Keiretsu Whole Products

An auto insurance company can make you feel loved.

geico-hand-holdingA recent event caused me to interact with my insurance company (Geico) to have some minor repair work performed. Geico does many things right, from well architected web site that deliver simple yet effective customer support, to claims agents who are fast and efficient, to non-offensive lizard spokesanimals. One element of their success is delivering a whole product on the ground by forming keiretsus with other companies.

In this instance, I arrived at the designated body shop knowing that Geico had set my appointment and arranged for a free rental car. What I discovered is that Geico identifies service providers and helps to manage their cooperation for Geico customers. Body shop are selected to assure great service and quality work and the car rental company (in this case Enterprise) is selected for the same reasons. Enterprise is given a desk at the auto body shop, so I was in and out within minutes.

More importantly, the body shop personnel and the rental car agent’s attitudes and professionalism matched what Geico delivered. In other words, the Geico brand was reflected through their selected partners. All aspects of Geico’s whole product – insurance, claims, repairs and related services – are managed through local, hand crafted keiretsus.

(“Keiretsu” is Japanese for a conglomeration of businesses linked together to form a robust corporate structure.)

Here is the problem most companies, including Geico, face. Their whole product – goes beyond themselves. They must partner with other companies to deliver everything the customer needs, but also everything the customer wants, even when customers don’t know they want it (I was expecting the typical rental car shuffle, not on-site service). In the B2B tech world, “strategic alliances” are essential, but few companies go beyond functional integration and co-promotions. Such light-weight relationships fail to deliver the whole product in a way that truly delights the customer.

Hand-offs are different than hand holding.

Geico manages their keiretsus as part of managing their whole product. Your attention to detail concerning your product should extend to all aspect of the product, regardless of who delivers each piece. This adds work but also assures customer loyalty, which we all know increases the life time revenue stream and good buzz.


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