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Putting our customer experience to the test

UK, Netherlands, September 22, 2015

Understanding financial issues is never going to be easy. But at Aegon, we like to think we’re making our products simpler and explanations clearer. We don’t, however, just rely on our intuition.

Aegon Customer Experience Center in the Netherlands

To improve customer understanding, Aegon in the UK uses what's known as the Hub. It isn't rocket science – essentially, it's a set of seven recycled plasma screens. But through these screens, every employee has instant access to feedback and opinions from over 1,700 customers, 1,300 potential customers and 50 financial advisors throughout the UK. And just a few months ago, an employee panel was also established.

Live interaction with customers

When developing a product, writing an explanation or improving a service, colleagues go to the Hub to consult the panel through live chat sessions, polls, surveys or smart boards. When they're not interacting live, the Hub displays the latest customer feedback and Net Promoter Scores (NPS), which tracks how likely customers are to recommend an Aegon product.

"We carried out research that led us to create a customer promise of three words: simple, reassuring and rewarding," says Matt Ward, Head of Customer Office, Aegon UK. "We use the Hub to bring this promise to life for everyone here, making sure that everything we build is aligned with these values."

Taking immediate action based on feedback

Launched last summer, the Hub has already transformed Aegon from simply analyzing NPS scores several times a year, to using real-time customer feedback to guide their decisions. "We used to get 900 responses every quarter from our NPS survey, gauging overall customer satisfaction, but that didn't guide our everyday decisions or translate into practical action, like assessing the value of a service or the usability of a website," says Matt.

It can be a confronting experience for our colleagues to receive such direct and immediate feedback, but the Hub allows us to focus on our customers' needs.

 

The Hub offers real-time interaction and 24/7 feedback. "It means a lot to any customer to be truly heard, and it also makes our work more meaningful because we have a closer interaction with them and can better serve their needs," he says.

Live customer sessions

For example, Aegon UK recently hosted two live customer sessions where the marketing team asked the panel what they liked and disliked about Aegon's latest 0% Charge ISA, the UK's individual savings account scheme. "We asked them how clear they found the information contained in the materials we sent out," says Matt. "It can be a confronting experience for our colleagues to receive such direct and immediate feedback, but the Hub allows us to focus on our customers' needs."

The Hub is not a gimmicky marketing trend, stresses Matt. It's a cultural shift that deeply affects the business, and it holds potential to get even closer to our customers. "We're dealing with some regulatory changes here in the UK, but in the future we'll work exclusively from our customer feedback. Everything we do should be based wholly on what we learn from our customers."

The future has already arrived

The future may have already arrived. UK employees automatically ask each other if the Customer Panel has been consulted before a new initiative is launched. No amount of money is spent before the customer's feedback is fully considered. "Once everything we do starts with the needs of our customers, we'll know that we've gone from being a pension provider to being a truly customer centric organization."
Similar approaches – using customer panels and user experience testing - are also implemented by Aegon in other markets.

Aegon uses eye tracking technology to identify how customers scan a webpage

Customer Experience Center

This year, Aegon opened innovative new Customer Experience Centers or 'cXcenter' for short, in both the Netherlands and the UK. The centers use state-of-the-art observation technology, such as eye tracking, to identify where people look for specific information on, for example, a website. The results help us evaluate the accessibility and user-friendliness of our services, such as websites and apps.

Customer Experience Centers enable Aegon to check the accessibility and user-friendliness of our services, such as websites and apps.

 

The cXcenter simulates a living room, to ensure that customers feel at home during in-depth customer interviews and client panels. One of the first usability tests carried out in the center, was for a home insurance product. A client panel was tracked via the one-way mirror and webcams. "Stimulating a conversation between a group of customers often leads to great discussions, full of excellent feedback which we can use to improve the product or service," explains Wendy Klijn from Aegon's Customer Focus Team.

Plans are currently underway to ensure that these centers of expertise are used by other Aegon brands and markets, that don't currently have their own facilities.