Suncorp ‘doubles down’ on NPS as part of major transformation drive

Andrew Chanmugam Insurance Summit

As part of a multi-year, whole-of-enterprise transformation drive, which has taken the group from a market cap low of $11 billion a decade ago to $17.2 billion today, Suncorp Group completely rejigged its internal net promoter score (NPS) model to directly measure the impact of business decisions – from “top to tail” – on customers, according to chief customer advocate Andrew Chanmugam.

“To bring the customer to the fore, we needed a new model, a new modality to think about NPS,” said Chanmugam, speaking at FST Media’s Insurance Summit 2023.

“We doubled down on NPS. We took NPS from a score to a system. From the CEO down to the shop floor, [we] can measure NPS, top to tail, on the impacts of actions we would take,” he said.

This reworking of the NPS model, he said, has served as a catalyst for positive and targeted enhancements to its customer journeys across all Suncorp brands.

As part of a wide-scale customer experience transformation play, Chanmugam’s team sought to directly tie Episodic NPS (that is, the promoter score which is associated with a specific customer journey, process or moment in the life of a customer) to key business drivers.

“We started with strategic NPS, mapped out the journeys, had the episodes that customers go through, and linked that through to our operations drivers,” he said.

In its latest annual report, Suncorp reported that its to be sold banking arm’s NPS had moved from a six-month rolling average of -33 in July 2020 to +49 in June 2023.

NPS for its main motor insurance brand, AAMI, sits at +3.6 as of June 2023. While this is down on the +6.0 recorded at the end of FY22, it is up several points from the +1.7 recorded in 2020.

On the long road to Agile

Like many digital-forward financial services businesses, Suncorp has readily embraced Agile management principles across its business. Now in its fourth year, Suncorp has christened its Agile transformation program, at least internally, as ‘Momentum’.

Today, a little over a quarter of Suncorp’s workforce, around 3,500 out of a total of 13,000 staff, now work in a “tribe/chapter [and] platform” Agile model, according to Chanmugam.

“The purpose of our Agile adoption is to empower these teams. They’re self-forming, cross-functional, and multidisciplinary, [enabled] to make decisions on what work they should do that drives the highest return on investment for that customer.

“That’s empowered the frontlines of our teams to get going and really move at pace.”

While acknowledging there are detractors and sceptics of Agile, Chanmugam said his Suncorp team “absolutely loves” the methodology.

“We’re massive zealots and advocates for it. There are those on the other side of the spectrum who think it’s a whole lot of buzzwords. But I do think it’s somewhere in-between.”

While he noted that Agile is but one “weapon in your armoury” for process improvement, he said the real benefits of Agile are realised by it forcing the alignment of business practices with the needs and wants of customers.

“Firstly, [Agile gives you] clear alignment and accountability of people around the customer.”

“Secondly, and one of the most underrated aspects of Agile, is the transparency that it provides.

“It’s like a visual management board: you’re very clear in terms of what you’re doing and there is a discussion around prioritisation – the most important and least important priorities are made clear,” he said.

What’s next for a slimmed-down Suncorp?

After a decade of change and transformation, including major business divestments and increased focus on its general insurance offering, the Group still has a “long way to go” to realise its full potential, Chanmugam said.

“If our market cap is $17 billion, our actual true value is well over $20 billion.”

Indeed, he noted that pre-GFC, the Group had a market cap of $25 billion, but collapsed after “10 years of consecutive market share decline”.

Chanmugam acknowledged that the Group’s agile transformation “has just started, and we need to get that to maturity”.

“We need to deliver value faster, more effectively, more efficiently so our team engagement can still go up.”

With the hope of soon unlocking substantial capital from the sale of its banking arm, the GI-focused Suncorp Group, he said, will look to “make a material investment in our technology”.

“We want to move to more cloud-based, open-source agile infrastructure that allows our teams to run faster.”

Previously, he noted, Suncorp’s “propositions to market” were beset by a significant manual intervention.

“Our tech stack wasn’t flexible and wasn’t responsive. It didn’t allow us to go to market quickly. We really had to focus on unhinging some of those legacy systems and having a pathway and a new roadmap in terms of that technology.”

Chanmugam acknowledged the prospective sale of Suncorp Bank to ANZ (currently before the Australian Competition Tribunal after the transaction was blocked by competition regulator, the ACCC, last month), was motivated by an active push by management to realign Suncorp’s business focus towards its more lucrative insurance offering, as well as more prosaic concerns around increased capital requirements for banks demanded by prudential regulator APRA.

“The [sale of Suncorp Bank] allows us… to get some really strong scale efficiencies across our portfolios. That’s the real benefit of this transaction.”

“We want to be the number one general insurance provider in Australia and New Zealand, and really fulfil on our purpose.

“We want customers to know that, when things happen, they can rely on us.”