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Podcast Transcript

Peter: Hello and welcome again this is Peter Applebaum, your host of the Corporate Digital Marketing Podcast and this Episode 6. Today it’s about social media, yes that subject that vexes so many organisations and their senior management.

Many organisations say that if we talk about social media and if we go on to social media, people are going to say nasty things about us and the world will end as we know it. So, we’re going to speak to a practitioner today who has a lot of experience in the financial services area, and I think you’ll agree that there are some very very interesting insights as to why we as corporate marketers should not panic. The world is not going to end as we know it, there are lots of opportunities with social media, none the least of which is that it gives us a great way to find out what your customers are thinking.

And that’s obviously something that’s fundamental to any type of marketing success. There are lots of ways you can look at social media What I love about the conversation you’re going to hear with Ben is that he looks at social media in a very positive way, not in an unrealistic way. He understands that there are challenges in a large corporate which is who he works for; more about that in a minute. But you can certainly take a lot out of social media and circulate it within the organisation, and while you have to be aware of the risks, there are benefits as well. So, let’s hear from Ben.

Peter: I’d like to welcome Ben Shute who’s the Manager of Social Media, Australia and New Zealand for QBE insurance. Ben welcome to the Corporate Digital Marketing Podcast.

Ben: Good to be here, thanks Peter.

Peter: Thank you, and just briefly tell me what was your background prior to joining QBE, what led you to this position?

Ben: So, my background has traditionally been media and advertising, I joined News Corp back in the early 2000s or late 90s I would say. And then from there moved into agency briefly then onto some strategy roles with NineMSN and Yahoo and working with the strategic teams there in the advertising departments around leveraging digital and what at then was considered social. From there moved into working with CommSec which was the first true pure social role that I worked with and that was to launch their social program around the investing markets and such, and then now to QBE. So, leading the social charge here for general insurance, but also the intermediate business and FI space so kind of across the board.

Peter: FI?

Ben: Financial institution.

Peter: Okay, so I guess you’ve had the advantage of having been if you will on both sides of the barbed wire fence, having worked for the platforms as well as for the clients as such. What are the sorts of challenges and I know you we will explore that further during the conversation, but what are the challenges that you can see and opportunities for both?

Ben: You know platforms themselves and portals I think are experiencing a bit of a downward trend and we kind of see that Facebook is the new portal. So, this is where people get their news, news is curated and often curated not in a positive way either, you know things like the filter bubble and things like that you kind of see why.

Peter: Fake news.

Ben: Fake news. You see the things that Facebook wants you to see, but also that your friends want you to see. So, that’s a real challenge there for platforms themselves. For businesses, though the challenge always has been and will continue to be that engagement piece, how do you cut through all of that in a meaningful way, how do you reach people in a meaningful way. But then how do you listen to what they’re telling you and turn that around into a positive business impact.

I think a lot of businesses kind of understand how to listen, but then what do you do with that information. And companies, particularly legacy companies with a lot of legacy systems, very old companies, they struggle the most with it I think, and that’s the real challenge for them. But the opportunity on the flip side is immense, if you get it right you start to create products and services that customers want, you start to create better practices as far as customer service goes, and you start to deliver something that is truly an engaging brand.

Peter: Well, I guess the keyword you mentioned there I think is legacy. So, if you’re dealing with an organisation such as QBE Insurance which has been around longer than the Internet has been in existence you’re dealing with older established systems and processes. Even people that are not used to the premise of having to engage as directly with customers as you do now via social media and other digital platforms. That’s obviously is one of the challenges that you probably face internally, would that be correct?

Ben: Yeah, absolutely look we’re very much wanting to put the customers at the centre of everything we do as many businesses are, because without customers you are nothing essentially. So, social is probably the most customer-centric platform that we have and very much the coalface in terms of customer feedback and sentiment. So for us, it’s an incredibly important channel, it is the one that and I wouldn’t say its bias from me in terms of other channels that are important. But I like to think that we are the true voice of customer when we talk about voice of customer in all its unfiltered and unstructured glory and that’s where you get the richest insights.

