With just weeks left before the go-live date, MetLife Spain had a problem: Its massive rebranding project, prompted by its acquisition of the American Life Insurance Company (Alico), was stalled.

“We had people doing things that they were not supposed to be doing; we had people from IT building documents inside the AS/400. IT people are meant to do other things,” says Nicolas Afonso, organization and analysis manager for MetLife Spain. “It was very difficult and everyone had other business going. Also, everyone thought ‘I am not adding value with this project.’”

When Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, an extremely customer-centric company, bought Alico, it had no presence in Spain, so increasing brand awareness was critically important. And Alico was tasked with making the best use of Snoopy, MetLife’s brand ambassador, and recreating the MetLife look and feel for 200 to 300 documents and the 20,000 welcome kits the company mails monthly.

The initial three-month timeline for the project had seemed ample to simply reformat the documents, Afonso says. However Alico had multiple business areas, each with its own processes and requirements for creating customer documents, and each pulled data from as many as four homegrown AS/400 systems, some of which were more than 10 years old.

“In some channels, we had the documents generated by the AS/400, and that is not a very good tool for customer communications generation. In some other channels, we had another system. And in others, we had [customer document creation] outsourced,” Afonso says. Frustration mounted and with the go-live date looming, the project stalled.

“We had to rethink everything and present this as a solution that helps everyone by centralizing and standardizing all of these processes,” Afonso says. “So that’s when we started calling this not a rebranding project, but a customer-communications management project.”

A steering committee was formed and a business case created that demonstrated the costs of maintaining the ‘as-is processes,’ was higher than the cost of purchasing GMC Inspire, from GMC Software Technology AG, reengineering and internalizing the customer-document creation process. As a result, the perception of the project also changed to a high-value project from a low-value project.

“One of the biggest capabilities and differentiators that GMC Inspire gave us was the ability to differentiate the building of the document from the printing, handling and sending,” Afonso says. “This allows us to keep the core value, the managing of the brand, inside. We can build the documents and put Snoopy where we want according to all our marketing policies. It also allows us to keep external all the noncore processes, such as the printing, handing and sending.” And, by internalizing document creation, Afonso says the company could be confident of knowing exactly what customers will receive.

Using the GMC Inspire solution, MetLife Spain generates and sends a PDF to a selected vendor for printing, packaging and mailing directly to the customer. “We can send it all to one vendor instead of using six or seven, so we had a lot of savings there,” Afonso says. Plus, the ability to create the customized documents internally and send them out for printing offers MetLife greater independence and negotiating power.

Before GMC Inspire went live, for example, vendors essentially held the process captive. “To change vendors was very complicated. We had to get another vendor to understand the business, start generating the documents, and see if they understood what we needed: crossing correctly the files with the templates and everything. And now, with this tool, we do that. If some vendor calls and tells me they need to increase the cost, I can change that vendor in 24 or 48 hours,” Afonso says.

Within the GMC Inspire tool, data is extracted from the legacy systems and reformatted, and then the layout template is built by a two-person team. “You don’t need an IT guy to use it. Someone with very little knowledge of IT can get into the tool and manage it,” Afonso says. “Here’s the letter, here’s Snoopy, the fixed text, then the variable text, like the name of the customer,” Afonso explains. “You mix those layers together to get the final result. That’s all in the tool, and you can decide whether you want to send it to a vendor for printing, or send it by e-mail or SMS or anything else.”

Afonso says that with help from GMC, MetLife Spain was able to create the necessary templates, source and transform the necessary data, all within six weeks. “When the time was short, GMC helped us, but we could also incorporate people from other areas. And in one day or two, they had learned the tool and started using it. That was a surprise. Another was that we actually did it in six weeks.”

Selling the project and the necessary change management was easy, Afonso says. “Now we have two people for the whole company building these documents. That’s their business. It’s what they like to do and are here for. That was one of the biggest changes.”

Inspire also will enable MetLife Spain to prepare for multichannel communications, Afonso says. “Last year, if someone came to IT asking about multimedia support, we would have gone crazy. Now we can take something to be printed and send it in an e-mail, or post it to a Website, or whatever. It’s just a matter of working a bit more with the tool.”

(Photo Courtesy Thinkstock)

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