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How Aviva Innovated B2B Insurance for Modern Small Businesses

Dr. Nick Coates, C Space VP, was awarded the prestigious AQR Prosper Riley-Smith Qualitative Excellence Award at the 2015 Market Research Society Awards for his work with Aviva.

Click here to read the full case study about how Aviva innovated their B2B insurance offering.

When we think of “small business,” the first image that comes to mind for many of us is the local mom-and-pop shop – you know, the one with a credit card swiper on the counter and ads on the local radio station that nobody listens to.

But change has been brewing for small biz. In the last 10 years, thanks in large part to a rebounding global economy, the Internet, and ubiquitous technology, small business has undergone a big transformation. Consequently, the small business owner has changed drastically. Now an entrepreneur with an MBA in finance can leave his 9 to 5, get funded on Kickstarter, accept digital payments via Square and PayPal, market on Twitter and Facebook, and grow to become a major supplier to Amazon.

This is disintermediation in living color – and, a few years ago, it began to creep into B2B insurance. Small business owners were starting to behave like empowered shoppers, comparing options, scrutinizing purchases, and demanding customized insurance plans tailored to their specific business needs.

Some insurers viewed disintermediation as a threat. Not improving their B2B offering meant the potential risk of losing share to competitors. But others saw it as opportunity. If the right changes were made to update B2B insurance, growth and leadership in the SME market, especially in the broker space, could result.

One insurance company that found a solution to the challenge: Aviva, the UK’s largest insurance provider.

C Space and Aviva worked together to develop an innovation process that started with a broad question and ended with refined product and service concepts ready for market. It all hinged on gaining a holistic understanding of the modern small business owner.

Critically, the innovation work uncovered the human stories that led to a key insight: small isn’t simple.

Small businesses have specific, highly complex insurance needs. For example, a sole proprietor electrician whose main job is to change lightbulbs struggled to get insurance coverage because one of his clients was a nuclear power station. When your business operates near high-grade uranium, getting insurance suddenly becomes a lot more complex.

Stories such as this brought the realities and pain points of SME owners to life for Aviva stakeholders and brokers, too – both within the context of the small business world and outside of it. Customer narratives were shared across Aviva to inspire employees to tangibly see, feel, and internalize the end customer. The work created buy-in, provoked change, and instilled empathy for small business owners.

Today, Aviva leads the market for SME broker solutions. “The deep insight that we now have into what makes our customers tick and what keeps them up at night has set us apart from our competition,” says Anna King, SME E-trading Propositions Business Manager.

A redesigned experience of Aviva’s now award-winning broker trading platform has increased insurance quotes and conversion rates significantly. The company has also launched a complementary revenue stream: a mobile-ready product that gives small business owners anytime, anywhere access to fast, flexible insurance options without the need to involve intermediaries.

Innovation work with C Space “has been at the heart of our SME commercial developments for the past couple of years,” says Aviva Customer Solutions Director, Ian Ferguson, “It has helped drive us on our journey to being a properly customer-first company.”

As a testament to the success of customer-inspired innovation, Aviva now has a focus called “Customer” in its commercial business unit, ensuring the end customer is at the heart of every decision and action.

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