Peter: Right, and did it take the organisation much time or is it taking the organisation much time to get used to that unfiltered customer feedback?

Ben: No, I don’t think so, and there are processes in place for preferred customers to feedback in any business, well there should be, and really I think the hardest thing for any company to get used to with social is the openness of it, it’s out there, and it’s public, and it’s very much around. And people use it as a platform to escalate things to get a result, and that’s understandable because it’s a tool and companies have a responsibility to really be serving their customers well. And so if you do it well though then that feedback is also public as well, so you take the good with the bad. But it obviously helps you to improve the processes and make sure that you’re seen to be and actually resolving customer issues because that engenders trust an incredible amount into customer’s minds.

Peter: So, are there metrics associated beyond likes or posts or those types of things beyond that the organisation uses and your feedback to the organisation and say, okay well we can see that it’s making a difference?

Ben: Yeah, absolutely you know there are likes and posts and things like that are fine, and they’re a nice engagement metric, but they really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. For us the core of what we do and the core I think of what anybody does as far as a social strategy goes is service. And so for me the important metrics are around there’s sentiment obviously, and sentiment’s a hard one to measure without human interaction or involvement in that process because sentiment’s, particularly here in Australia, is a very specific you know there’ll be words you look for or phrasing you look for that can mean one thing but say another.

But, so we look at things like sentiment, we look at things like and we breakdown the incoming messages into all sorts of categories we talked about product departments, it talks about claims departments, it talks to various parts of the organisation, and we look at the things that matter in there. So, you know numbers of people it might be complaints, the number of people escalating issues, are there any particular products that we can see are causing issues or have challenges around them or most feedback. And we break that down, and we take that to the teams every week kind of say here’s certainly in real-time to resolve issues, but then every week we kind of report back and say here are some of the things that we need to know this week.

Peter: So, the collective insights are gathered and do you feel to your satisfaction I know you’re part of a big organisation but do you feel these insights, the collective insights you’re getting from consumers are acted upon, and the service is improved as a result?

Ben: Yes I do, and I think it’s really important to note too that in any organisation you shouldn’t look at social in isolation in data, you have to take it along with the other forms of feedback that you get. So, if you have a customer if you ask for an NPS survey at the end of interaction to measure your NPS if you’re taking things from a complaints team whatever it might be, and then put all that together to give you a really complete picture. Because what we’re seeing in one channel may not necessarily be the same on another channel, and if we kind of put it all together and balance it out the issues that we see as kind of the priorities may be very different to what they are in a single channel. And I think the other thing too is to understand where on this continuing customer journey social can sit; there’s obviously some pre-purchase pieces as well that are important where there’s a lot of questions around well if I buy this what do I get. There’s post-sales, I’m going overseas am I covered for this, and then right through to the claims part and generally what we see is we see most of our questions around claims. And that’s a very specific thing to each person because it means something different to each person.

Peter: An emotional thing.

Ben: An emotional thing, absolutely, and that kind of spectrum of emotion is very broad because you could have, I’ve lost my sunglasses that’s very easy, but my home has been destroyed by a cyclone they’re kind of two very opposite ends of the spectrum. But how you deal with that person is exactly the same because they’ve lost something, but the important thing is how quickly can we resolve that for you and how quickly can we get you resolved to your satisfaction. And that’s really the most important metric for me is how many of these are we actually resolving, there are always going to be queries you can never resolve. But a lot queries we measure on how have we resolved it, how fast have we resolved it and is the customer satisfied.

Peter: So, since you’ve joined the organisation how long ago was that?

Ben: About 18 months.

Peter: 18 months. So, have you seen marked improvements in those measures that you’ve just mentioned since you’ve joined?

Ben: Yeah, we’ve seen improvements absolutely and there’s always going to be things that are turning the tide on some processes can be harder than others and turning the tide on some things can be hard. But we’ve certainly seen improvements, and we notice that in some particular areas that we’ve kind of called at where there’s some things that are easy win fixes, they’ve been the very, they’re often the ones if it’s an easy fix, but it has the biggest impact. So, we’ve certainly seen that those take place along the way. So, we can see that it’s making a change.

