What does the national retailer Big Lots have to do with longtime insurance professional Krishen Iyer? More than you’d think!
The quick answer is that both have taken the opportunity to take deep looks at their mission, their products, their processes and operations, and their audience, and have concluded the customer always has to come first.
Of course, every business out there should be thinking about the people who choose to spend their hard-earned money with them and make sure things are always as easy as possible for them to do so. Even B2B companies should make sure to keep this end goal in mind for their clients.
But as we know, not every business does this well or consistently. Some have older processes that aren’t efficient, some somehow treat customers poorly due to poor training or poor communications channels, some focus more on coming up with interesting products or processes regardless of marketability or usefulness, and some simply lose sight of a customer-focused goal with so many other metrics and messages to manage.
Krishen Iyer, owner of MAIS Insurance & Consulting, has worked in the insurance sector for more than 20 years. He’s worked at all levels, from providing insurance products directly to customers to giving advice to insurance professionals on ways their agencies and brokerages can better market themselves and see success with their customers.
His company, based in Carlsbad, also offers clients assistance with all sorts of useful tools to improve contracting and distribution, as well as technology solutions.
“The goal of our MAIS team is always to identify contracting and marketing strategy issues that need solutions,” Krishen Iyer said. “This requires being consistent while being flexible, especially in changing customer landscapes.”
Comparing retailers and insurance
Krishen Iyer has found that the essential focus on customers is comparable in both organizations, especially when it goes beyond a philosophy or general mission statement that anyone can come up with.
His view has come from years of working with clients and helping them solve their problems. It also has come from keeping an eye on the marketplace and seeing what customers are needing in their lives.
A similar approach was advocated by Amy Nelson, who is the vice president of customer relationship, management, loyalty, and analytics for Big Lots. She shared the company’s focus on customers as a key part of its brand identity at a recent marketing technology conference.
She described how company officials even created a road map of the customer experience, which starts with making sure customers are included at every touch point and then makes sure all staff and all technology move in the correct direction of customer satisfaction.
This approach works at the national level as well as the level of the individual store. It can withstand changes in leadership as well as changes in products and operations.
Amy Nelson said this approach helped Big Lots stay flexible and pivot well when market forces and customer preferences changed due to COVID. It also helped them gather customer data well but also be able to keep customer privacy in mind.
Big Lots successfully blended its marketing analysis and customer marketing functions, which gave the company access to better data, a better understanding of it, and a better ability to apply the data into multiple settings that have the greatest benefit across the board in the organization. Everybody wins.
Krishen Iyer’s approach
Krishen Iyer has also been an advocate of connecting customers with the best insurance products to benefit their lives for all of his professional career. He also enjoys being able to advise his industry peers about how they can do the same thing.
One area he’s particularly excited about is being able to help people sign up for insurance, especially those who may not have thought they could qualify or afford it.
MAIS Insurance & Consulting recently announced it has secured funding to offer low-cost insurance in 23 states through the Affordable Care Act.
This will allow customers and insurance professionals to begin having conversations about what type of insurance options they can take part in. It will bring more customers to the table who may have thought they didn’t have the funds for insurance or anything they had wouldn’t be adequate coverage for themselves or for their families.
Krishen Iyer will provide his clients with more details about a variety of options. He’ll also make sure clients clearly understand the application and enrollment process as well as all sorts of online tools and resources, so they can better help their customers. Everyone wins here too!
He’s currently looking for a second round of funding to continue this effort in more states and reach even more customers.
This will help MAIS Insurance & Consulting gain greater market share and become known as an established industry leader.
The Journey to a Customer-first Philosophy
Krishen Iyer grew up in Fresno, Calif. He earned degrees in public administration and urban development from San Diego State University. Following graduation, he joined the insurance industry, where he worked at a variety of agencies, managed companies, and promoted affiliate distribution centers which offered customers various insurance products and services.
He later founded a company called NMP Insurance/Name My Premium, which offered various products for clients based on how much they were willing to pay. This creative approach earned him a good deal of positive industry attention.
After that, he founded a firm called Managed Benefit Services, which used customer demographic data and past insurance coverage to create solid sales leads for clients in the insurance industry.
This led to MAIS, which helps insurance clients with marketing and operational support as well as general strategies to improve their processes.
One thing he especially enjoys is encouraging established members of the insurance industry who have been in the business to reach out to newer members of the industry to share their expertise.
This support can be invaluable for someone new trying to learn the ropes of a sometimes complex industry. The newcomers benefit from expert advice from people who have worked in this world for a long time.
The industry veterans also can benefit from sharing some of their knowledge and their positive experiences – especially the importance of customers and customer lives, since it’s so easy to get too focused on the products, paperwork and procedures, especially for someone fairly new.
Overall, Krishen Iyer continues to be excited about being able to help people, especially with the addition of offering more affordable options.
Krishen Iyer shares why customer-first approach is essential