Customer Experience

Northwestern Mutual’s VP of Digital Product Describes How to Deliver Remarkable Experiences for Every Generation

Vivek Bedi, Vice President of Digital Product at Northwestern Mutual, offered tips to help organizations deliver exceptional digital experiences to customers of all ages during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CX membership at the 2018 Customer Experience Leadership Forum: Creating Experiences for the Hyper-Connected Customer in New York on October 4. In his presentation, “From Gen Z to Grandparents: Building Remarkable Experiences for Every Generation,” Bedi explained how organizations can foster long-lasting partnerships with customers across all generations.

Digital is reshaping the way that organizations connect with customers. It also requires organizations to rethink how they can engage Millennials who regularly use mobile devices and other state-of-the-art technologies to interact with brands.

Northwestern Mutual traditionally operated as a paper-based organization. It provided life insurance and various financial services to customers, but it failed to optimize the value of digital technologies.

Ultimately, Northwestern Mutual needed to rework its digital strategy, as its customers often struggled to engage with the organization via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. To bolster its digital strategy, Northwestern Mutual initially evaluated its target audience, as well as its mission and goals.

“We had no mobile apps, and we had no experience that you could log into until you became our client,” Bedi stated. “When we came together, we needed to think through who were our customers, and who we were.”

Millennials are a customer base unlike any other. They often use innovative technologies to connect with brands and want to interact with brands in real-time, from any location, and at any time. As such, organizations sometimes struggle to engage with Millennials. Yet if an organization cannot partner with Millennials, it risks missing out on opportunities to grow its customer base and increase its revenues.

At Northwestern Mutual, the organization allocated time and resources to learn about Millennials. This allowed Northwestern Mutual to gain the insights it needed to provide Millennials with the best-possible digital experiences.

Northwestern Mutual found that Millennials frequently leveraged mobile devices. At the same time, Millennials often wanted to maintain a “human” connection with brands.

“[Millennials] want to gravitate toward a mobile device, but they also want someone to talk to,” Bedi pointed out. “And they want to make sure that who they are talking to is thinking about their interests.”

To further improve its digital strategy, Northwestern Mutual developed “pizza pie” teams, too.

Pizza pie teams are designed to foster collaboration and innovation. Although pizza pie teams are commonly used at technology companies, Northwestern Mutual deployed pizza pie teams to drive digital transformation across its insurance and financial services operations.

Each Northwestern Mutual pizza pie team included employees from multiple departments who would brainstorm ideas. Plus, each team was responsible for delivering a new release every two weeks – something that led to unparalleled innovation across Northwestern Mutual.

“We needed to transform and change the way that we work,” Bedi said. “We now have teams that consist of about six to eight people … who own a function and drive it day in and day out.”

Northwestern Mutual also collected and evaluated client feedback. By working with its customers, Northwestern Mutual identified its strengths and weaknesses relative to its digital experiences. The organization then used this feedback to improve its digital experiences.

“We’re interviewing our clients, getting their feedback and bringing that into the mix,” Bedi indicated. “And we’re also balancing the feedback that we get.”

Northwestern Mutual enhanced its digital experiences and remains committed to ongoing digital experience improvements. The organization enables customers of all generations to engage with courteous, knowledgeable insurance and financial professionals at their convenience. Additionally, Northwestern Mutual continues to explore ways to use its digital experiences to differentiate itself from the competition.

For example, Bedi indicated that some Northwestern Mutual customers preferred bar charts over pie charts. Other customers, meanwhile, liked to use pie charts to evaluate their Northwestern Mutual insurance and financial services portfolios.

Northwestern Mutual used this customer feedback to offer its clients the flexibility to access bar or pie charts. That way, the organization was able to accommodate the requests of clients across multiple generations.

“Our younger generation wants the bar chart, and our older generation wants the pie chart, so we decided to make both of them available,” Bedi stated.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to deliver outstanding digital experiences, to all customers, at all times. Instead, an organization must maintain flexibility and adapt to its customer requests every day.

“You need to work with your community and compromise,” Bedi noted. “Sometimes, it’s about compromising and working with your community to find the right experience that suits all generations.”

With the right technologies in place, an organization can deliver amazing digital experiences. These technologies also allow an organization to monitor its digital experiences and determine if they match or exceed customers’ expectations.

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE LEADERSHIP FORUM - San Francisco in San Francisco, CA on Feb 27, 2020

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