Peter: Well, that’s all you can ask for really. Something that a lot of marketers particularly when their organisations are new to social media, digital marketing struggle with is what platform should I use. Now obviously you’ve gone through that decision-making process, how did you do that, obviously Facebook would be the number-one for you?

Ben: Yeah, Facebook’s the biggest for us, you’ve got to look at your audience really, and so we’re a very broad business we have a direct to consumer proposition we’ve got an intermediated one. We also have an EFI piece which is the kind of corporate partners and financial institutions. So, talking to those audiences is very different across the board, but by far and away you find that most people use channels like Facebook and to a smaller percentage Twitter as a channel to engage you and ask questions and things like that. And so we’ve looked at those that have a, there’s both a public aspect to them where we can kind of publish content that answers questions off the bat, or a private messaging function where they can engage us as I said before some of those more personal pieces as well. Not everyone wants to put their claim out there on Facebook to say, hey this has happened. But they obviously want to resolve it, so we give them that channel through there. So, that’s at QBE, if I look at what we did at CommSec for us it was more around pushing information out in very much real-time and so we used something like Twitter, because at that point there was no effect by any sort of algorithm or anything it was as real-time, it was pumped out and all that sort of stuff.

So, whereas Facebook again with an algorithm you could see information that was two days old and then completely useless. So, that’s kind of how we evaluated the platforms, but obviously, it’s kind of Facebook is mass reach and it allows us to build some very targeted audiences as far as content goes. So, as well as a broad customer base we have a very broad product set as well, and so the information that we give you of our travel product may not be relevant if you only hold a motor policy. So, how do we divide those audiences up, and then it’s about ongoing audience optimisation as well. So, you want the platforms that have I would say the richest targeting opportunities possible to make sure that you’re hitting the right audience every single time.

Peter: And you mentioned when we spoke previously the fact that obviously, QBE is a large organisation and social media is just one part of the digital not to mention overall marketing puzzle. How and where does social fit into the digital matrix if you will?

Ben: You know we do a lot as far as the digital marketing it’s a very key channel, it’s big we do a lot of acquisition work through there as well. There’s a lot of brand advertising that goes through there. And if you look at our marketing mix digital and social I would say makes up more than half at least, it is absolutely a key channel for us because again it’s that audience piece. And the retargeting opportunities as well, so you can capture people as they come into the site and have shown interest in their product and then you can reach out to them with more specific messaging and so that’s what we see as a really valuable piece there. But again then if we look at things that we do from a content promotion perspective as well we know if you engage with a piece of content around travel or car or whatever it might be there’s kind of this propensity that we can tackle as well. So, that is where I see the real value in it for us, and we’re trying to now look at then how do we extend as a customer acquisition tool from a content perspective as well.

Peter: And I guess it also comes back to privacy and permission and those types of things, we’ve talked about this a fair bit in the previous podcast with regards to retargeting, it’s obviously great from a technical point of view, but you need to ensure that the customers or potential customers are comfortable with it.

Ben: Absolutely and I think that most people kind of understand now that there’s an expectation that companies are using Facebook for marketing and things like retargeting. If you haven’t noticed that you’ve been hit with another ad from a company whose website you’ve just visited then chances are it’s not being done well. But there is obviously things around reach, and the frequency is probably the most important one, if they haven’t shown interest after a few times then you have got to take that into account, and they should probably be a customer that’s not going to engage with you again. So, you really have to do it in a smart way I think to probably make it less creepy.

Peter: Less creepy, so just a little bit creepy.

Ben: Well, it’s not so much a little bit creepy, it goes over the point being fine to kind of creepy.

Peter: Or ideally non-creepy.

Ben: Non-creepy.

Peter: We’re going for non-creepy which is good, it’s always a good thing in all aspects of life. So, speaking about non-creepy obviously you’d be doing cyberstalking of your competitors and obviously you’re up against some equally larger organisations to yourselves. What impact do you benchmark what they’re doing, do you keep an eye on what they’re doing and obviously there’s commercial in confidence questions here, but what you can publicly divulge. What do you see your competitors doing what impact does that have on your decision-making?

