How is your organisation using data and analytics to support the corporate vision and purpose?
Our Direct Line Group Plc purpose is to be a "force for good", and we bring this alive brilliantly as a breakdown rescue company – Green Flag. We operate 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, and have done for 50 years. Every day we rescue customers, across more than 9,500 postcodes in the UK and across Europe, in acute emergency situations, in all weather, often where the customer and our technicians are working in dangerous and scary situations. As such, data, and its intelligent use, is at the very essence of who we are and how we deliver outstanding customer outcomes every single minute, every single day.
2020 was a year like no other - how did it impact on your planned activities and what unplanned ones did you have to introduce?
Green Flag has continued to deliver outstanding customer service and support across 2020 despite everything. We are proud of how everyone in the Direct Line Group has flowed to support each other, get employees safe at home, quickly, and in doing so be epic for our customers. In Green Flag, we went from 96% office based to 100% homeworking across five tough days in March, and we focused on crisis mode first, to stability in four weeks, to driving performance on our core transformation plan in 12 weeks, including iterations to our customer app and website as customers accelerated their digital adoption. And we also delivered free NHS staff rescues as well!
Green Flag maintained our build to budget and timings of a new cloud-based customer service engine, new data lakes and architecture, new APIs and supporting our development of becoming a broader "motorist services" business.
Like so many this year, we have had to adapt and pivot to address the short-term challenges or issues. We’ve had to ensure that onboarding our people to new systems while homeworking was successful, we’ve had to adapt our communication and engagement focus, we’ve had to adapt our recruitment and onboarding processes, we’ve had to adapt to new H&S processes with the technicians and customers, and we’ve had to change customer journeys, many times. But it’s the same for everyone, and I’m super proud of the accountability of our people in doing the right thing and focusing on making positive things happen.
Looking forward to 2021, what are your expectations for data and analytics within your organisation?
2021 promises to be a year of continued development of Green Flag’s capabilities, with more data, cleaner and faster, with better customer outcomes as a result. Our transparency of the business, and the ability to drive better decisions will be enhanced, with more fundamental parts of our strategy coming alive to help us be more competitive for the medium term.
Culturally, we will live and breathe the new capabilities, being more insight driven across our entire business, which will help us win more of the time. The better our capabilities are, the easier we will find it to get talent to join, and ultimately being part of successful business, that is growing, which is ambitious, which has a culture of being amazing for customers, is an exciting place to be. So, more data, with more insight, means great business momentum, and lots of fun.
Is data for good part of your personal or business agenda for 2021? If so, what form will it take?
At Direct Line Group our purpose is to be a "force for good". As part of this, we are driving our low carbon position and capabilities, initiatives for communities, charities, Covid-19 support and helping social mobility. As we build our data competencies more and more in 2021, we will shape an effective strategy for gathering, assessing, and using data for good, supporting Green Flag being a brilliant breakdown recovery and rescue business for our customers 24/7.
What has been your path to power?
I’ve been lucky. From University, my first job was at Procter & Gamble on Bold washing powder. As part of its general management career path, I got to learn and grow on UK, European and global businesses, living in several places, travelling, and learning all the time.
I then joined Centrica as marketing director for British Gas, which was a scaled customer centric culture, and some amazing people, which led to setting up British Gas Smart Homes, a test-and-learn hub for the future; smart meters at scale, digitalising energy, electric vehicles and charge point installations, plus Internet of Things products, including smart home automation.
My next role was as MD for Domestic & General UK & Ireland, which does care plans for everything we take for granted in our homes, until they break; so, think fridges, freezers, boilers, mobile devices, TVs, etc. That was exciting and we delivered new growth to a great business.
I then joined Direct Line Group to lead the Rescue business through a new customer-centric transformation.
What is the proudest achievement of your career to date?
I’m proud to have had so many fantastic experiences, worked for and with some awesome people, and to love doing what I’m doing. The personal journey I have gone on, and the learning through good and bad experiences, has made me a better leader. The best thing though, is seeing people around you grow, develop, and have outstanding careers. If I played a small role in helping them on their journey, then that makes me feel proud.
Tell us about a career goal or a purpose for your organisation that you are pursuing?
Green Flag wants to be the number one motorist brand in the UK. We’ve got a long way to go, but we are an agile and ambitious business and can see a future which has lots of growth opportunities. By pursuing this agenda, we can help Direct Line Group Plc deliver on our "force for good" purpose.
Making a difference to the customers we have, winning new customers and providing outstanding value for money, supporting the communities we all live and work in to be successful and prosperous. For example, Green Flag uses a network of over 250 local businesses across the UK, with over 4,000 automotive technicians who deliver amazing customer service and help 24/7. This partnership, while commercial, is one that we take seriously on our interdependency to look after customers, especially in light of Covid this past 12 months.
How closely aligned to the business are data and analytics both within your own organisation and at an industry level? What helps to bring the two closer together?
The world of financial services is embedded in rigour with data and analytics, and within the insurance world, it brings competitive advantage if done well. Having quality data, with the right capabilities, and using amazing talent to build sustainable and winning business models is key to long term development of the industry.
Customers’ needs and wants change and evolve over time, sometimes very quickly, and the ability to have a data-driven culture, and competence to leverage the insights to help to adapt quickly is key to future success. The more businesses focus on winning externally, the better they can evolve, using data and analytics as a catalyst, and the internal energy of a business can be used effectively to delight their customers and grow.
What is your view on how to develop a data culture in an organisation, building out data literacy and creating a data-first mindset?
I believe that most people come to work to do a good job, to have fun, develop and make a positive difference. So firstly, having a quality vision and purpose for everyone, a ‘why’ do we come to work, is key to engaging the hearts and minds of teams. Then being clear on what good looks like, so everyone is clear on the success, the outcomes we want, the key results.
Finally having a performance culture where we are trusted, curious, empowered, encourage simplicity, and can test, learn, and adapt is what we feel at Direct Line Group is key. Data is embedded in driving our capabilities, data gives power as you get the insight and the knowledge from the data which helps make better decisions for tomorrow.