Simplifiers Interview: Mark Evans, Marketing Director of Direct Line Group

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Behind every brand delivering simpler experiences for customers is a leader who recognizes the inherent value in keeping things simple. Here I interview marketing leaders and founders of brands that have performed well in the Global Brand Simplicity Index. In this Simplifiers interview, I speak with Mark Evans, marketing director of Direct Line Group. 

What does Direct Line stand for, and how does it deliver on that promise?

Direct Line stands for being a fixer: our staff are fixers, we fix things. We deliver on this across the whole matrix of customer experience.

For 20 years, all providers talked about was price and the process of buying insurance, rather than the point of need.

To activate on our promise, we helped show our frontline staff that they’re fixers, and help them feel proud of what they do: they get stuff done, they don’t let you down, they make it happen. It’s a simple thought everyone can understand.

What role does simplicity play in delivering on that promise?

Fixing things in a simple and pragmatic way is not easy. For example, in the past, it may have taken three weeks to get your car repaired. Recently, we’ve digitized the process so we guarantee it will take seven days maximum or we’ll pay you 10 pounds a day. We’re simplifying the insurance process for the customer—but in order to do that, a lot of work goes into the back end.

What are the challenges in creating simple customer experiences, and how have you overcome them?

The problems that previously would have taken weeks and days to solve, we’re now fixing in hours and minutes. That’s a challenge.

How do you lead as a simplifier?

I lead with the understanding that consumers have busy lives. So if you’re going to get through to them, you need to keep it really simple.

How have you operationalized simplicity at Direct Line?

We link our goals to our brand promise of being fixers. And we made the Net Promoter Score a key part of everyone’s bonus, so people care explicitly about customer outcomes.

What’s the most compelling simple experience you’ve had as a consumer recently?

I think it’s brilliant how Fitbit has gamified their experience and made the UX perfect. In the wearables space, there’s a low tolerance for things not working because it’s on your body.

Why do so many c-levels struggle to implement simplicity?

There’s an inherent belief that surely things can’t be that simple. People believe for me to personally put my stamp on something, it can’t be simple or else it negates the need for my intelligence. But humility is a good thing.

Marketing executives often believe competitive advantage comes from something complicated and hard to copy, as opposed to from something that’s simple.

What piece of advice would you give other brands that want to simplify?

Marketing hasn’t changed. The craze around social, mobile and digital obscure the fact that the basics of Marketing haven’t changed. It’s about finding what consumers want, challenging the organization to deliver it as simply as possible and telling consumers that they can have it.

What does simplicity mean to you?

I love the paradox: The bigger the market, the bigger the challenge, the greater the disruption you want to cause, the more “simple” you need to be.

What’s the biggest mistake brands are making regarding simplifying?

Knowing when to get in the way and when to get out of the way. Multichannel is a big conundrum. You want to provide convenience and let consumers do whatever they want, on whatever channel, at whatever time. But at the same time you can confuse them. 

What’re the key indicators that simplicity is driving your business?
We track metrics such as how quickly we fix problems, customer satisfaction and whether customers feel we’re on their side. And we’re market leading on these metrics.

This interview of Mark Evans, marketing director of Direct Line Group, was conducted, edited and condensed by Margaret Molloy.

This is one in an ongoing Simplifiers series. See interviews with Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman; Ally CMO, Andrea Riley; former Target EVP and CMO, Jeff JonesDeborah Wahl, CMO of McDonald’s USA; President of Jet.com, Liza Landsman and VP of Marketing at Jet.com,Sumaiya Balbale.

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy and Instagram: @MargaretMMolloy

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