Ben: Any company who’s on social worth their salt will be monitoring their competitors that’s a given, so we keep an eye on them from a few perspectives. It’s not that they necessarily inform the directions that we’re taking because obviously we have our own marketing objectives around the things that we want to do, but it certainly gives us an idea around what are things that work well from an engagement perspective I suppose. So, we’ll always look at their audience numbers, we’ll always look at their posts, but most importantly we’ll look at their customer service piece as well and kind of understand how they’re serving their customers. And for us being a customer-centric organisation that’s the most important thing, it’s just like how are we serving our customers, how does that compare to our competitors serving their customers. And really the customer experience is going to be the key differentiator I think the number I saw is by 2020 it will be more important than price. And so that’s the battleground for competition, so how well are we actually servicing our customers versus how well are our competitors doing it.

Peter: That’s a pretty bold prediction.

Ben: Not mine but it is a bold prediction.

Peter: So, in three years customer experience is going to be more important than price. I always say that in the absence of anything else consumers customers are always going to choose price. So, I think that gets to the essence of the opportunity, the massive opportunity with social and digital and that is to create that human relationship and one-on-one relationship and then to invest that with greater value than your competitor. And I think that gets the essence of what we’re talking about you’re are obviously very aware of that.

Ben: Yeah, you definitely want to be creating something that a customer wants. I think for too many years companies have created products that are good for the bottom line but don’t work for a customer. So, social is as we were talking about before is the richest vein of customer feedback around the things they do and don’t like, and those should be the insights that are shaping the product and product development, but then also the way that you support that product more importantly. I’ve always said that you can’t have a great product until you have great support for it otherwise it’s just a product. And so that is the thing that you should be focused on and using those insights to make sure that what you’re creating is going to hit the money, is going to be on the money for the customer.

Peter: And we talked about benchmarking your competitors, what are some organisations be it in the insurance industry or in other industries from either here in Australia or around the world that you think are doing it so bang on correct that you can?

Ben: So, insurance wise we see some great work from there are some local competitors who do it well in different insurance categories, but overseas people like State Farm do a really good job of content.

Peter: Social and digital?

Ben: Social and digital yeah absolutely. I think for me where I find the most inspirational stuff is outside of insurance as well. You look at some of the companies that are doing very well and not necessarily in things like FMCG, while they’re great aspirational pieces of content, I like to look at the regulated industries farmer, banking and finance basically.

Peter: The hard stuff.

Ben: Yeah, the hard stuff because what you’ve got wrapped around anything that you do is this layer of regulation. So, you need to make sure that the work that you’re doing doesn’t fall over into that kind of advice piece obviously and doesn’t breach any of that regulation. But you can still make really interesting and typically dry categories I would say as well and how do you make that fun and interesting, you don’t typically put fun together with insurance, but it can be.

Peter: I always say to clients where is the passion point, what is the passion point in your product and service, and they’ll say I sell insurance I sell ball bearings there is no passion point. Well, that’s not true as you know it’s like what do these people use it for, what is their emotional engagement, the fact that they have insurance it’s the old classic insurance salesman’s thing it’s like your family have security if something happens to you, and that’s absolutely valid. And that’s again a way of investing your offering with value that it might not otherwise have, otherwise it’s just insurance, or it’s just a boring product, and that’s marketing, that’s fundamental marketing.

Ben: Absolutely and insurance, in particular, is one of those things that you buy a policy and then you don’t even think about it until its either time for renewal or it’s time for a claim. So, there’s this kind of wide gap of at least a year between renewals or claims or even earlier, but there’s a gap. And what do we put in that gap to make us interesting and to make you feel like you’ve made the right decision, because the time that you need us is the time that you want to claim something. So, we want to make sure that when it comes time for you to claim you have the best experience possible. But along the way we want to offer you information and guidance around how you can minimise the risk of ever needing to claim, but when you do claim, we want to make sure that we are there and we are good at the job.

