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Wes Hunt, Vice President, Customer Analytics at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company

Wes Hunt, Vice President, Customer Analytics at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company

By Wes Hunt

At my company, we have been using Big Data and analytics, as permitted by law, to transform the way we serve our customers – to provide deeply personalized services. We study customer behaviors, preferences, and relationships to get a full 360 degree view of our customers.At Nationwide, we put members first.

We’ve always promised to protect the things that are the most important to them: their assets, their peace of mind and even their dreams, no matter how simple or grand they may be. Our brand promise, “Nationwide Is On Your Side,” is built on the core belief of building and enhancing customer relationships. We are committed to knowing and caring about our members, and being easy to do business with.

Within the last 18 months, we have made significant strides to enhance our customer relationships thanks to our Big Data and analytics investments. Today, Nationwide is developing insights that are clearly articulated, meaningful and actionable to the needs of millions customers and prospects. Our strong, data-driven customer infrastructure helps enable sales improvement, retention efforts, call center efficiencies and improved claims service.

Big Data, without action, can be an extraordinarily expensive burden on an organization.  A part of why Nationwide has been so successful in leveraging Big Data is because we place an equal emphasis on enabling people within the organization to take action on analytic insights.

A new IBM study surprisingly revealed that more than half the organizations that are leading with Big Data are also struggling to overcome political or executive constraints to make the most of their investments. This was cited as a top challenge holding businesses back from delivering even greater value from analytics.

Nationwide has experienced, and overcome, this very challenge. We did this by purposefully building a culture of trust, and focusing on incrementally increasing the scope and complexity of analytic work. To instill confidence in the data – we encouraged individuals to dissect, debate and vet out different analysis of the data – so that stakeholders could define the right courses of action.

Before beginning our own Big Data journey, we had plenty of internal doubts to conquer around embracing new technologies within our organization. As with any large transformation initiative, there are challenges to create buy-in.

At the outset, we confirmed with our legal team that our approach would be in compliance with privacy & data protection laws. Protecting customer information is a top priority and this was an important initial step for the project.

Stakeholders usually expressed their reservations around Big Data in one of two ways. Through skepticism – best described as “How can I be sure that it works?” Or, through “blind trust” – best described as, “It looks complicated, so it must be right.”

To address these concerns on an ongoing basis, we focus on building trusted relationships with stakeholders. We believe that trust is established by consistently delivering meaningful and actionable business insights that enable others for success. One of our primary methods to break down trust barriers is through personal interaction, whether it is by explaining how the analysis was done, why certain recommendations are being made or even why the analysts believe the recommended actions will work. We are successful when stakeholders view the analytics team as an extension of their own.

By taking this approach, we have experienced a 20-fold growth in adoption of Big Data insights that guide customer interactions, accounting for more than 7 million analytically-guided interactions last year.

So has our big bet on Big Data paid off? You bet. But we never would have come this far if we didn’t have the right organizational structure in place. By fostering a strong and pervasive level of personal trust, across all levels within the organization, I am proud to say that Nationwide has been able to capitalize on Big Data for customer success.
___________________________________________________

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[…] a big priority at Nationwide – in all areas of the enterprise. Prior to becoming CDO, I was the VP of Customer Analytics, using actionable insights from data to put our members first. My team worked across the company to […]


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