Silvia Heras (Zurich Insurance): “With ‘Imagina’ we have placed all employees on the same level”
Building a common space where Zurich Insurance employees and agents can contribute and build ideas to improve any aspect of the company and, more specifically, improve customer service.
That is the aim of ‘From employees to customers’, the corporate innovation program that Zurich Insurance has launched in its Spanish division as a pilot experience to create a culture of open collaboration throughout the company.
It does so through ‘Imagina’, a community that has helped the company’s management gain credibility, as it is committed to listening to ideas shared by employees and co-created in the community, while also implementing them quickly.
Silvia Heras, Director of Communication and Strategic Marketing at Zurich Insurance Spain, explains the impact this innovation management software has had on the company’s culture and projects.
You can see a summary of the interview in the following video.
Innovators (I): What is the main challenge you faced when you introduced ‘Imagina’ in the company’s culture?
Silvia Heras (SH): One of the most important challenges was getting participants to give the project a vote of confidence. We had to overcome that initial reluctance among employees and suppliers, who wondered if the community would be a place to contribute ideas, or to submit complaints.
I: The implementation of ‘Imagina’ meant that all employees, regardless of where they came from, could participate in innovation. How did they respond?
SH: Very well. A week after the community’s launch, 90% of employees were registered. I never would have dreamed of that, it was really impressive. Right now, we have over 700 ideas, of which 12 or 15 have been approved and are being implemented.
I: In the case of employees, what are the benefits of banking on active listening?
SH: It has very much reinforced their engagement. Everyone likes to participate, and it’s great to know that your idea receives recognition, and is implemented to help all of your colleagues [find out here how ‘Imagina’ has led to a 34-point rise in eNPS for Zurich Insurance].
I: One of the goals for this project was to do without the limitations that may appear due to professional rank. Did you achieve this?
SH: Yes. ‘Imagina’ has managed to connect employees and agents directly–they are our ideators–with experts and members of the Board of Directors, who finally approve proposals. In this sense, the project has eliminated barriers and promoted transversal communication throughout the company.
I: Do you have any recommendation on how this type of program should be implemented?
SH: In our case, we opened ‘Imagina’ to participation from everyone in the company and that would be my first recommendation: place everyone on the same level. In truth, it doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, anyone can have a brilliant idea.
I: The arrival of ‘Imagina’ has caused a cultural change among employees. Is that also the case with the Board of Directors?
SH: There is a strong commitment among the Board to support the initiative. Also, approval and implementation of ideas is being very quick and this, among other advantages, always gives you more credibility.
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Monika Schulze: “To offer customers a better service, first we need to get employees on board”.
Silvia Heras (Zurich Insurance): “Listening to our employees has allowed us to gain credibility”.