Customer is king: people are at the core of reputation

Karen Thomas, head of brand at Old Mutual

Karen Thomas, head of brand at Old Mutual

Old Mutual achieved the highest-ranking score for investment and insurance companies in the 2016 Top Companies Reputation Index (TCRI), which it attributes to three main factors.

“We believe the strength of our brand and reputation stems from our customer-centric approach, our values and our commitment to being a responsible business,” says Karen Thomas, head of brand at Old Mutual.

“Customers trust us to deliver. For more than 170 years, we’ve been giving them peace of mind in times of need and partnering with them to plan and secure their family’s positive future wellbeing.”

Thomas confirms that last year Old Mutual paid out an impressive 99% of life cover claims and 96% of all claims lodged with Greenlight, which includes funeral, disability and severe illness cover. In total, Old Mutual paid out more than R8-billion in claims and R8.8-billion in pension payments.

The success of the company’s brand also depends on it continuously evolving and adapting. To honour clients’ trust and confidence in Old Mutual, it has to continue to offer real value and relevant financial services, which requires ongoing research, innovation and improvement.

“Every year, for example, we conduct a survey that tracks the savings habits and needs of metro working South Africans. The Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor helps us to keep our finger on the pulse of South African lifestyles. It guides not only our product and service development, but also our financial education and financial inclusion efforts.”

Old Mutual’s ranking this year is its highest since the reputations index was first published, and Thomas attributes this to listening more carefully to clients. “We’re very aware of the fact that customers and other stakeholders have many touch-points with a brand such as ours. A key priority of Old Mutual is to make those experiences as great and as efficient, streamlined and helpful as possible. Increasingly, our customers’ views and preferences are determining our overall business strategy. 

“Our customers and their communities really are at the heart of everything we do, and that’s the underlying message of the community-builder projects and volunteering programmes of the Old Mutual Foundation, as well as our marketing initiatives.”

Old Mutual’s funds under management sre now at over R1-trillion. Investments are made in areas that support economic transformation such as education, enterprise development and green initiatives. Close to R60-billion is invested in infrastructure, private equity and impact funds, of which R30-billion is directed towards renewable energy.

“We’re keen to help spread the message that progressive companies think long-term and embed environmental and social issues in their strategies,” says Thomas.

Old Mutual has also built ties to the brand through their support of marathons and other endurance sports such as Old Mutual Two Oceans, Old Mutual Om die Dam, the Comrades and Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, Old Mutual joBerg2c and Old Mutual Wild Series, among others.

“These give us a great opportunity to demonstrate the power of planning, commitment and perseverance, which are essential qualities when it comes to achieving your personal goals as well as managing your personal finances.”

According to Plus94’s matrix for establishing a reputation score, Old Mutual scored very highly in communications, financial performance, governance and black economic empowerment. These core strengths are driving the company’s reputation.

Old Mutual has achieved Level 2 B-BBEE status for seven consecutive years and over the past year the organisation has received prestigious accolades for “influencing change and transformation in the financial services sector” (from Absip), and “excelling at advancing the spirit of transformation” (from the department of labour).

“Trust is a critical component of our relationship with all our stakeholders,” says Thomas. “Without it, we wouldn’t be the market leader in South Africa, with six million customers, and expanding in East and West Africa.” 

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