With over 1000 employees across its International offices, Company X operates in Sweden, Spain, Singapore, The Netherlands, Germany and Canada as well as its headquarters in London. Through their Underwriting divisions and business lines they cover a wide variety of risks in niche markets. Underwriting divisions include Marine and Energy, Professional Liability, Specialty, Trade Credit and Equine and Livestock. Within the insurance market Company X is the largest provider of specialist insurance and has grown rapidly in recent years with several acquisitions, new product development and the introduction of new business lines.
It is understood that Company X has contact with their customers in a variety of ways, however, due to lack of time and resource they have not followed a consistent format in terms of medium used, look and feel, individual/team delivering the message, frequency and depth of detail. In order to deliver key messages to internal and external recipients, Company X have adopted a ‘one size fits all’ approach rather than developing structured campaigns that address specific needs and preferences.
Company X have also had difficulties in measuring the success of their communication activities due to their ad- hoc nature. In order to address these issues, Company X has asked FED Thinking to produce a research proposal which will define how Company Ax’s newest division – Equine and Livestock, should communicate with their brokers on a day-to-day basis and when distributing their monthly update bulletin њ Horses Mouth and keeping them abreast of new product lines which will be launched in the future.
Should the strategy prove successful then Company X will roll this initiative across all of its divisions to ensure their brokers are receiving consistent, timely information. This proposal will examine client attitudes towards the media Company X use o deliver messages, the frequency of contact and imagery used in previous communication campaigns, advertising and PR activities. This will indicate which previous activities have been successful or unsuccessful and assist with selecting an appropriate coordinated approach to ensure all communications are well received by brokers, achieve the desired response and satisfy their needs. . Objectives The overall purpose of this research is to develop a coordinated approach to Company Ax’s communication campaigns for the Equine and Livestock division The main research objectives that Company X wishes to address are as allows: Identify what contacts Company X has with different customer types This objective will gather information to examine how Company X currently communicates With their brokers.
The following sub-objectives will help to provide valuable feedback regarding the overall success of past activities. Determine the number of brokers who have received previous communications Explore where key messages have been communicated effectively and understood by brokers Identify methods of interaction, how frequently each is used and what brokers prefer Identify their views on the language and imagery used
Consider other elements that could have been included in the communication Establish who else in the market brokers have contact with and how Company Compares Examine the attitudes of different customers towards these contacts This objective will determine client views on their contact with Company X, which will assist in determining how to approach future campaigns.
Determine how important the brokers consider contact with Company X Consider whether previous communications have met with expectations Identify’ which aspects of communication are relevant/useful Discuss the frequency of interaction, are messages accurately and coherently involved?
Determine broker satisfaction with response speed, knowledge, professionalism Suggest improvements that could be made to enhance interaction Determine the type of contact customers prefer This objective will identify the most popular forms of medium for receiving communications within the target market, which will assist with the selection of medium when developing the campaign for the Equine and Livestock division.
Analyses the medium brokers prefer to be contacted by for different types of messages Consider examples where communication has been particularly good/bad Identify who brokers would expect their ammunitions to come from Determine the preferred style of communication in terms of layout and content Discuss how frequently brokers want to be contacted Discuss brokers experience with other insurance companies and how Company Compare Identify what brokers consider to be best practice Identify the most important characteristics of effective contact This objective will investigate what factors constitute effective communications in reaching the target audience and generating a satisfactory response.
What factors are important to the brokers when interacting with Company CD rate the allowing aspects II professionalism, friendliness, knowledge, content, imagery, timeshare, length, clarity, accuracy? Consider what constitutes effective and ineffective communications Reaction to previous communications, show examples Analyses whether preferences and trends vary between demographic groups 3. Methodology and rationale The methodology outlined below will deliver the information sought from the objectives outlined by Company X. 1. 1 Secondary desk research Secondary research, which is also referred to as desk research, involves the investigation of data that already exists. It may take the form of internal scores such as customer databases and annual reports or from outside the organization via external research such as government statistics.
