Today, it’s hard to image business development without the frontline being involved

In order to tap into the insights generated among all ‘frontline’ employees working in direct contact with the customers, If launched the Viima innovation platform. Since then, over a thousand suggestions have been implemented from the system – improving If’s products and processes, but also creating a working milieu more systematically attentive to employee ideas, says Katri Kennedy.

If has over a thousand employees who talk to insurance customers every day. Doing this day-in and day-out, they accumulate unique insights into If’s products and business practices that others simply aren’t aware of. But with decisions usually made elsewhere, tapping into these insights in a systematic way has presented a challenge for a big company like If.

‘We realised that we ought to listen more to our frontliners. They spend each day talking to our customers, and are thus a source of valuable insights into what works and what does not work with regard to our processes and our offering in general’, says Katri Kennedy, head of business development at If in Finland and initiator of the integration of Viima.

That’s where the Viima innovation platform came into the picture. Working like a huge think tank, the Viima platform provides an easy-to-use tool where all employees can forward their suggestions on possible improvements to If’s products and processes. These suggestions – on topics ranging from insurance terms to work environment issues – can then be liked and commented upon by other employees. When a specific suggestion is liked by many users, it grows visually on the platform, lifting its priority.

Viima was initially launched in If’s Business area Private in Finland, since when it has spread to all business areas in all the Nordic and Baltic countries. As of 2019, more than 10,000 ideas have been generated in the system, and several thousand have been implemented.

Looking back, Katri Kennedy talks of a ‘cultural shift’ when it comes to recognising the value in fixing small but meaningful details in customer processes, but also in internal ones.

‘Whereas internal improvements were previously overseen by those who did not actually use the systems, they now have an important standing in the prioritization list. One cool aspect is that many of the improvements help both customers and frontliners, as well as decreasing waste. A real win-win situation. Today, it’s hard to image business development without the frontline being involved – and for customer centres to work without this kind of voice being heard’, concludes Katri Kennedy.