New business opportunities through open and honest dialogue
Meeting partner’s needs here and now will help them grow organically over time. Cecilie Bødtker, Senior Account Manager at AXA Partners Norway, knows what it takes to grow partner businesses. One of her secrets? Asking a thousand questions.
Senior Account Manager, AXA Partners Norway
As a Senior Account Manager, Cecilie Bødtker works primarily with banks; however, she also serves companies issuing credit cards, offering personal loans and, occasionally, automotive loans. She also works tangentially with loan aggregators and some savings banks.
“We typically market payment protection insurance, which helps people with their loan or credit payments in case of illness or unemployment. Similar product to credit cards is known as a balance cancellation which pays off your outstanding balance in case of unemployment and illness”, says Bødtker.
“We have a few really long-term partners in Norway. One of them owed this loyal relationship to our open and honest dialogue. The relationship has evolved over the years and they feel empowered to tell us exactly what they want and exactly where they are heading. They say that we’re good listeners, which has helped to put them on a positive growth trajectory”, notes Bødtker.
“Helping our customers grow requires a deep understanding of their business. This is key and the foundation of everything we do. Only with that thorough understanding we are able to explore the possible new product alternatives and new distribution channels – and find ways to tweak our existing product line. We strive to find ways how our products can help broaden our partners’ offerings. This is what an account manager should do on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis”, remarks Bødtker.
At AXA Partners, we like to work as a cross-functional team, which most effectively delivers preferred expertise and insights. Here, the account manager works as a leader, collaborating with people from underwriting, marketing, distribution, operations and with our partners to meet desired goals.
“Monitoring sales and claims is very important when it comes to managing relationships. On the claims side, it’s about understanding whether a product truly fits the partner’s customer base. Perhaps the claims volume is too high – or too low. We can also closely monitor any complaints filed so that we can quickly address them and make necessary adjustments”, comments Bødtker.
“In terms of larger Nordic partners, we work as a team with other Nordic account managers. They know their country better than I, so it’s natural that we collaborate. You can also draw on expertise from underwriting, product development, finance, legal and distribution. These are the contacts you maintain over the duration of the contract”, says Bødtker.
“During the year, we have planning sessions to align targets for the upcoming year. This helps us to set common targets and goals, and also adjust plans and key actions for growth. But we also look at best-practice cases from the other countries for inspiration. When it comes to the creation of new solutions, we have found that the best outcome will always come by co-creating with our partners”, continues Bødtker.
When speaking about current trends in the insurance market, COVID-19 is an unavoidable topic. A major challenge has been the inability to have physical meetings.
“At the same time, I think simplicity and digitalisation have been on the rise for years. It should be easy for our partners to implement our products – and easy for the end-customer to understand the product, sign up for insurance cover or make a claim. I believe that digitalisation will help us identify even more opportunities for our products”, notes Bødtker.
“We need to keep in mind that our partners’ core business comes first. This enables us to give them solutions that fit seamlessly into their business. For us, it means we have to dive more deeply into the processes surrounding sales and distribution, but also after-sales. We will be much more successful as an insurance company if we can devise a plug-and-play solution for partners. If we help our partners focus on their business by doing what we do best, it will be magical for the end customer”, continues Bødtker.
“I think AXA Partners in Norway is really good at building relationships with people and understanding our partners and their needs. Building an open and honest relationship with the partner and continuing to grow that relationship are major success factors for me as an Account Manager. You don’t do business with a bank, you do business with the people at the bank. And it’s important to have an open and honest dialogue”, says Bødtker.
“We have to begin by asking customers the right questions. This process invariably leads to customers getting the best product for their needs. I really love my job. It’s about getting to know people and building relationships. It’s an amazing feeling”, concludes Bødtker.