AEGON is one of the world’s largest providers of pensions, life insurance and asset management. The AEGON strategy is to make people financially aware and to help them make the important choices regarding their financial future. I talked with Han de Ruiter, marketing director AEGON Netherlands, about their marketing/communication strategy.
Most financial organizations are challenged by the fact that customers don’t fully understand complicated financial products. Many people don’t feel well-equipped enough to make choices in a wide range of financial products and services.
Although there are many intermediaries that can give this advice, we feel responsible for making transparent products, providing overview and making sure potential customers are well informed and aware of what they are buying, and of the benefits and services they receive. Today’s consumers no longer want to be sold to. They are looking for more than catchy slogans. They need relevant information and added value at the right time, says Han. The customer is in the lead and all we need to do is enable the customer to take control. Therefore, in the AEGON communication strategy, social media and new technology solutions play such an important role. The customer-in-control also expects that he or she decides how information is consumed. Traditional letters and a simple website are no longer sufficient. So, our customers can manage their products by accessing their personal page ‘Mijnaegon.nl’ on the Aegon web portal. As an financial organization you also need to provide apps –like the Aegon Pensioen app -for smartphone and tablets that deliver the overview that people want. The consumer wants 24/7 access and you have to deliver that.
Our marketing strategy is based on giving helpful information and making people aware: we give customers the information they want. Our approach is pro-active. At the same time this strategy is also based on co-creation: we do not simply make the products we think our customers need. Instead, we ask our customers about their needs and use their input into the process of making and improving our products. We have an online customer panel that tests our new internet sites, newsletters, product information, etc.
On the AEGON corporate blog, content is organized into 6 different sections, each with useful information. The blog is promoted through the various customer touch points: Facebook, Twitter and our own Youtube channel, continues Han de Ruiter.
Just like the client approach Aegon has developed an athlete centric sponsoring approach. We are one of the best known and largest sports sponsors in the Netherlands. The AEGON vision in sponsoring strategy is: give athletes a chance to fulfill their dreams, and not only by providing financial support. There is more to sponsoring than just putting your name on a shirt. We sponsor for the long term. In the Netherlands AEGON is the main sponsor of AJAX (the Amsterdam soccer club) and the education of the players is a focus item. AEGON explicitly sponsors the club’s youth program, for example with the AEGON Future Cup. Also In other countries we sponsor many other activities that are supposed to encourage grassroots developments. This includes a UK program that promotes tennis in local communities and at schools.
The main challenge however, is to avoid strategic drift within the organization. Make sure that the internal corporate culture embraces the same values. As Han de Ruiter says, win on the outside, start at the inside (buiten winnen, binnen beginnen). Culture values are driven from the inside out. We pay extra attention to make sure that everyone within the AEGON organization puts customers’ needs first. We need to keep the customer at heart, that’s what AEGON is all about.
Although we have been very busy implementing one technology after another, we never got lost regarding the personal interactions. Many of our new solutions are designed to strengthen and deepen the relationships with our customers, shares Han. I’ll give you an example: just half a year ago, the Aegon mortgages department launched an SMS (text messaging)-service that informs customers when their financing is ready. By doing so, they give customers the assurance that everything is properly taken care of. First, the customer receives a text message (SMS) from Aegon that the financing is agreed. Later in the process, the customer receives another AEGON-text message. One day before the deed is executed at the notary’s the customer receives a message stating that the money is transferred to the notary. Imagine you’re waiting for a decision about financing your dream home and instead of waiting for days for a snail mail you receive an AEGON text message reading: “Good news. The requested loan for your home is approved. The notary and your real estate agent are informed. Sincerely, AEGON Mortgages”. Another example is the mortgage app we introduced to make it easy for our customers to manage the deposits regarding their new house.
“These are smart solutions and the most important thing is: customers are very enthusiastic about this extra added value.’