The information gained at this stage can also help with the development of questionnaires for primary research (Malaria & Birds, 2007). Secondary data is undertaken prior to any primary research as it is much cheaper and less time consuming 0 especially with the internet. This exploratory research widens the knowledge base so that any gaps that may present themselves can be filled in with primary research. However, the data gained through secondary research is often not directly elated to the research question so does not entirely satisfy our needs. Another limitation is that it may be out of date and there may be some bias. Therefore secondary data will be used to provide direction for the next phase of research.
Secondary research Sources of internal research will include: Past research conducted Comments and complaints raised by brokers Information from e-shots and website Sources of external research will include: Competitor websites Trade press Regional/national press Journals/reports from Load’s Association Proceed re The research will commence with a thorough analysis of past comments eased by brokers following communication from Company X, this might include comments following events, e-bulletins (including Horses Mouth), Market Matters (Company Ax’s publication), advertising and sponsorship, for example. Research conducted by Company Kin 201 0 will also be analyses to determine whether actions following that research have been implemented and whether they have been successful.
The research will also look at data available from email software C] Daimler D this system provides information on who has opened the email, how long they have kept it open, what stories/ treasures they have clicked on etc. Similar information can also be pulled from the website. External research will be gathered from regional and national press as well as trade press. Journals and reports from Load’s will identify current trends within the market. Competitor websites will be analyses to benchmark against the competition as well as inspire new ideas for Company Ax’s communication strategy. 1. 2 Primary research Primary data can be defined as that collected through either quantitative or qualitative methods to meet a set of specific objectives (Wilson, 2006). The allowing data methods will be employed. 1 . 2. Qualitative research Qualitative research can be defined as ‘an unstructured research approach with a small number of carefully selected individuals to produce non- quantifiable insights into behavior motivations and attitudes’ (Wilson, 2006). This type Of data cannot be analyses statistically but it has the advantage Of producing highly detailed insights. Qualitative research often involves small groups of individuals and therefore my not be representative of the larger population but it does provide an in depth insight into the range of attitudes ND preferences in relation to Company Ax’s interaction with its clients and how this can be enhanced.
The objectives for the qualitative research are: Identify what contacts Company X has with different customer types o Examine the attitudes of different customers towards these contacts o Identify the most important characteristics of effective contact 1 . 2. 2 Methodology D Focus group Given the exploratory nature Of the qualitative research objectives, the methodology selected for this exploratory stage will be 4 focus groups. Focus groups are recommended as they provide in-depth knowledge into customer attitudes towards Company Ax’s communication methods and how they can be improved upon to have more of an impact. Depth interviews were considered for this phase of research, however focus groups are the preferred technique for several reasons. Group discussions allow interaction between participants who feed off each others comments.
Focus groups are also cheaper to conduct per head and they are less time consuming as you can have up to 12 people in each group. For the purpose of this research Equine and Livestock broker database randomly selected 48 brokers from their contact list. Each of the 48 will be invited to attend one focus group session. Over-inviting is necessary to ensure at least 8 are available for each session. The groups will be mixed in terms of age, business level, experience and broking house. The members of each focus group will be asked to discuss various topic areas relating to previous communication activities to highlight attitudes and preferences. Stimuli will be used including past advertisements, invitations and web images.
This will determine how effective communication activities have been at correctly communicating the message. The results will assist with the placement and execution of future communications to Equine and Livestock’s brokers, including their e-bulletin Horses Mouth. Recruitment of participants Participants will be recruited from Equine and Livestock database of brokers CLC including past, current and potential clients. Eight are required for each focus group therefore 12 will be invited in the first instance to ensure at least 8 turn up. The focus groups will take the format of a breakfast briefing which should minimize the impact to their working day.
They will be provided with breakfast and given EYE in high street vouchers as an incentive. As implying Participant attitudes may vary depending on their age, their business level, their experience and other insurers they interact with; however it is not thought that this will be significant enough to subdivide the groups. The target population is current, past and potential brokers. Participants will be selected on a randomized basis from Equine and Livestock’s contact database. Procedure The focus groups will take place in a private room in London near Lloyd as this is a convenient location for all involved. The groups will be small, each containing at least 8 participants.