Peter: Because word spreads via social in particular.

Ben: Word spreads via social, so for us, it’s around the what the work that we do from a content perspective kind of fills that gap, but then if we work from a service perspective we do kind of fills that last piece there around claim and that’s our breadth of what we do.

Peter: And I think a lot of insurance companies don’t get that or if they do get that they’re working their way towards that outcome using that expression you get on our school reports. I for example just changed my health insurance after being with the same organisation for 20 years and I guess one of the big things that insurance companies rely on is apathy. Like you’ve got your insurance and it’s like I just pay the premiums every month or every quarter or every year whenever and it just unless I need it I don’t really focus on it. So, it comes back I think to the shopping list, if you’ve got a shopping list of benefits that are meaningful to your customers that’s where it helps, and as I say part of that is that customer experience which you were talking about before.

So, we talked a little bit about customer feedback in the past and obviously when it comes to such things as cyclones as Queensland in particular has experienced over the last few months since we’ve spoken and tragedies like that that’s where probably the pressure is not just on you, but is on the entire insurance industry. So, how do you think, how do you manage that customer feedback particularly where emotion and tempers are frayed, and people are in a heightened state of really I need someone and something right now?

Ben: Those times in particularly and it’s not just the catastrophe but obviously more so during the catastrophe. As you said there’s a heightened state of emotion, it’s all about people’s lives getting back to normal, and so the absolute most important thing that you can have in any kind of service aspect is empathy, and that needs to be first and foremost around the experience. Even if you as a business or an organisation have done nothing wrong during the process, you have to identify and feel with that customer, and it is hard not to. Because really when you think about it we are all customers of something, and we’ve all had a similar experience. And so you need to absolutely empathise with the customer and then try and work out and oftentimes there is a little bit of work to do to get to the actual root of what the problem is and so there’s a persistence element in there as well. It may take three or four goes and interactions with the customer to get to of all these things that are an issue what’s the absolute core thing that we can fix right now that will make the biggest difference. And then it’s just a matter of actually having a support structure in place for the service or social service operation to make sure you can get a resolution on that. So, you need to have key contacts through the business, you need to have escalation points for when you need to move something up very quickly, and you need have SLAs in place around how fast you’re actually going to get back to a customer as well. So, the expectations of response times and things like that have dramatically increased or decreased, they expect a response in less time let’s put it that way, around how fast they want a business to get back to them. In some cases, their expectation is I want something within the next 15 minutes.

Peter: Do you find that varies according to the platform, for example, I think Twitter which is what you mentioned before with CommSec you would think that someone should be at the other end and should answer almost instantly?

Ben: It’s interesting it differs per person, it’s not a per a platform thing, because I think we’ve seen both but it differs per person. And I’ve got this view around SLAs are great, but we as a business are the people who set those SLAs based on what we think is a best practice and what the customer level of tolerance is. And I think SLAs is something you should constantly be reviewing because really from a customer’s end it’s a service level expectation. And the more interaction they have with different businesses particularly those that are digital and social very much at their core is that what they have is their expectation of the service that they should be getting has dramatically increased. They’ve got much higher expectations, and those expectations are changing all the time.

So, for any business, the most important thing is to set a SLA, monitor against that and understand obviously strive to achieve it, but then monitor and see well from what customers are telling us is the time that we’re using to respond is that acceptable to customers or not. And then under that review then work out is it a resourcing issue, is it a platform issue, is it a technology issue and what is it that we can do to make that better. And that is what anybody getting back to somebody in a very timely fashion particularly in insurance is probably the most important thing for us, and then obviously resolving that issue to the customer satisfaction, equally important I would say.

Peter: And look we know that social media gets a lot of people who are complaining and that just comes with the territory. Do you find many people when you, because I know you bring a lot of heart to your job and a lot of commitment which is wonderful, do you find that many people who have had their issues resolved actually go back onto Facebook and say, wow QBE well-done thank you so much?

