Suncorp’s new Customer Advocate prioritises affordability and accessibility
As Suncorp Group's new Customer Advocate, Andrew Chanmugam is an independent voice who ensures our customers are heard, understood and treated fairly.
He was appointed to the role in August 2022 and his background is a unique blend of strategy, customer insights and experience, and innovation.
Mr Chanmugam shared how he feels about taking on the role, stating “I’m feeling very excited – it’s an extreme privilege to be able to serve our customers.
“I worked closely with Matt Leslie and Michelle Bain when they were our Group Customer Advocate, so I’m very familiar with the role and eager to continue their work.
“These are challenging times and as an organisation, we’re seeing many people who are struggling, which means there is also a lot of opportunity for us to do good and deliver better outcomes for our customers.” Mr Chanmugam said.
Mr Chanmugam said his first and most important role is simply to listen and understand what our customers and the community need from a bank and insurer during these times.
“The Customer Advocate is designed to represent the voice of the customer, so it’s very important that much of my time is spent bringing those voices into Suncorp and understanding what’s important to our customers.”
“I’m seeing and hearing that cost-of-living pressures for consumers and small businesses are really starting to bite, and that is sometimes exacerbated by additional vulnerabilities such as domestic violence and financial hardship.
“The accessibility and affordability of insurance have also been consistent themes for some time now, but they continue to accelerate.
“Between skyrocketing inflation and geopolitical instability globally, there’s a conflation of things that we need to consider and adapt to, to continue to understand what our customers need and how we can support them in this changing environment.”
What is a Customer Advocate?
Suncorp’s Office of the Customer Advocate is here to be the voice of our customers within the organisation, and to make sure they’re heard, understood and treated fairly across the Suncorp Group.
With an office separate from the business, the Customer Advocate focuses on advocating and making things easier for our customers, especially those in vulnerable or complex circumstances; driving fairer dispute resolution outcomes; and identifying opportunities to improve our products and services.
The affordability and accessibility of financial services products will be an early focus area for Mr Chanmugam, based on Suncorp’s Financial Inclusion Action Plan, which outlines our commitments in this space.
He also brings a few changes to the role, as the Customer Advocate continues to mature since it was first introduced in 2017.
“There’s an opportunity here to introduce new ways of working, to really embed that voice of the customer through every area of the business, and there are a couple of things we’re doing like introducing a customer check point through all projects,” he said.
Coming from Suncorp’s Technology and Transformation team, Mr Chanmugam has brought over his Customer Insights team, to help him stay close to what customers are saying. He also has his eye on future trends.
“It’s important to think about the customer, not just today, but what’s coming down the pipeline.
“As everything becomes more digitised and we’re facing things like the growth of artificial intelligence and new ways for people to shop or drive their cars, there’s a risk that the social divide is only going to increase.
“But there’s also an opportunity to help design these new solutions upfront, so that we’re closing the gap instead of widening it.
“I’m hopeful for the future and hope to have the chance to influence it for the better.”