Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
Laura Mazzuca Toops | May 27, 2020
Marissa Buckley is vice president of marketing and brand experience at Security First Insurance Company, where she is responsible for developing and implementing the company's customer experience strategy, from defining consumer journeys to evaluation.
She has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing and technology, with experience in database management, analytics, and software development. She managed the development of the nation's first social media disaster communications system, integrated with IBM content analytics.
Buckley has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University.
You started your career in designing for the Daytona 500 and NASCAR. How in the heck did you end up in insurance?
It’s been a very unique and memorable journey. My time working for International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR was more than 20 years ago at the start of my career. Design is my passion and as I was obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I learned about other study programs such as computer programming and digital media. The blend of technology and creative content to create animations was fascinating and something I felt even more passionate about than any static designs I had created in the past. I saw technology as a platform that brought design to life and I dove in head first, changing course in my degree program from business administration to study computer science.
Thankfully, the world of marketing and technology continued to converge and many opportunities were being created at the time. My unique educational background positioned me to fill the gap in marketing technology positions that were being created across industries. Later, I accepted a new position as a digital marketer for a homebuilder and helped build a CRM tool for that company. When the real estate crisis hit in 2006, I endured it for one year and then saw the position at Security First open up.
I’ll never forget what my boss told me at the time when I mentioned to her that I was going to apply for the position. She told me I was going to get bored and questioned how much fun it would be working for an insurance company. I’ve been with Security First for nearly 12 years and I’ve had the opportunity to oversee the development of mobile applications and all of our customer- and agent-facing applications. We’ve built corporate blogs, invested in multimedia advertising, and created a handful of virtual assistant services (chatbot) with some incredibly talented people and partners. It’s been a more exciting career than I could have ever imagined and I’m very thankful that I took the risk. At times, I wish things could slow down and get a little more boring!
How have customer expectations and demands changed during the course of your career, and how much is enabled by new technology?
It’s impossible to keep up, but I enjoy the discovery of the change through research and user-behavior analytics. My team often highlights new data and trends we’re seeing across applications that create opportunities for us to engage with people in different, more meaningful and relevant ways. Initially, marketing was largely centered on brand awareness and lead generation. Now it’s become more about building relationships through carefully orchestrated digital experiences that not only delight the customer, but meet business goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic is upending business processes as well as customer expectations. How is your company responding to these changing needs?
We have completely transitioned employees to work from home and we are using collaboration technology to continue operations. We’ve also shifted responsibilities for a few employees whose jobs changed significantly as a result of the virus. The company has been very successful at quickly identifying ways to modify the business to not only maintain operations, but find new ways to achieve key goals.
I am working very hard to remain consciously aware of how this pandemic has changed the way we operate and the relationships we have with one another. I know there are things we’re learning today that we will be able to bring back to the office. The use of collaboration software and technology that allows people to connect and get quick answers is different than how we connected in person. Bringing this technology into the office for the long term will require us to think a little differently about how we equip our teams. Personally, I’m looking for ways to manage the inundation of digital pings that have resulted from using new technology such as Microsoft Teams. It’s one thing to check your email periodically throughout the day to filter interruptions -- now we have new channels feeding into our day-to-day jobs. It could make things a little slower moving if we aren’t consciously aware and managing these new channels successfully.
How do you think businesses will balance the “personal touch” in CX with the use of AI, ML, and other tech tools?
Technology creates a personal touch that isn’t possible with human-to-human connection. We can gather insight and tailor experiences in the right context in seconds. The only way we can create meaningful connections with users is through the diversity of the team, with talent ranging from creative writers to software architects. When these individuals work together in the right way, they can achieve the unimaginable. That’s not an easy thing to do when you aren’t building an organization from the ground up. That’s what you need to balance—the diversity and talent of the team.
What are the biggest challenges your company is facing right now, and how are you helping to get through them?
Florida’s homeowners insurance market is tumultuous, wrought with insurance fraud and a highly litigious environment. Our biggest challenge is lowering the severity of claims and achieving profitability. The entire organization is focused on mitigating fraud and processing claims as efficiently and effectively as possible.
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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
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