MassMutual Profits From Digital Investment

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The financial services provider redesigns its website to meet customers' modern needs.

The nineties were a prime decade for a lot of things—pop music, television, the Chicago Bulls—but it wasn't the best time for technology. Indeed, a lot has changed over the past 20 years. The floppy disks and VCRs are gone; computers are now more portable; and people can stream music instead of playing it on their Discman.

Yet, some marketers remain stuck in the past. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) decided to bring the website that it built in 1995 up to speed by creating a self-service, personalized digital experience that caters to customers' modern-day needs.

Spending time researching the customer

Cora Hall wanted to create a website that was user friendly, provided personalized products and content, and offered self-service capabilities to MassMutual's new and existing customers. So in 2013 the assistant VP of marketing started working with the operations and IT departments to redesign the financial services company's digital experience

“Continuous improvement is a big theme here at MassMutual,” she says. “This was one of the areas in the digital customer space where we knew that the space is evolving and customer expectations are evolving and, as such, so should our experience.”

The teams began by analyzing first- and third-party customer data to create personas for their new and existing customers and understand their comfort levels with technology. Not surprisingly, Hall says, existing customers had higher technology comfort levels because they had engaged with MassMutual online before. The comfort level for new customers, contrastingly, varied significantly. So, MassMutual had to create a website that was intuitive for all users.

Creating an experience that's anything but taxing

To make the site more user friendly, MassMutual's teams implemented responsive design technology with the help of digital agency Huge—a considerable feat given that the company's previous website had not been compatible for mobile.

As for the personalization piece, the teams enabled new and existing customers to receive individualized financial information and services through data. For instance, when a new customer visits the website, she can select her financial goal, whether it's planning for college, saving for retirement, or caring for a loved one with special needs. Once that's been established, the customer can view different products (e.g. insurance policies) and educational materials to help them meet those goals, such as savings calculators and breakdowns on 529 plans. In addition, the site allows users to search for local MassMutual financial professionals and look up their areas of expertise. It also features customer testimonials.

“Customers offer such a powerful endorsement for what we do,” Hall says. “Financial security can be an intangible concept for a lot of people. When they come to the site and they hear these stories, it brings to life what these products can do for a family.”

If a new user decides to open an account, they can then register online. That user must fill out a profile (complete with their name, email address, and password), confirm their identity, and answer a few security questions. If an existing customer is registering on the new site for the first time, then she just needs to answer the security questions.

Customers can also name their accounts to better reflect their savings goals, Hall adds, such as “Johnny's college fund” for a 529 plan.

“From a brand perspective, that reinforces the buying decision and it reminds the customer of why they bought in the first place,” she says.

Once the profile has been set up, customers can take advantage of MassMutual's new self-service features, such as the ability to make payment online, check account balances, and obtain tax forms. Hall says these services give customers another way to access and manage their finances when the call center is closed.

“We know that there are some customers [who] are more comfortable reaching out to our service center,” she says, “but we also know that there are customers migrating online and we need to be there for them. As a brand, this project and this initiative really showcased the investment that the brand is making around digital mind-sets and how we can engage with our customers on all different platforms.”

Banking on omnichannel

The goal of Hall and her teammates is to educate one million customers on the benefits of the website this year. To promote the site to both new and existing customers, Hall is relying on a variety of channels, including the call center, email, digital, direct mail, and social. Although MassMutual does segment its messages depending on customers' financial needs, Hall says that the communications surrounding the benefits of the website are more generic.

Leveraging a combination of print and online channels was important, she adds, to reach people with both high and low technology comfort levels.

In addition to the promotional communications, Hall says she spent time training employees on the new website 60 days prior to launch—such as through video demonstrations and on-site demos at conferences—to ensure that all agents and service employees could answer any questions customers would have.

Cashing in on good results

MassMutual officially launched its website on August 24. At the time of this writing, the company had obtained 20,000 customer registrants—a combination of new and existing customers.

Hall partially attributes the success of this redesign to the collaboration between marketing, IT, and operations.

“Personally, I've spent more time with operations and IT this year than I have with marketing,” she says. “From a professional standpoint, it's been a great cross-training initiative for all of us to learn what other teams do and to work so collaboratively on a shared goal.”

She also says that MassMutual did Voice of the Customer research and let user groups test out the site throughout the development process to ensure that it was meeting customers' needs.

And although working with legacy systems posed some challenges for Hall, she says working on the website redesign taught her the importance of planning initiatives and communication strategies early.

It looks like, for this financial services company, the digital diligence was worth the investment.


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