Consultants' Corner

5 Steps to Harmonizing Marketing and Operations

Rod Travers
Insurance Experts' Forum, September 26, 2012

The days of marketing and operations co-existing in a contentious relationship have gone the way of payphones and paper applications. This sea change in the industry is occurring because young adults —that is, today's new customers—demand it. This means that organizations must adjust to a new reality, otherwise they risk watching their top-line revenues shrink.

In line with this thinking are the concepts described in Jonathan Baskin’s book "Branding Only Works on Cattle." Baskin makes the case that buyer behaviors are paramount, and those behaviors are greatly influenced by the buyer’s experience during the pre-sale interaction (“Should I buy from this company?”) and post-sale delivery (“Should I remain a customer of this company?”).

Here are five essential elements that organizations must have to achieve this singularity of purpose between marketing and operations:

1. Understand the path customers follow to purchase your products and services, supported by a visual roadmap of the customer’s journey through your organization.

2. Identify the most influential interactions in the customer’s journey. Ensure that business structures and processes are designed to deliver the highest level of quality and service at those critical points.

3. Anticipate and plan how your company will respond to the variability and unpredictability of circumstances so that your brand is not harmed by unforeseen events.

4. Using the Capability Maturity Model concept of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) levels of performance, build metrics that measure gaps between what customers expect and what you are delivering in these three areas:

a. Brand Communication, ranging from Level 1, “Value proposition is not clearly communicated,” to Level 5, “All areas of organization understand the brand message, train to it, and support their results with measures.”

b. Service Delivery, ranging from Level 1, “Processes are ad hoc and chaotic, with success dependent on the competence and heroic efforts of the people in the organization,” to Level 5, “Continually improves process performance through incremental, innovative and technological improvements.”

c. Knowledge of Customer Needs, ranging from Level 1, “Knowledge of needs is based primarily on anecdotal or second hand information,” to Level 5, “Knowledge of needs based on ongoing formal data gathering from customers and analysis of marketing trends."

5. Monitor and report on your gaps, by presenting a simple chart of the levels achieved across the organization for all three of these areas.

Although this article focuses on marketing and operations, actually all areas of the organization must be engaged in delivering on the customer experience. We suggest building a Linear Responsibility Chart, showing which areas are responsible for what aspect of the customer experience. This helps assure that all areas of the company are contributing toward adding to both the top and bottom line and delivering value.

Rod Travers is EVP at The Robert E. Nolan Co., a management consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry. Robert E. Nolan Executive Director Ben DiSylvester also contributed to this blog post.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Rod using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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