"Before, we could only guess, now we know" – or how Elo improves its customer experience through data

Development Director Eija Kaipainen-Perttula from Elo Mutual Pension Insurance Company strongly believes that data enables Elo to offer a superior customer experience to its clients. As usual in this field, analytics and automation are routinely used in investment activities and operative processes, but, traditionally, Elo has not really utilised data in customer management. However, as digital services grow more popular, the significance of customer experience in digital also grows rapidly. “We are in the service business, and in order to serve our customers better, it is crucial that we understand them. Utilising the services must be effortless, regardless of the channel,” Eija states.

Elo started its cooperation with DAIN Studios in 2017. Eija had kept up to date with the development of big data tools, and she had a strong vision on how data could be better utilised also in customer relationship management and for improving customer experience. Ulla Kruhse-Lehtonen from DAIN Studios held a presentation at an event organised by Management Events and gave concrete examples that made Eija certain that the tools were now so advanced that Elo should also take them into use.

Ulla and the DAIN team also impressed her with their experience and concrete approach, and, in the end, DAIN Studios was elected to implement Elo’s data strategy. Elo’s data capabilities were reviewed during the project, starting from the data assets and system architecture up until the organisational competences and processes of data processing. Additionally, the possible use cases were reviewed with the help of demonstrative examples from other operators. “Data strategy work is central to ensure that things are properly thought through. We had already come up with a few use cases, for example in relation to targeted customer communication, but this data strategy cooperation brought up a whole host of new options. Additionally, we gained understanding on how we should renew our operations to achieve our goals,” Eija says.

One end result for the data strategy work was an ambitious goal for using data and analytics to improve customer experience and a list of concrete measures, which should be used as a starting point for the journey toward the goal.

In 2018, the Customer Data Project was launched. DAIN’s team of data professionals was chosen as the main partner, including data engineers, data researchers and strategists. From the start, however, it was clear that close cooperation with Elo’s own team was important. “We felt that the best way to get started quickly was to include some of DAIN’s professionals in the development work and only recruit a few people to our own team at first. We want to increase Elo’s own data and analytics competence and create learning paths for our employees, but growing competence takes time.”

The work was started by designing the architecture, where the team boldly started to implement a customer data platform with the most advanced cloud tools. From the start, the objective was to create a platform that could be used flexibly with many kinds of different data, both structured and unstructured. Eventually Microsoft Azure environment and Azure-compatible analytics tools, such as Databricks, were chosen.

In addition to collecting all data in one place and offering a so-called Customer360 view, the objective was to offer tools for data scientiests for data exploration, sharing code and results inhouse and bringing e.g. machine learning models into practice. “We wanted to move forward from pilot projects and utilise artificial intelligence to truly benefit the customer. This requires productization of the models, and now we have good capabilities for it. The first results have been excellent!” Eija praises.

Leap of faith paid off, Elo customer data now in a cloud environment

”If we had started implementing the customer data program using an on premise solution, we would still not be ready”, Janne Miettinen, solution architect at pension insurer Elo concludes.

Read more about the chosen architecture for the Elo customer data program >>

The cooperation with DAIN has not been limited to just data processing and tool development – the requirements of business have been considered at all times, and DAIN has taken Elo’s organisation to a more data-driven direction with a strategic and consultative approach. Elo’s organisation has received support in a variety of matters, and, according to Eija, help in data privacy matters has been extremely valuable, for example.

During the project, the program has attempted to communicate with the entire personnel the whole time, keeping them up to date on what kind of opportunities for data utilisation will start to emerge during the project. By highlighting the so-called quick wins, we have gained new insights, and a delightful number of needs and demands have started to come in from the different business lines.

The data utilisation processes have been developed in cooperation with customer services, customer management and sales. This is, perhaps, where the major change at Elo has taken place: people have started to understand the value of data and ask questions from the data. “Our eyes have been opened to see how analytical competence can be utilised in developing the customer experience. Before, we could only guess, and now we know,” Eija summarises.

About Elo:

Elo is a Finnish pension insurance company. One third of all Finnish companies and about 40% of self-employed people in Finland have chosen Elo to manage their pension insurance needs. We have been entrusted with the provision of future pensions of around 520,000 employees and self-employed persons, the payment of pensions for around 240,000 pensioners and the management of more than EUR 23 billion in investment assets.

www.elo.fi