Ben: Yeah, look some of them will, and it will usually be kind of on the tail end of a conversation that we’ve had with them. So, other people will come back and praise, and you will always get a much smaller percentage of praise than you do complaints it’s the nature of the platform. But we do find that when we can get it right, we do see that, and yeah we make sure that that feedback thing then gets circulated to whoever it was that actually resolved the claim. And we also make sure that gets called out in reporting to the wider business as well because that’s really I think that we as a team when we report on all the things that we’re hearing from customer feedback it’s very easy to get bogged down in the complaints part of it and the negative.

Peter: Squeaky wheel type thing.

Ben: Absolutely, but it’s really important to call out the positive as well to kind of say, you know what it’s not all bad there is a lot of green shoots here that we can actually capitalise on. But it’s important to know that we are doing a good job as well because that obviously helps keep the morale of people who are doing it day in day out.

Peter: And to that point, you talked about escalating possible complaints but do you escalate those positive comments and the feedback from a recognition point of view?

Ben: It’s not just to the person who achieved the outcome it’s to their managers as well to make sure that that’s been noted, and we call it out again in the report that goes to the wider business so everyone kind of sees it.

Peter: Okay changing tack a little bit obviously you’re in sponsorships being a large organisation, the Sydney Swans the AFL team here in Sydney. Does that help to fuel positive social media comments for you and if so how do you leverage that?

Ben: Yeah, for us a lot of the activations that we’ve done to date around sponsorships are mostly competition lead obviously. And I think that they work really well from a positive perspective because there’s obviously very engaged fan base in those things as well and they can be a part of something, the opportunity to win tickets to a box or meet the team and things like that, so they’re great. But we do see that they tend to be the things that engage people the most, to be honest, and we’re quite heavy on the sponsorship stuff that we do. It seems to be a lot of ball sports there’s obviously the Swans, there’s the Perth Glory as well, there’s the Roosters there is and the Swifts as well so netball, and there’s things like the zoo as well which everybody loves the zoo. Opera Australia some other things there, and then we’ve also got a charity aspect as well, so with the kidney foundation that we do a lot of work around and so there is a community piece there of giving back and that also then generates a lot of positive sentiment which is great.

Peter: I worked on the Sydney Olympics on the website and dealt with sponsors a lot, and I always felt that they left so many opportunities and quite frankly money on the table because they didn’t leverage their sponsorships well enough or hard enough. Do you feel that obviously you have got competitions, and you get engagement there, and that’s great, but do you feel that through that investment that the overall organisation makes in the sponsorships, it can be leveraged in other ways and can achieve results?

Ben: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of different ways to do it and a lot of different ways to cut and dice it, and I think that there’s always an opportunity for greater activation of sponsorships. A lot of stuff that we do with it is around those competitions for punters for tickets and things like that and boxes, but there’s also an aspect of brokers as well and how do we use the sponsorships to engage our brokers. So, I think it’s different per sport as well, and it just depends on the access, and there’s a lot of other things to think about there’s other sponsors and what rights do they have as well. But really for us, the important thing is making sure that we can use assets from a social perspective as well because that’s where we’re going to see the highest engagement.

Peter: And this is getting a bit beyond social but do you have arrangements with those sporting organisations where you can cross promote QBE products and services or is it more passive than that?

Ben: Again it all depends on the sponsorships, and those are things that will be negotiated.

Peter: So, in five years’ time where do you see QBE’s social media program? I know five years is a long time, six months is a long time because we just don’t know where we’ll be. In your crystal ball your ideal scenario and we’re going to talk about the broader industry in a minute, but from a QBE point of view specifically, you’ve seen how far the organisation has come in 18 months since you’ve been here. Five years’ time where we are we going to be 2022?

Ben: 2022 look service will still be the core, service should be the core for anyone, and since day dot these are the platforms that customers have used to engage businesses from a service perspective that’s not going to change I don’t think. So, I still see service at the core, I see a much richer content experience.

Peter: What does that mean?

