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Folksam Drives “Nurtured” Customer Relationships Through Co-Developed Customer Interaction Hub

Through the application created in collaboration with Infor and Forrester, the Swedish mutual insurer anticipates better management of sales leads and tailored customer communication in real time.

Swedish insurer Folksam recently enjoyed publicity for the “skydiving cats” commercial made as a result of inviting customers to submit ideas. But Folksam is working at improving its engaging with customers through technology investment as well. The Stockholm-based multiline mutual company recently partnered with Infor (New York) to co-develop a new Customer Interaction Hub, which will be offered to other insurers. Folksam plans to go live on the Hub in May 2013.

Staffan Magnehed
Staffan Magnehed, Folksam

[For more on see I&T's take and a link to the skydiving cats video here.]

Through the Customer Interaction Hub the mutual insurer expects to have better management over its sales leads, aligning information and messaging with the right customer in real time via the appropriate channel. The insurer predicts being able to develop more “nurtured” relationships with its customer and gain a better picture of key life events that may be relevant to their need for different insurance products.

The co-developers of the Customer Interaction Hub, which includes the entire Infor CRM Epiphany Suite, describe the offering as a flexible solution that:

• delivers an infrastructure for the optimal management of interactions, allowing for the real-time cultivation of customer relationships;

• provides the ability to analyze the effectiveness of customer interactions, enabling better understanding of a customer’s most important life events; and

• conveys relevant customer dialogue effectively in combination with marketing, analytical and operational solutions.

Folksam, which invested in Pegasystems’ (Cambridge, Mass.) SmartBPM solution in 2010 to modernize claims as part of its larger transformation efforts, sought to improve its long-standing CRM program to improve wallet share with existing customers, according to Staffan Magnehed, CRM director. “We had an application that we used for planning and campaign management, but we were looking for someone to help us with customer interaction delivered in the right channel in real time,” he says.

Forrester Research helped Folksam with the vendor selection process, including the RFP and proof-of-concept stages. “We wanted a single vendor for the entire marketing platform, responsible for all the Web services through the various channels,” Magnehed recounts. “We knew going in that we wouldn’t find a vendor with everything on the functionality side, so we envisioned a partnership with Forrester and a vendor, and Infor came closest to fulfilling what we needed.”

Folksam’s needs were predicated on its ambition to move from being a product-focused company to relationship-focused company, according to Magnehed. With regard to the Customer Interaction Hub initiative, he says, “We’re trying to cross-sell and up-sell, but we look at selling as a tool to create a long-term relationship. Understanding the customer and finding the right solution for them is the driver to get a loyal customer.”

Folksam will work at bonding with customers by demonstrating understanding of their need for financial security during every contact opportunity, according to Magnehed. “We will build our understanding of the customer through our own system, external sources and of course through each contact itself,” he explains. “We take an outside-in perspective to understand needs through an appreciation of the customer’s situation, which then allows us to offer solutions.”

In addition to the Customer Interaction Hub’s lifetime event-based approach, the solution will also help Folksam to better understand and react to lifetime customer value, Magnehed relates. “When we need to do a down-sell to increase lifetime value, we will certainly do that,” he stresses.

Magnehed sees the Hub as a kind of traffic cop, making sure communications move in the right directions at the right time. The solution will do real-time segmentations to see whether customers fit a given campaign or, as in the case of a claim, whether the campaign should be put on hold. The Hub will also enable the company to present itself consistently across different Folksam brands. For example, a personal lines P&C customer could be routed to the right person to provide information on pension products. The Hub will also enable customers doing self-service at Folksam’s homepage to connect with the appropriate competence.

“Customers are increasingly demanding real-time interaction across channels,” Magnehed asserts.

Folksam’s choice of partnering with a vendor rather than simply building or buying a package was to be able to take advantage of development of new customer channel capabilities by other customers. “That’s why we wanted [Infor] to build it out as a commercial platform: so that we can also utilize what other companies do when they integrate new channels,” says Magnehed.

Folksam currently has three customer channels connected to its existing CRM system: telemarketing, inbound/call center and e-mail. The insurer plans to add its Web site and social media streams, according to Magnehed. “The first step toward our May 2013 launch is to swap out that platform,” he says.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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