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Building the customer relationship through innovation

12 December 2016

As ranges continue to expand, tech innovation is more central than ever to company strategies focused on engaging in personalized customer relationships. So how do companies get to grips effectively with the new technologies they need to adapt to customers and their new consumer habits and preferences?

Cardif Lab’ Manager Edouard Thurotte gives us his perspective on the innovations that help companies to respond effectively to these challenges.

You have a privileged position as an observer of new technologies. So how are companies actually using them to improve customer service? How do you see the new company/customer relationship?

 

These new technologies are driving a paradigm shift in relationships as companies seek to respond effectively to the expectations of their customers. Acting in the customer's best interest is still a major concern for companies, and my view is that it now revolves around two key issues: adaptation and transparency.

 

We can see this clearly in two new trends:

The first is 3D printing, which makes it possible to produce components on demand for customers, as one consumer appliance manufacturer in France is already doing by introducing a website that enables the design of spare parts for household appliances. This offer never existed before, and if a component broke or became lost, the consumer had to buy a new machine. Developments like this are not driven by short-term profitability, but by the need to create a relationship in which service creates a preference for a particular brand.

This sharing of models and the opportunity to replace a single component instead of the entire machine also highlight the will of companies to be more transparent about their expertise.

 

My second example is the recent spate of innovations around bot messaging, which has been used in an interesting way by an American insurer, for example. The idea itself is simple: using a chatbot to offer an insurance policy. Having downloaded the app, the user chats with a robot via a chat window and is asked a series of questions about the property to be insured (address, floor, etc.). The user can then take out a home insurance policy directly via the app. The advisory element is still there, because the bot can adapt the selection of insurance products offered in response to the answers it receives. But this approach automates the entire application phase in an interesting way. The company can then get straight to the point to obtain the key information about its future customer.

 

Lastly, and sticking with the theme of personalization, we've been interested for some time in beacons, especially in the world of retail.

Let's imagine someone walking through a shopping mall: depending on his or her consumer habits and location in the shopping center, retailers have the opportunity to send a personalized push message flagging up a discount in a nearby store, for example. This geolocation opportunity also allows retailers to send tailored special offers to a much more highly segmented customer base than was traditionally the case.

On a collective and anonymous basis, the same technology provides an understanding of the physical movement of customers through the store and the ability to measure the time they spend in different parts of it as the basis for improving the customer experience. Beacons are already a reality in many shopping centers, and have been used by a French superstore retailer since 2015.

Using this technology, we have designed a mobile app for visitors to Cardif Lab', which displays only content relative to the innovation you are standing next to. So if you're looking at a robot display, you receive only information about that subject, as well as a list of other robotics-linked innovations on display in the Lab'.

 

The common thread running through all three of these innovations is the smartphone in its dual role as a geolocation and communication device. In today's world, it is the universal go-to device for consumers. So it is from these different angles and thanks to the smartphone that companies can now understand and learn from what consumers actually do, and therefore act more effectively in the best interests of their customers.

 

How have these innovations inspired the world of insurance? Have insurance products and services been designed directly as a result of these technologies?  

 

We are monitoring these developments very closely, because BNP Paribas Cardif has partnerships with a number of very large retailers, and these new technologies also advance what we do as insurers.

Here's a practical example for you: let's take the case of consumer who buys a TV in a retail store. The innovation here is the ability to detect that the customer is in this part of the store and the opportunity to simultaneously offer him or her an extended warranty on their new TV via their smartphone.

 

All these innovations mean that we have to be vigilant at all times, especially in terms of how data are used. It's essential to be transparent about the extent of data gathering and the methods we use to secure customer acceptance. In practical terms, every individual must now be informed that a data processing system is in place, and have the freedom to decide whether or not to share their data at any time. In any event, data gathering always has a precise purpose: for those customers who agree to share their data, it means the opportunity to receive only relevant offers tailored to their preferences and profile.

In retailing, data gathering is restricted to the in-store world to help retailers understand the physical customer journey as the basis for delivering more personalized experiences. It is this individualized use of data that allows us to develop our offers in the best interests of customers, as in the case of the TV buyer who can be offered an extended warranty.

 

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