating deeply and we're getting much stronger in terms of our journey to be purpose-led as an organisation. We’re attracting some great people who are super energetic and resilient because they're all very anchored in the customer. It's the customer, not them that's important which I think also helps.

For more actionable tips on leading customer-centric growth, download our executive insight pack now: