Alignment to Customer Needs is Imperative Today: Parvez Mulla, COO, HDFC Life

With the velocity of disruption ever-increasing, an organisation needs to constantly change the way it looks at its business in relation to its customers. At HDFC Life, we build agility to stretch and align ourselves as per the needs of the customer, says Parvez Mulla, Chief Operating Officer, HDFC Life, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).

Simplification of the insurance process by speeding the approval is pivotal in the digital era. What has HDFC Life done in this regard?

Customers have always demanded and expected simplicity, transparency and speed in their transactions. The definition of simplicity has changed with changing technologies. A few years ago, the approval journey transformed from months to days was considered simplification. Today, simplification is converting a journey of a few hours into one that needs only a few clicks.

At HDFC Life, have always believed in evaluating ourselves against this customer expectation.

Customer onboarding is a significant moment of truth in the life insurance purchasing process. It is important to showcase the ease of transaction and enable a simple and frictionless experience. For this, we have developed a suite of mobile applications ‘Insta Suite’ comprising various sub-modules that facilitate front line sales teams to onboard customers efficiently and effortlessly.

A) Insta Suite

  • InstaMix:Used to create combo solutions covering multiple products to enable easy and insightful presentations for prospective customers.
  • InstaGo:Geo-tagging enabled partner and lead management tool, which can help front line sales to track visits to their partners and customers
  • Mobile Sales Diary (mSD):Sales enablement solution that helps the field salesforce through the core sales processes of illustration creation, quote generation, form filling, document upload and premium collection
  • InstaVerify:A tool for pre-conversion verification used at the point of sale; the tool enables a reduction in the dependency on call centres for call-based verification. Apart from English and Hindi, theapp is available in five commonly used regional languages
  • InstaHuddle:Enables sales team managers to connect with their teams to provide insights on key business topics and enhance their learning and knowledge
  • instA:Virtual assistant that leverages AI, ML and NLP technologies to answer product and process-related questions of our sales and operations teams, enabling them to better serve our customers.

    B) PASA-InstaInsure:We offer preapproved sum assured insurance solutions for pre-defined customer segments through InstaInsure. Using underwriting algorithms and deep integration with partner systems, these offers require minimal underwriting and documents.

    C) API Integrations:We offer bespoke as well as plug and play technology integration solutions based on the digital maturity of the partner.

    D) Credit Protect:Our LifeNext platform, designed specifically for our credit protect partners who offer consumer loans, provides instant services across the value chain including, partner hierarchy mapping, payment modules, Insurance Certificate issuance, lead transfers and end-to-end workflows.

    E) Selfie Journeys: We have a suite of tech offerings, which enable frictionless customer journeys such as Hello Selfie, Credit Mart & other widgets

In addition to the on-boarding process, we have also taken various initiatives to provide a simple and fast journey across the value chain, leveraging our capabilities in artificial intelligence, and robotics amongst others. Personalisation through recommendation and nudge engines is helping us cross sell to our existing customers as well.

F) Frictionless Experience:We have identified various customer pain-points and have introduced initiatives such as Life Easy, an analytics-driven investigation process which enables claims (non-investigated) cases to be settled within one day of intimation. Our industry leading claim settlement ratio is 99.04%. Customer 360, a real-time customer interaction aggregator helps understanding customer needs holistically and offer better service. Life Certificate is a tool that enables senior citizens to provide their survival status remotely through a video, thereby resulting in faster processing of annuity payout while Quick Register is a tool that allows 3-click auto debit registration supported by multiple banks and card networks.

How do you ensure re-imagining the life insurance business using disruptive technology?

With the velocity of disruption ever-increasing, an organisation needs to constantly change the way it looks at its business in relation to its customers. The customer today expects and should get the same experience irrespective of whether he is dealing with new-age e-commerce company or an old established firm in BFSI. It is therefore imperative that as an organisation we build agility to stretch and align ourselves as per the needs of the customer. This is only possible if you keep reimagining your business and embrace the right technology for the right use case.

We are currently working on several projects, which look at different aspects of the customer journey with an aim to simplify and improve the customer experience. We have internally aligned ourselves into different teams – Business Tech team which looks at core tech and the policy administrative systems, ADCAT which designs seamless and frictionless customer journeys, Data Labs which helps all processes and especially customer-facing processes harness the power of AI and machine learning and Business Excellence Teams which helps in driving robotic process automation and process excellence. We are focused on solving the identified customer problems by focusing on a few disruptive technologies. The focus is on customer and not on finding the use case of technology.

Apart from this, we are very keen to learn from the changes in the external start-up ecosystem and our Innovation team works on scouting the best startups we can partner with, to deliver our vision.

Our ‘Futurance’ program along with Ivy Camp identifies startups that work on real business problems and give us scalable solutions.

Robotic Process Automation- a revolution in business process automation. Comment

We took our first step in robotic process automation around 4 years ago. We realised this shift early on and were among the first to adopt RPA to automate our manual, routine processes like data entry, objective decisionmaking, MIS consolidation and data storage. As on date, HDFC life has 200+ bots deployed in over 28 functions, covering many core insurance processes, including few simple as well as many complex processes impacting customers and partners. RPA has allowed us to reduce staffing costs and human error while giving us the agility to scale processes as per demand. We are now exploring the use of voice bots to help manage dynamic call volume for outbound and inbound calls as well as by improving our existing RPA with cognitive technologies such as ML, speech recognition, and natural language processing so as to automate higher-order tasks which, in the past, required the perceptual and judgment capabilities of humans.

What is your outlook for 2020?

  • Technology is continuing to fuel change in customer expectations. Customers are increasingly demanding simplicity, transparency and speed in their transactions with insurance agents/advisers and carriers
  • The shift, though small, will gather pace i.e. increasingly, insurance will be ‘bought’ by customers as opposed to being ‘sold’ by agents. This fundamental shift will force insurers and agents to re-examine their roles in the insurance value chain and become more relevant to the end-customer
  • • Customer expectations of simplicity and transparency will lead insurers to get better at reaching out to the right customers and customising product and service attributes to meet their specific needs
  • Mobility and speed of service demanded will translate into investments in interactive technologies for multimedia content creation and distribution as well as transactional capabilities across multiple digital platforms
  • New-age technologies such as computer vision today can determine – age, gender, BMI etc. with some accuracy from a simple selfie. This will further consolidate and become more accurate. Increasingly there will be non-invasive means to gather data on customer medical health thereby reducing the need for medical tests, which continues to be a significant friction area in the new customer on-boarding journey
  • The increase in voice-based systems – voice-authentication, emotion detection, voice-bots etc. will demand that many more journeys are architected on voice-based platforms
  • The role of a manufacturer, insurance distributor and allied agents will blur. As marketplaces become two and three sided, the emergence of ecosystems will increase and organisations that can develop, curate and manage these ecosystems will triumph
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