We chat to Driverly's Consultant CMO, Steve Pacitto, who shares his thoughts on customer communication and the role of technology in the evolution of communication.
Hi Steve, tell us a bit about yourself.
I started in the advertising industry as a copywriter back in the 1980’s (a golden age) and over the last 30+ years I’ve worked almost exclusively in B2C marketing and communications, predominantly on the agency side, but also, occasionally, client side in recent years. I’ve helped to run several successful agencies over that time, with more focus on strategic and performance marketing in recent years.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen over your career?
For someone my age, the answer is easy, the Internet! It has changed everything. Mostly for good but also in ways that can be a challenge. The immediacy of results and performance can be astonishing of course and we are closer to real 1-2-1 marketing than at any other time. It gives smaller brands a chance to engage in ways that would have been almost impossible before, but it can also lead to an impatience and an over reliance on metrics that ignores some (still) fundamental rules of engagement and brand building with an audience. It becomes easy to confuse action with intent and, as a result, success can be hard to define and attribute. But marketing is only going in one direction obviously.
What enticed you to join Driverly?
Two things. People and product. First and foremost, I loved the Driverly app from the moment I saw it. A really brilliant idea that met a desperate need in the marketplace and one that utilises technology to benefit both the end user and the insurance industry. Then speaking with the founders of the business it was obvious to me that they felt the missing piece was getting the message out there to both the industry and end users that Driverly offered something different. They had put together a great team with a great product and I really wanted to be a part of it.
How important is customer communication to ensure Driverly's future success?
It is vital, not only for Driverly, but for any business with ambitions to be customer orientated. And when we talk about communications, I mean the ability to listen to our customers as real people and not just push messages out constantly or drive users into convenient boxes to enable us to filter them to save us time. What will make Driverly different to other insurance products is the ability of the business to really listen to our customers and adjust our value proposition accordingly. The internet has given us so many gifts, but at the same time it risks making businesses lazy in the way they see communication as something that can just be automated. Driverly has worked hard to avoid that.
What do you believe to be the role of technology in the evolution of customer communication?
To make communication easier not harder. It might sound obvious, but technology should be about improving communication, not just making it cheaper to manage. There is an adage about a brand only being as strong as its weakest point and we are potentially creating weak points in the rush to automate everything. We run the risk of having a world of opportunity with the internet and yet making customers more frustrated than ever before and to feel more distant from brands. What I like particularly about Driverly is the fact that even at the cutting edge of tech, the business still believes in real people dealing with customers.
The question on everyone's lips - will automation replace the need for humans when it comes to customer communication?
It would probably be naïve to say no because there will almost certainly be a developer sat in Palo Alto right now having a conversation with AI that is indistinguishable from the real thing. But, even then, I would still say ‘not yet’. I’ve still seen nothing yet that really replicates the empathy of human interaction. I also think we are still at a juncture where we need to be transparent about dialogue with AI and there is a question mark over how consumers still feel about that. I suspect the change will need to occur on both sides of the fence. Technology will become better and, eventually, consumers will shrug and give in to the process in the absence of any alternative. But not yet!
And the future for Driverly?
There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Driverly is helping to lead the way in terms of how all insurance will be provided in the future. The Internet of Things, machine learning and product personalisation all point to a time when insurance will be structured around real individual, behavioural risk and not simply the amalgamation of demographics and group risk we see today. That will be fairer for consumers and, ironically insurers too. That’s what makes the Driverly proposition so compelling to me.