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09:33 AM
Rod Brooks, PEMCO
Rod Brooks, PEMCO
Commentary
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Insurance Tech and Marketing Join to Save Forests

Paperless options speak to values PEMCO customers identify as important to them. Here's how we introduced them.

Doug Fir is smiling at PEMCO.

The road to business success flows through a crucial intersection. It's not a glitzy one with flashing lights and neon and grandiose billboards, so it's sometimes overlooked: This is the crossroads where brand values, operational efficiency and effective technology come together.

Recognizing the convergence is only the first step to success. Winning teams must understand market opportunities and business requirements, and they must develop solutions to benefit from the revamped traffic pattern. That's when marketing steps in.

Of course, it's the marketer's job to help identify opportunities in the first place, but merchandising and communicating the new and improved route is critical to achieving the goal. It's another case that begs for silo-busting and collaboration between operations, technology, and marketing. Let's look at a current example where I work.

Rod Brooks, PEMCO
Rod Brooks, PEMCO

[Previously from Brooks: Where Tech and Marketing Meet]

PEMCO customers now can choose paperless delivery for most of their policy and billing documents using their pemco.com self-service accounts. The launch marks our single biggest push to help customers cut their paper consumption since we introduced our EASY-PAY (automated deduction) payment plan in the 1990s.

The new paperless options for customers complement PEMCO's ongoing internal shift from paper-based to digital processes. Our first communication was internal. Introducing employees to the paperless experience was essential to future success when rolling out the program to agents and customers.

To celebrate this milestone, PEMCO encouraged those of its employees who also are PEMCO customers to go paperless on their pemco.com accounts. For the first 100 employees who signed up, PEMCO contributed to the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway Foundation – enough to plant and maintain a new grove of trees, something important to people who call the Northwest home.

Who says it isn't easy being green?

Customers who want to reduce their carbon footprint needn't go it alone in signing up for paperless delivery. Besides self sign-up on the company website, customers can get help from agents and service representatives. PEMCO Sales & Service and our customer information hub allow PEMCO to help customers select the paperless options they prefer and add notes about personal interests.

That's important, because it helps employees know when it's appropriate to encourage paperless delivery in future conversations. We want to be sensitive to customers' choices, rather than persistently offer paperless even after being told "no." At the same time, we want employees to feel comfortable and confident making the initial offer (and re-offering later as circumstances change).

In a message to employees, Jillian Moss, Digital Services program manager for PEMCO said, "This is a huge step for us, because it allows us to meet a core customer expectation. Electronic document delivery is a critical component in having an online relationship with our customers."

[The customer experience meets document delivery]

Designers have made the process easy, feel-good, and fun. On the start screen, our cartoon emissary Doug Fir doesn't look too perky when no paperless options are selected. But as customers choose more paperless options, he gets happier and happier until he's grinning bough-to-bough. The process takes less than a minute from start to finish – a business requirement that was elegantly met by PEMCO's I.T. team.

PEMCO's Doug Fir mascot
PEMCO's Doug Fir mascot

Northwest green is part of who we are

Paperless options are a natural fit with PEMCO's Northwest branding, and they speak to values PEMCO customers identify as important to them. Paperless is a smart financial move, too. Without a paperless option, carriers spend thousands of dollars each day to produce and mail cases of envelopes containing policies and bills. As a mutual insurance company – stewards of our policyholders' money – we'd much rather channel those funds toward services that directly benefit customers.

Paperless documents join EASY-PAY, Go PEMCO mobile access, and our online Perspective newsletter as part of our growing list of green choices for customers. And like our internally focused efforts that include electric car charging stations, solar panels on our roof, compostable supplies in the cafeteria, and earth-friendly remodeling choices in our offices, paperless options support our commitment to make the Northwest a better place to work, live, play, and learn.

About the author: Rod Brooks is VP and CMO of PEMCO, a regional P&C insurer in the Pacific Northwest.

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Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
4/27/2014 | 8:29:44 PM
re: Insurance Tech and Marketing Join to Save Forests
Yeah it's good example of personalizing marketing efforts to the customer profile.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
4/27/2014 | 6:54:46 PM
re: Insurance Tech and Marketing Join to Save Forests
I agree this is a really interesting approach. Especially the part about how it makes the company feel comfortable enough to re-ask the paperless question down the road.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
4/27/2014 | 6:53:20 PM
re: Insurance Tech and Marketing Join to Save Forests
The sad to happy Doug Fir reminds me of years ago I read about a utility company that put smiley and frown faces on their bills. Smiley for customers who used less than the average energy consumption, frowns for those who used more. The next month, energy consumptions was way down across the board - it was credited to the desire to keep the smiley or replace the frown. It's brilliant how these simple, subtle, campaigns make a big difference
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
4/26/2014 | 2:33:13 PM
re: Insurance Tech and Marketing Join to Save Forests
Thanks Rod. PEMCO is a clear leader in understanding what makes its customers different from other insurance buyers. While many insurers are going paperless, it's really interesting how you drove adoption by playing off what you know about your customer, rather than sending generic messaging to them.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
4/18/2014 | 6:10:30 PM
re: Insurance Tech and Marketing Join to Save Forests
I like this - what a creative (and eco-friendly) way to appeal to the target audience. We hear a lot about companies going digital to cater to tech-savvy consumers, but PEMCO took it a step further to appeal to other widely-held values among its Northwest customers. I can see how this strategy would appeal to them.
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