Ben: So, at the moment and I think not just us but a lot of businesses it’s a lot of posts it’s a lot of pictures it’s a lot of videos, but there will be more immersive experiences involved and how do we take people to the heart of something that we’re doing. How do we use video, in particular, is the big one, and video will be big I would say for us in the next 18 months to 2 years we’ll be doing more and more, we’re doing more of it now than we were 12 months ago. But I think there’s that piece there, and as far as from an organisational perspective I think that what I’m really trying to embed is social as this layer that goes across the entire business. So, what are the aspects of the social program that we can plug into every part of the business and then use that to enrich either from a data perspective, from a learnings perspective, from a product development perspective and from a service perspective, how do we plug all those pieces into the social thing. So, that’s a hard change to make because you’re trying to get buy-in across a business, we’re fortunate that we’ve got a buy-in across most of the business now, but really it should be an absolute integral part of the businesses thought of upfront in a lot of aspects of what happens.

Peter: And from a broad perspective where do you see digital marketing, not just for QBE but broadly where do you see it will be in 3 to 5 years’ time?

Ben: Sure look video is going to continue to grow.

Peter: What does that mean Ben because we go on YouTube and we have got 10 gazillion videos uploaded every minute?

Ben: I think what we are seeing now is a lot more use of video as I said before is that immersive experience as well. And so taking it from just a two or three minute video that you’ll see on YouTube or a 30 second clip and actually then creating through VR experiences how do we create more around that 360 video, how do we put somebody at the centre of something which is really cool. And we saw something the other week from one of the football clubs in the UK, did a very immersive VR experience there and.

Peter: So, putting the viewer in the middle of the action on the sporting field?

Ben: And so that’s kind of cool. But I think the really important thing to think about with any of these new things that comes along is, is it going to make a difference to the customer in the end. And so for me the most important thing is how we are going to evaluate every opportunity that comes along in the next few years. And digital marketing in general I think what you’ll see is a lot of things that will come up, they’ll be hot for about two or three months and they’ll just kind of disappear. But as I said I think video will continue to be huge, VR and AR are taking off as well so, but again it’s going to be how you create meaningful experiences just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Peter: Ah, one of my favourite expressions when it comes to digital.

Ben: And I think there needs to be a real, a very rational evaluation of all the opportunities that come along because there is a lot of rubbish out there.

Peter: We marketers as you know Ben we have this almost innate love of the shiny new things, and then the hardheads up on the next level up whatever the organisation are going to say bloody marketers there they are spending money on things that how’s it going to help us to get a result. And I dare say that pressure is never going to change, that tension.

Ben: No, and I think a lot of businesses push on being an early adopter of stuff and people wanting to be an early adopter. But the risk that you run with being an early adopter is to also be the person who tried it, and it didn’t work. And so for me I like to kind take a very rational view of the opportunities that come long and we look at how other people may have used them, not necessarily here but also overseas and in other industries and then go ultimately we’re not the consumers of content. But as a marketing team we will be, because we love everything we create.

Peter: Of course, it’s fabulous.

Ben: It is fabulous and it’s always great, but what have we learnt from the stuff we’ve done before and what we know about our customers. If we put this out what do we think their engagement will be or what we think their reaction will be, but more importantly what we want them to do with it. And I’ve seen in past trials before a lot of content has been created without that kind of end view, and we talk about being customer-centric, everything has to be customer-centric. It’s not just about being there when customers need you to be, it’s about creating things for them and things that you want them to engage with that’s going to make a difference to their lives, but then also have an outcome for them.

There’s feel-good brand pieces are great, and they certainly position companies as well, but if you’re giving customers something that’s important information what do you want them to do with it. Do you want them to, there’s an acquisition piece as well as and it’s just like do we want to fill out a form, we’ll get a quote or whatever it might be. But do we want somebody to take that, you know we did a lot of catastrophe preparation content just before Debbie hit, not even just before we’ve been working on it for a while knowing we were coming into that season. So, this is information that we wanted to make sure customers have, I don’t necessarily care that you’re a customer of ours, but I want to give you this information that will help you be prepared for that.

And so that for me is the most important thing because then there’s obviously that then makes people think of QBE next time. So, there’s the content marketing aspect of it and that for me is really important around making sure that we’re talking not just to customers but prospective customers and I think that everybody. And I think the other important thing is to realise that everyone’s a customer or potential or otherwise and what you want them to do with the piece of content that you put out.

