Like many companies, practically overnight CNP Assurances has had to arrange for its teams to work from home to be able to guarantee business continuity. This experience, which has been repeated with the second lockdown, has tested the firm’s capacity for adaptation. What has the impact been, and under such conditions how do we change peoples’ relationship to work and improve the customer experience? Hervé Thoumyre, Customer Experience & Information Systems Manager of CNP Assurances, has the answers.

Hervé Thoumyre, Customer Experience and Information Systems Manager of CNP Assurances
Hervé Thoumyre, Customer Experience and Information Systems Manager of CNP Assurances

Did CNP Assurances experience any particular difficulties when introducing teleworking for its staff overnight ?

The move to teleworking came quite naturally for CNP Assurances. By its very nature, our work as an insurer is heavily focused on data and on managing information flows. The scene was already set here over recent years with the increasing digitalisation of our business processes and more recently by the industrial action of 2019, which forced the company to introduce teleworking on a large scale for a while. Our ability to pass this first test clearly demonstrated that our closely integrated teams and our “human -sized” organisation, being neither too large nor too small, were all valuable assets in times of crisis.

Whether in terms of resources, processes or training for the teams, these events have shown that we are ready and set up for remote working at CNP Assurances, with 98% of staff at the head office being able to carry on their duties on a full-time basis during these testing times.

Why did CNP Assurances decide to keep teleworking going after the lockdown ended ?

The reasons for encouraging teleworking are self-evident, including a wish to achieve a better balance between private and working life, the constraints caused by the current epidemic and the environmental crisis. By capitalising on everything we have learned over the recent months, we firmly believe that its continued adoption is guaranteed. 

This experience meant that we were one of the first companies to widen the scope for teleworking after the first lockdown. Following the signature of a new QVT agreement this summer (Qualité de Vie au Travail - Quality of Working Life), CNP Assurances’ staff can now choose to work from home for up to 3 days a week other than during special periods. It’s a great step forward and one which will see us all profoundly reconsider our relationship to work. We’ll need to take a few precautions, however. 

Precisely... How does teleworking change our relationship to work ?

Why come in to work to carry out tasks I can do perfectly well from home? This is a legitimate question, which sheds light on the way we view “on-site” working. Any company which tries to operate using only teleworking would lose a great deal, as this form of working also entails significant risks such as a loss of social contact, isolation or “over-connection” for some staff. 

I also believe that there exists perhaps a more insidious risk: the loss of spontaneity and of the sort of unforeseen events which are all part of company life and which help shape the company’s capacity to innovate. To take an example, when we visit a grocery store there’s a fair chance that our list of planned purchases will change as we go from aisle to aisle because we’ll come across some delicious-looking peaches or get chatting to the shopkeeper. When this same purchasing act is carried out online, the likelihood is that our list will not have changed.

I also believe that there exists perhaps a more insidious risk: the loss of spontaneity and of the sort of unforeseen events which are all part of company life and which help shape the company’s capacity to innovate.

Hervé Thoumyre

Interactions with others encourage us to branch off onto other subjects and to be increasingly bold and creative. We make impulse purchases at the grocery store in the same way that we absorb information and come up with new ideas thanks to random unplanned discussions in the company. More than ever before, the workplace must provide for informal discussions and interactions, encouraging co-construction and creativity. More than ever before, we must ensure that companies are people-centric while at the same time making the most of all the benefits that new technology can bring us. It’s something we’ve been working on for several years at CNP Assurances, and something we now need to move forward with more quickly to ensure that teleworking and on-site working are both used in a meaningful way.

In an age of social distancing, how can a company like CNP Assurances change to improve the customer experience ?

Customers, staff or partners are all looking for the same thing: to be able to access information and services as quickly and simply as possible.

Proposing a comprehensive, multi-channelled customer experience also involves ensuring a flawless staff experience in the company, regardless of the place of work or the channel of interaction used. This naturally requires greater use of videoconferencing and the possibility to do everything you need to do remotely.

Paradoxically, in an age of social distancing the company has no other choice than to open up more and to embrace these new operating methods, making itself more accessible. This requires some adaptation of the IT system.

What are the key factors when it comes to building an IT system which is more accessible for everyone ?

I would say 3 key aspects in particular :

  • We must firstly try to unify the IT system. This firstly involves centralising information by establishing a reference data hub. Secondly, it means the creation of a shared bedrock of simple, useful collaborative resources, which favour innovation. This must be constantly enhanced and upgraded over time to ensure that it keeps up with current usage requirements and practices;
  • We must then open up this IT system in as far as possible and as securely as possible, particularly when considering the protection of personal data. Staff, customers and partners must be able to benefit in the same way from the optional distribution of information and services;
  • But ultimately, I firmly believe that over and above the resources and technology, the optimal use of information depends above all else on the human factor. It’s this added value, contributed by each staff member, manager and adviser which remains the all-important key to a high quality service and customer experience for our policyholders and partners.