Client: Clerical Medical
Agency: Intrepid Consultants
Agency: NOP World
WINNER Clerical Medical relies on independent financial advisers (IFAs) to sell its pensions and savings products. The success of the business depends on its relationships with these intermediaries, and the company recognised the need to improve these relations, as opposed to concentrating solely on its products.
It allocated £50,000 to research to discover the best means of developing and sustaining relations with IFAs. This established a clear link between the profitability of the business and the quality of the intermediary relationships.
The research involved five phases: definition of the kind of relationship that would drive profitability; extended consultations with intermediaries; analysis of intermediary case studies; 'theme days', during which Clerical Medical staff worked alongside IFAs; and a quantitative assessment of the elements driving effective relationships.
The results showed a clear link between the perception of how the brand was performing among IFAs and the bottom line, creating a business case for reassigning resources to improve the intermediary experience. Workshops and presentations involving the sales, customer service and marketing teams ensured this view was shared across the business, and senior managers used the research to explain the plans for the coming year at the annual staff conference.
The findings were also used in a gap analysis of performance to identify what action was required in both the short- and long-term and to determine the necessary budget allocation.
In addition, the research was used to help frame the brand's communications, to ensure its messages to intermediaries were produced in a language they understood.
The success of the project led Clerical Medical to use the research as one of its key pieces of market feedback - the first time research has had such a high profile in the business.
It will now repeat the research every six months.
HBOS had developed an attitudinal segmentation model to differentiate consumers according to their interest in, and confidence in dealing with, financial services. The bank hired NOP World to assess the validity of this model. It wanted to be able to design, communicate and deliver products and services in a way that different customers felt met their needs, to increase affinity and satisfaction.
The research found the HBOS model was largely accurate. But it discovered consumer attitudes were not fixed - they were susceptible to change based on several factors, such as their age.
The findings helped the bank refine its products and services through an increased knowledge of customer behaviour.