Peter: Well, that’s the nature of being an insurance company I guess. So, final question Ben, we ask all of our guests this and what are your top three tips for corporate marketers who are looking to optimise their social media or digital marketing initiatives. Like where the organisation may have tried something, they may have tried something they may be down the track they may be at the beginning of the track. What are your top three tips for what they should do?

Ben: Listen first, listen first in my absolute core thing that I take everywhere with me and the core message I put into everything. But it’s listen first, the customers are the richest vein of information for any business, and you want them to be the people who are guiding. Talk to everyone is also the other thing, and when I say talk to everyone, talk to everyone internally, be very very open and free with the information that you’re willing to talk about.

Peter: Is that tip two or subset of tip one?

Ben: No, that’s tip two. So, listen first but make sure you share a lot internally.

Peter: So, two sets of listen basically.

Ben: Yeah, absolutely but make sure that you’re open to kind of sharing with the people as well, there are opportunities everywhere within a business. And the richest assets from a knowledge perspective as well about how the business works internally is the people within it who do day-to-day, and its knowledge they have inherently, but they don’t necessarily use it or think that it may be something that can be useful to a program. So, something that I love doing is I’ll talk to anyone who asks me a question about social, I will make myself available for any presentation for anybody who wants to actually know more about it. Right from a product team through to a claims team who want to kind of understand how they’re doing and deep dive into some issues and things like that so. But then also just ask people questions about what they do is the important thing too because there are people in pockets in any business and particularly one this large there are pockets of people in this business who have so much knowledge about particular topics.

And then the third one I would say is be very granular with the data and or the way that you analyse the data. So, kind of coming back to those first two pieces of insights I suppose, and they’re all kind of linked is my view is that there is no such thing as too much tagging. So, every social interaction that comes in with us there are a multitude of tags that go against them, and we’re always adding new tags as we see things come up. Because what that allows us to do get to the core of an issue. If we see a spike in wait times or whatever it might be, A, we can use that as an early warning system to go maybe we need to put more people on the phones, but also we can then interrogate how long were those wait times as well. And then it comes back to what is a customer expectation of a wait time. If I call up is 10 minutes okay to sit on hold, is it 15 minutes.

Peter: It’s never okay.

Ben: It’s never okay no, but it’s at what point, obviously we see a lot of people complaining about spending 10 minutes on the phone then obviously we know 10 minutes is too long we and then we work out what’s the root cause of that and go back to it.

Peter: Goes back to the granularity.

Ben: Absolutely and that granularity will help you identify those issues so breakdown as much as you can because those will be the things that will help you improve the business. It’s very easy to say, hey we’ve got a problem in car claims, but what are those problems.

Peter: And now what.

Ben: Yeah, and now what, and that helps you to get to the absolute core of it.

Peter: I always say with digital and marketing people or corporate executives all of us, we’re in the ‘now what?’ business, because just looking at things in isolation or it’s like we got a great number of likes or comments and those sorts of things, great now what. And that’s very important because the organisation is not just the one and done in the main we want to have a relationship with our customers, so that’s where the now what comes into it. Ben really have appreciated your openness and your insights because I think it’s really a lot of people look at large organisations such as utilities, insurance companies and financial service where they have these millions of customers in the main or however many you have, and just wondering how on earth do they do it. Well, I think the great advantage we have of anyone who’s listening to this podcast today is that we now have far greater clarity than we had 30 odd minutes ago because you have given us a lot of great insight. So, thank you very much for your time, and we will speak to you again soon.

Ben: Excellent thank you, Peter cheers.

Peter: Well I hope you had a lot of fun listening to what Ben had to say, he certainly is a very switched on guy when it comes to the digital marketing and how it sits not just in a corporate organisation but in the broader marketing context and I think they’re the other sorts of insights we’re looking for when listening to this podcast. So, thank you again for listening to the show notes will be available at tickyes.com/podcast and we will speak to you soon. Bye.