Cover Story: Let Customers Be Your Guide
Part of the reason HMS has invested so readily in this upgrade is that it has already seen results. "Voice-of-the-Customer Marketing" quotes Stein saying, "consumers immediately responded to our efforts, and this was reflected in renewal rates that increased 20 percent nationwide." However, in our interview, he says 20 percent was the average lift across the board. "We saw lift of nearly 75 percent in certain segments," especially in segments where consumers receive integrated multichannel direct marketing.
HMS is still trying to figure out how to get that lift across all segments. But those results provided incentive to invest in the strategies that emerged from the research. Stein says, "In a tough economy where everyone has limited capital to invest, it provided a very confident strategic direction for our business."
In addition, the research gives HMS a confidence in its knowledge of what its clients want, and that has changed its position in the market. "We can now sit in a room and talk in a very sophisticated, thought leadership fashion about exactly what our purpose is, [and] what we're trying to accomplish," says Stein. "We have received such good feedback from that, we gained clients. Not just consumers (homeowners), but corporate clients. These are huge companies who say, 'Wow, you really get it.'"
"Getting it" has allowed HMS to go into situations where Stein feels other companies might be hypothesizing about the market or what consumers want. But VOC research allows Stein and HMS to "talk with certainty, because we know."