Gudrun Ziermann im Interview mit Unic zur Mobiliar in der digitalen Welt
Magazine & Blog

Our customers experience us digitally and personally – customer proximity at Mobiliar

  • Stefan Pieren

Mobiliar has been continuously distinguishing itself in the Unic Insurance Benchmark through its distinctive customer proximity. Gudrun Ziermann, Head of «Customer Experience & Digital Access» at Mobiliar provides us with an insight into the Mobiliar’s digital face. She shows us how Mobiliar manages the balance between emotion and simplicity.

Success Formula & Drivers

Ms Ziermann, what’s the strategic importance of the digital channels for acquiring and developing customers?

We are the most personal insurance company in Switzerland – also in the digital world. It is our ambition to offer our customers the best service quality and an outstanding customer experience both in personal contact and during the digital dialogue. One of the elements of our success formula is that our customers can freely choose the access to Mobiliar. Our channels do not compete with each other. Whichever channel the customer chooses to reach us, he will receive the same service for the same price.

Which factors influence the customer behaviour today?

The world becomes more and more digital, and the customers’ behaviour becomes increasingly more hybrid-like. It means, they use likewise the traditional and digital contact options: sometimes they keep in touch offline with the company and then again they switch over online. They often change the contact point a number of times in the course of one single request. And this is exactly where the challenge lies: to offer the customers a positive and consistent experience throughout all the interfaces.

Customer Proximity & Digital World

How do you evaluate the customer proximity in the digital world in general?

Customer proximity does not manifest itself anymore simply through being available on all channels and via established touchpoints. Today, customer proximity means to know the customer, his behaviour and his needs at an early stage in order to adjust the dialogue with him. Hence, we ask ourselves at each interaction point: What does the customer need now? Thanks to the digitisation we manage to reach him in his individual context. On this path the technology is only a helping tool: we use technologies not as the goal in itself but to generate added value for our customers.

What are the basic principles that Mobiliar is trying to achieve digital customer proximity with?

Trust is the foundation of customer proximity in the digital world. We build trust through our five-star service, simple and transparent processes and through a personal contact person.

At the same time, we hold on, with full awareness, to our strong, physical local presence. In the moment of truth, when the cellar is under water, emotions run high quickly. Then even digitally-aware people appreciate when there is someone who can help and lend a hand.

It is our ambition to be the most personal insurance company – also in the digital world. We are achieving this by linking the offline and the online world. In this way we can offer added value to the customers. Our customers do not experience us either personally OR digitally. They experience us digitally AND personally.

The basis for customer proximity in the digital world is trust.

On which internal structures do you rely in order to be able to evaluate the customer needs?

Our «Customer Insights» Team gives our customers a face and a voice. We continuously gather and analyse views, needs and expectations. We reveal what makes the customers tick, what annoys them and what pleases and fascinates them. Customer Insights operates as an early warning system for the company, and thanks to it we can monitor societal and market-relevant trends.

Using analytics, we complement this external perspective with the internal view. We evaluate the real behaviour of the customer and compare it with the customer’s perspective. We also check whether the need, which is communicated to us by the customer, corresponds with their actual behaviour, and we derive theory out of the findings in order to optimise the customer experience.

But in the end, all the Mobiliar employees are responsible for the customer experience. The best ideas and insights are of no use when they are not being implemented and lived within the company.

Mobiliar implements the subject «Simplicity» according to our Insurance Benchmark above the average. How do you manage the balance between the complex insurance world and simplification of the processes for the customers?

Our colleagues from the team «Customer Experience» consistently adopt the customer’s point of view in the projects. They provide their support to enable, right from the very beginning, the development of customer-centred and need-oriented products and processes. In our projects we work with great agility, and involve our customers in the development at a very early stage. We conduct focus groups, for instance, in order to gather some early feedback on prototypes and Minimum Viable Products (MVP). The findings are directly incorporated into the next implementation phase.

Gudrun Ziermann gibt Unic Einblick, wie die Mobiliar auch digital Kundennähe schafft
Gudrun Ziermann gibt Unic Einblick, wie die Mobiliar auch digital Kundennähe schafft

Success Measurement & Outlook

The Benchmark is an external perspective; how far, in your personal judgement, has Mobiliar progressed with customer proximity into the digital world?

As a company anchored in cooperative business and having over 160 locations throughout Switzerland, Mobiliar has been close to its customers at all times.
This is true both for the traditional, physical world as well as for the digital world. We do not look at digital access with the silo mentality, but we regard them as integrated components of the entire value-added chain. In this way, the principles that apply to the physical world apply also to the digital world. And vice versa.
In order to ensure the link between both worlds - the offline and the online one - over the entire customer life cycle and throughout the customer journey, the company established «Customer Experience» as an independent discipline just under two years ago. The colleagues from «Customer Experience» promote and drive the shift within the company away from the Inside-Out perspective towards the Outside-In perspective. They do so by consistently putting the customers in the centre of our thinking and our action. Process optimisation, new products, new services but also new contact points: we think, shape and develop all those elements consistently from the customer’s perspective.

The shift from the Inside-Out to the Outside-In perspective requires that we consistently put the customer in the centre of our thinking and action.

What success factors have emerged in your company?

Thanks to its decentralised business model, which is based on General Agencies, Mobiliar stays very near to its customers. The nationwide local presence throughout Switzerland allows us to recognise the regional peculiarities in the customer behaviour at an early stage, and duly consider them. In this way, we involve, for instance, our colleagues from the General Agencies in the development and pilot tests of new services. They know the local market and maintain direct liaisons with the customers, collect their views and know the needs as they are – without any filter being applied. Their expertise and feedback is very important to us.

How do you measure the customer proximity in the digital world?

The relevant measure for us is the feedback which we receive from our customers. We survey, for instance, how happy the customers are with the Mobiliar products and services. We survey the readiness of recommending us further, and determine the Customer Effort Score.

How do you manage to accompany the customer continuously on his decision-making journey?

The digital world differs from the physical offline world predominantly due to the fact that the dialogue is not 1:1 but 1:n. While an insurance consultant can advise only one customer at a time, a consulting tool on a website can serve numerous customers at the same time. But we do not leave the customers alone though but we offer them at any given time the opportunity to exit the online dialogue and continue with a real person – with the personal Insurance Consultant from the neighbourhood. Even there our customers always have a choice between numerous contact points, e.g. telephone, chat or the video advice.

To what extent do you use insurance tech firms to inspire you and pursue business development?

Insurtech stands for innovative solutions working with simple processes, which can pick upon any specific customer need. We observe the market very closely. We also have a team dealing with this subject: it tests and develops new insurance models in the Insurtech field, such as On-Demand Insurance, Micro Insurance and Annex Insurance.

Thereby, we collect experience in the areas ranging from new customer needs, simplicity of products and processes up to new technical possibilities.

About Gudrun Ziermann

Since July 2016, Gudrun Ziermann is Head of the «Customer Experience & Digital Access» at Mobiliar. She is in charge of the digitisation of the core business at the customer interface as well as for optimising and further development of customer experience throughout the entire customer lifecycle and at all touchpoints. The structural changes in the insurance sector through digitisation and the opportunity to actively shape the change animate her strongly.

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