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Prudential’s Chief Customer Officer Naveen Agarwal says today’s corporate leaders must see every aspect of their business through the customer’s eyes.

By Naveen Agarwal

April 12, 2018

Twenty years ago, waiting a week for delivery of something you ordered seemed pretty reasonable and relatively quick. Consider how unreasonable that seems today. If you have to pay for shipping or if your stuff doesn’t show up in two days, life no longer seems fair!

Customer expectations have transformed virtually every industry. We want the convenience of one click, the power of recommendations and extreme personalization. We desire and expect flexibility and choice. We no longer judge services by industry. Best experiences across the board set our expectations.

Companies like Prudential can no longer compare themselves to traditional competitors, because customers now compare us to companies from all walks of life, not just financial services. If  an online retailer can deliver orange shoes in two days, why shouldn’t Prudential customers expect to get their life insurance policy issued just as quickly?

That means companies, including Prudential, must continually re-visit how they engage with customers. It’s simply not enough to efficiently complete a transaction. We need to think, “What are the needs of our customers and how does the current transaction connect to all their needs? Can we go above and beyond to serve them and delight them?”

At Prudential, for example, we need to build end-to-end experiences and solutions based on human needs. Our customers don’t think about products. They want to live life to the fullest and care about solving their life needs. How can we engage with them to learn about them? How can we learn about their key financial needs? And how can we be there for them at the right time and with the right solution? To solve for this requires new thinking, creativity, agility, speed, diligence and a willingness to take risks.

Take Amazon as an example. It certainly doesn’t owe all of its success to its websites and fine-tuned technological engine. The company instead depends on ensuring it has perfected its entire supply chain. They worked to integrate suppliers, streamline pricing and understand how shipping works. They had to fuss about little details like shipping labels, different sizes of boxes, and those air packets that keep contents from bouncing around the box—all while ensuring the package is light. An untold number of connectivity points must be established for everything to work seamlessly. Those little details—getting them right—drive customer experience and loyalty.

In the same way, all companies will need to think how to better serve and engage their customers. The life insurance industry has become adept at fast-tracking policies with smaller face amounts—to help pay for funeral expenses, for example--but what about for customers with larger or more complex policies? It’s imperative that as we think about our everyday work, we keep top of mind how we can give all customers the best experience.  

Ultimately, if we can create experiences that go beyond transaction to emotion—creating a positive emotion—we can drive intense customer loyalty. We won’t be successful if all we do is figure out how to be better than our closest peers. Our success will come by putting financial security within reach of everyone, thereby making an impact everywhere—at work, at home and in communities.


For media interested in speaking to Naveen Agarwal about innovation in the financial services industry, please contact Lisa Bennett.

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