Healix Risk Rating, the innovator of Healix Travel Black box – an anvanced tool in assessment of medical risk in travel insurance, is planning to launch the product into new market. As one of their appointed marketing consultancy team, we carried out the maket research and formulated a marketing plan for this project. During the implementation of the project, there are two main types of interaction involved that affects outcome of the project: intra-group interaction and client/consultant interaction, in which the later will be more focused.
Based on my experience in this assignment, this reflective report is aimed to express my understanding of the applicability of learnt models and theories in client/consultant relationship as well as the limitations of the marketing consultancy service that we involves in. Key factors that determine a good consultancy project are not only the capability of consultants; financial capacity and readiness of clients; but also a strong collaboration from both sides and great emphasis on actual results instead of heavy focus on scope of work.
Company description The Healix Travel Black Box offers the means for sellers of travel insurance to accurately and efficiently underwrite the increased risk associated to travellers with pre-existing medical conditions. The service is designed to be fully incorporated into the online sales processes and integrated into call centre sales processes, which allow customers to declare health conditions on the phone or online without making separate assessment with underwriters or waiting for doctors’ report.
In other words, The Healix Travel Black Box provides a fully automated assessment and rating of medical risk which can be done in a couple of minutes. The Healix Travel Black Box has come as a global solution to travel insurance industry. The package is available to all regions where the public can directly buy travel incurance. The adoption of this technology is quickly spread across the globe, such as Australia, New Zealand , Canada, Denmark. And Healix Risk Rating in still on the way to seek new market for this advanced product. Summary of client/consultant process
The situation in which our marketing consultancy came is when the company wants to efficiently market and launch the new product Black box into new travel insurance markets. This stage can be defined as Development stage – when client needs help at early stage of a new program. Early intervention of consultant show signs of consultee’s insightfulness and openness (Dewayne J. Kurpius, Dale A. Fuqua and Thaddeus Rozecki, 1993). Prior to the marketing plan, our team had to agree on a country of choice to market and sell the Black box.
And then, we have to make a market research on that target market based on the following topics: (1) market value, (2) existing channels of distribution, (3) consumer buying behaviours, (4) average policy medical benefits and (5) how the handling of pre-existing medical conditions is currently dealt with. After obtaining the understanding of the target market, we worked out on problem identification, particularly the feasibility of the Black box launch in the country. Based on the market research, a outlined marketing plan was made prior to any detailed ones that were done later.
As a marketing consultancy project done by a marketing consulting team, there are two main interaction factors during the implementation that influence the success of the project: intra-group interaction and client/consultant interaction. Intra-group interaction During the implementation, although our team had experienced many difficulties in order to obtain the relevant marketing information related to the topic, most team member is patient and very participative. We did have a clear plan to make the report in order to allocate the work to each member fairly.
In order to make the job more efficiently, each member is encouraged to pick the piece(s) of work of his/her favour. Though the work of the some members is not as expected, however it is controlled promptly, thanks to regular meetings and good communication between team members. Client/Consultant interaction One of the shortcomings for us during the making of marketing plan for Healix is a lack of our understanding regarding the business situation, product development and financial capacity of the client. It is suggested that insuf? ient understanding of the client is key problem of most poor client-consulting relationships (Ford, 1985). Our limited knowledge regarding the product and business condition of Healix Risk Rating may expose us to risk of mis-identification of the real problem and consequently leading to an inapprorpiate marketing plan. On the other hand, ther is a lack of interaction from the client. The reflective practitioner model (Schon 1983) argues problems have to be identified and solutions must be formulated in collaboration between client and consultant.
During the knowledge transfer, the situation of the client should be clearly understood by the consultant, then the consultant will help the client reflect and understand the rationale for the client’s actions (Schon 1983 as cited in Nikolova, 2007). Clients then must work as reflective practitioners themselves. This reflective communication must be exchanged between client and consultant to facilitate expertise sharing. (Ibid p. 301). Schon views that Knowing-in-action implies that consultants would apply their knowledge gained from actiivities they have undertaken or situations they have experienced before.
But for new and extremely sophisticated problems, the reflection-in-action is proper practice that consultant and clients need for the formulation of innovative solutions. In reflective practitioner model, the interaction between client and consultant is seen as a reflective communication. Schon views both consultants and clients as interdependent. Consequently, the relationship between client and consultant improves when expertise sharing and mutual understanding are focused.
Client and consultant should closely collaborate during problem solving process to work the best out of their knowledge and experience. The relationship becomes equilibrated as knowledge and help are fairly exchanged. (Schon,1983) Furthermore, several models have been developed to gain valuable knowledge regarding how to improve cooperation between client and consultant. For example, the interpretive model established by Nikolova is to help clients and consultants to gain a better understanding of their interaction (Nikolova, 2007).
Nikolova suggests that this model would be useful to explain the complexity of client-consultant relationship. This model emphasizes that clients have to be aware of the changing roles that consultants would play during the different phases of the project. This model was built based on prior generally accepted models: Expert model (O’Farrell and Moffat 1991 cited in Nikolova, 2007), critical model and reflective practitioner. It should make consultants and clients highly aware of undiscovered problems through their interactions during consultancy process.
According to interpretative model, it is too simplistic to consider consultants as experts (expert model), impression managers (critical model), and reflective practitioners (reflective practitioner model). The play role of consultants depends on which context the they are in and which problems needed to be solved. For this matter of client/consultant relationship, McLachlin (1999) has several suggestions on some aspects that are necessary for a successful consulting project. Consultants must have strict discipline towards integrity in working for the best interest of clients .
Besides, clients must also participate in the project and prepare a readiness to change. It is key that there are specific project requirements and expectations to be met. However, the Healix consulting project is more task-focused rather than based on expectations of the client. Schaffer (2002) also describes the “implementation gap”, which is the discrepancy between the client’s needed solution and the capability of the consultant to create that solution. He suggests that ? ve factors that most likely lead to “implementation gap” during consulting process: (1) consulting projects are de? ned and priced ased on the scope of work to be done by the consultants or the “product” delivered by the consultant, not in terms of speci? c results to be achieved; (2) project scope is focused mainly on the problem identification and solution recommendation with little consideration for the client’s capability and readiness to change; (3) the consultation aims for a radical solution rather than incremental value (4) The cooperation is more of a sharp division of responsibility between consultant and client rather than a solid collaboration from both sides; (5) instead of leveraged use, the consultancy make labor-intensive use of consultants.
Conclusion As generally accepted, the way we as marketing consultants formulate the consulting process will affect the interaction and relationship between the consultant and client and consequently the outcome of the project.
Based on multiple generally accepted empirical studies and models, it is suggested that consulting will produce good results if possessing the following success factors: Highly capable consultants; Great emphasis on client results/ satisfaction; Willingness from both sides for strong collaboration; Visible executive support; A solution adaptation that fits client capability and readiness; A full understanding of the client’s business environment.
I understand that consulting approaches have to be customized based on out marketing expertise, thorough understanding of the client’s situation, intensive market research on the target market as well as an highly applicable marketing plan . Besides, the costs and benefits of client and consultant should be aligned by defining critical results with clear and measurable short-term goals. Therefore, we admit that our proposed marketing plan to Healix Risk Rating is very preminlinary and subjective due to the simplification of the scope of work and lack of interaction from the client.