Four key areas for developing a proposition for intermediated business

Does your business rely heavily on an intermediary as part of the overall customer journey?

If so, the process for developing a compelling proposition is more complex than simply developing it for the end customer. You are faced with the challenge of developing a proposition that makes it attractive to the end customer who is paying for your product and services. But at the same time, you are reliant on your intermediary partners to sell that proposition on your behalf as they are a key decision maker when recommending you – and in some cases the only decision maker as the end customer trusts them completely to come up with the right solution for them. So what do you need to include in your intermediary proposition to ensure they get what they want and need from you?

In this article, we are not going to go through every stage of a proposition development process but focus on four key areas that you need to consider when developing a compelling proposition that can be jointly delivered by your business and your brokers.

One proposition or two?

Firstly, be clear on what you need to develop and deliver. A proposition that meets the needs of your end customers at a price they are willing to pay is paramount. To support this, it is also critical that you fully understand the role of the broker in this proposition as in effect, you will always be outsourcing key parts of the customer journey to them, so what do you need to design to ensure your brokers can do this efficiently and effectively? This joined up thinking will design your joined up proposition. In addition to the joint customer/broker proposition, you also need to understand the wider needs of your broker partners and ensure you deliver them a proposition that makes them want to do business with you and recommend you to their clients. Often, ownership for the creation of intermediary propositions and customer propositions reside in different teams and then misalignment and conflict can often occur.

Balancing customer needs with value

Where to start? Are you looking to launch a new proposition to take advantage of a market opportunity your wider research has highlighted? Or are you looking to revamp an existing proposition to better reflect what the market is looking for? Either way, the starting point should always come from looking at the needs of the customer and the broker. What does the customer need to meet their requirements? What does the broker want from you to make them comfortable in recommending you? Many of these aspects will be the same, but there will be additional elements which the broker will be looking for.

But it can’t just be about their needs. You have to be confident that you can design and deliver to these customers at a price they will pay, and that ultimately brings value to you as a business. Balancing customer needs with the value that they bring to you as a business is at the heart of what good customer management is all about. You should never lose sight of this when you are designing your proposition. This may sound obvious, but numerous great propositions have delivered no value to the company. (This excludes deliberate loss leading initiatives to support a wider proposition.)

The customer journey

Understanding and “managing” broker and customer cross-channel journeys sits at the heart of Customer Experience theory, and numerous approaches have been taken to map out the current and desired experience. This is not straightforward in intermediated business because of the inherent tripartite relationship and the fact that the broker and end-customer journeys are very different. The end-customer journey is B2C in essence with broker and provider interactions triggered by all three parties. The intermediary journey is based on multi-layered long-term B2B relationships where trust, service, mutual value, and speed/ease of multiple interactions are paramount.

Many companies concentrate their journey mapping efforts on “getting the processes right” or from the “inside out” (i.e. starting with your desired outcomes).  Beware! These approaches can result in brokers and customer feeling “processed” (i.e. ignoring how they felt about the experience) or one-way “what we’ll do to you” interactions rather than engendering genuine engagement and dialogue.

Sophisticated companies design ‘blueprint experiences” for key end-customer and broker journeys. These are based on physical and emotional needs and wants, and extend beyond your internal processes.

You need to develop an approach and methodology to quickly and efficiently make progress in customer journey mapping by focusing in on the real ‘Moments of Truth’ that will make a difference to your customers and brokers.

Your capabilities

So often overlooked by B2B organisations and yet in the complex world of insurance, your proposition is only as good as your capability to deliver it. Before we think of people capabilities, have you got the right systems, processes and platforms in place? E.g. do you have robust data and tools to analyse your data to allow you to price accurately? Have your underwriters got systems that support them in making the right decisions? Can you provide the appropriate policy wordings that accurately reflect what the customer is insuring and can be easily understood by customers, brokers and your claims staff if a claim needs to be made against the policy? For higher volume classes of business, can your systems interface easily with the broker to make the process of doing business easy and efficient for them?

The capability of your people to support your proposition is paramount. Do you have underwriters and sales people who can work together with both being capable of understanding your customers and their needs? For more complex business, do your underwriters have the skills they need to evaluate and underwrite more complex risks? And do you have the appropriate Risk Engineering capability to both identify the risks but also to work with customers to improve risk? Do you have expertise in your claims teams to deliver a service proposition that reflects what the customer expects? And as a final example, and of real importance, do you have the right account management skills to support your brokers and customers throughout their journey with you. We have written several papers looking at the account management capabilities you need to be successful in this sector – all available on our website.

Developing propositions in the intermediated insurance market is a challenge but also a great opportunity for those who can get it right. At Customer Attuned, we combine expertise in B2B customer management with an in-depth understanding of financial services. We work with clients who face the challenges outlined above and have developed solutions and training programmes to support them.

If you would like to know more please contact:
Alan Thompson; Head of Financial Services:
Mark Hollyoake; Head of Customer Attuned Assessment (CAA) ©