An experienced moderator qualified in research and business psychology will facilitate the focus groups to ensure that the discussions remain on track and the research objectives are fully addressed. Based on Willow’s (2006) recommended format of ‘the introduction phase’, ‘the discursive phase’ and the summarizing phase’, a topic guide will be presented to the moderator to help control the focus group. This will outline the areas to be explored along with timeshares. Although group members should discuss the topics amongst themselves as much as possible the moderator may have to employ a couple of projective quenches to encourage participation from all members of the group.
Projective techniques are used to uncover feelings, beliefs and motivations which participants may have difficulty articulating. This will include cartoon completion tests where the participants are shown cartoon characters interacting with Company Using various forms of contact, they will then be asked to verbalism what the character is thinking. Sentence completion tests will also be used CLC they require the subject to complete sentence “stems” with their own words. Stimulus material will be used in the focus groups to gauge attitudes towards revises communication activities. These will include examples of e-bulletins, invitations, advertisements, website stills. Competitor examples will also be included without telling the participants.
Members will be asked to discuss their positive and negative aspects and pinpoint which they prefer. Each focus group will be recorded to ensure all information, including body language, is interpreted correctly. With written permission from the participants a DVD of this recording will be presented to Company Switch the final report. An independent researcher will also be present to make notes which will form he basis of the final report. Data Analysis Once the research has been completed the data will be analyses by 2 individuals. Notes taken by the moderator and the DVD recording as well as transcripts from the independent researcher will be typed into a Microsoft Word document for the final presentation to Company X. 1. Quantitative research Quantitative research can be defined as a structured research approach involving a sample of the population to produce quantifiable insights into behavior, motivations and attitudes, larger samples are used in quantitative research than qualitative research (Proctor, 2005). Quantitative research Will also be used in this project to build an overall picture of Company Ax’s interactions with clients. The thoughts, attitudes and preferences of the wider population will be extremely valuable in determining the best method for Company future communication and will support the qualitative research findings, therefore the overall objectives will be the same as for qualitative research. Methodology D Online survey 1. 3. 1 Online surveys are completed by the targeted individual respondent.
This type of questionnaire is the cheapest to administer, as it does not involve the employment of an interviewer, either on the phone or face-to-face. However, it is also the least likely to be completed so has the lowest response rate. The focus group in the exploratory phase of the research will inform the content of the online survey. Online surveys have several advantages over other research methods 0 they eliminate interviewer bias and can use a large sample group. However, the sunny must be designed very carefully to avoid ambiguity and will not have the motivational advantages of interviews (Wilson, 2006). The survey will be sent via email with a link to access it on an external website C] Zimmerman.
The email will provide a short explanation of why the research is being carried out. All those who enter will go into a prize draw to win a EYE high street voucher as an incentive. Sampling The survey will be sent to all those on the Equine and Livestock contact list excluding those who took part in the focus groups. A pilot survey will be distributed to a small number of internal staff to evaluate the effectiveness and general understanding of the survey. This will allow for any improvements to be made before the launch of the full survey to brokers. The online survey will be emailed to all brokers on Equine and Livestock’s contact list 278 in total.
The survey will be accompanied by a short explanation of the research and its objectives including completion date. Participants will be informed that they can obtain a copy of the final results if they so wish. They will also be informed that they can forward the email containing the link to other relevant brokers D this will allow Company Ext gain more broker contacts. A response rate of 50% (139 individuals) is expected, this will provide a good representation of the collective attitudes ND preferences of Equine and Livestock’s brokers. Data analysis The online survey software used D Zimmerman, collates all the results and automatically produces graphs, charts and tables as well as raw data. This will save a great deal of time and resource.
The tables and graphs can be used to get an overall feel for the data and individual responses can also be obtained in case there are any individual concerns that should be looked into. Reporting A fully charted presentation of the key research findings will delivered by the Director Of FED Thinking displaying all findings and conclusions that can be rain and recommendations for communications going forward. The presentation will be interactive and enable discussion and debate on key issues. Electronic copies of the report will be sent to all those who are interested as well as a leather bound hard copy and 3 further copies summarizing all the findings from the focus groups and the online questionnaire. A DVD with footage of the focus groups will also be available with the final report.