Embracing technology to enrich customer experience

We have enabled multiple channels for customer service including branches, call centre, email, Twitter, chatbot, and multiple partner locations including banks, brokers and citizen service centres. We have systems that process these requests automatically without human intervention where possible. This helps us to fulfil customer requests in real-time, says Bharat Krishnamurthy, Chief Technology Officer, Exide Life Insurance, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Technology is changing rapidly. Where do you see Exide Life Insurance in terms of innovations?

At Exide Life, we recognise that technology is the core of our business and a key differentiator in the highly competitive Life Insurance market. We are fast evolving as a digital-first organisation and the key pillars of our digital strategy include, Serving Existing Customers Digitally, Sales Force Automation, Selling Online and providing the best in class user experience We have a dedicated budget for innovation and internally we call this ‘Skunkworks’. Once a quarter, we put together an innovative product aimed at solving a business problem or creating new business opportunities. This is done by leveraging the latest technologies available in the market.

 We have been doing this over the past two to three years and I am happy to see that most of these skunkworks innovations have moved to production and has become a part of the technology landscape at Exide Life. As a digitally obsessed company, we are constantly looking at enabling our customers and employees. We have digitised the entire process on new customer onboarding, from the time the salesperson meets a potential customer, right up to the time the policy bond goes in for printing.

Through Skunkworks, we have created a single mobile application, MyConnect, for our sales force which functions on hundreds of micro-services. MyConnect, our in-house mobile app, which was launched in January 2018, has been a defining initiative for our organisation. Apart from helping solve difficult business problems, Skunkworks also keeps the technology team invigorated and gives our sharpest minds something to look forward to beyond their day jobs.

 What is your company’s approach toward digitisation in India?

Our strategy towards digital transformation revolves around our three biggest stakeholders – customers, distribution network and employees. Firstly, we want to be the easiest company to do business with for our customers, be it during the purchase of a new policy or during the entire lifecycle of a policy where the customers may reach out to us for any servicing need. For our distributors across multiple channels, we aim to equip them with the best possible technology tools that help them sell and service their customers better.

We expect the mobile phone in the hands of our salesforce to function as a complete office that untethers them from our physical branches and allows them to spend more time in the field. For our employees, we focus on technology not just for better collaboration or managing their work-life but also to help them serve our customers better and faster. We measure customer satisfaction at every touchpoint by continuously tweaking our systems and processes with the primary goal of serving our customers better.

How are you catering to the demands of rural India’s insurance needs?

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has mandated that 20 percent of new businesses should be sourced from rural areas. We have been ensuring that we sell our policies as per the mandate to customers in these locations. Apart from that our product portfolio caters to every segment of the population, including the customer in rural areas.

 What technologies have you implemented to streamline operations for the customers?

Our entire technology stack is being transformed to micro-services, which is being designed around customer interactions with the organisation. This helps us provide an omnichannel experience to our customers irrespective of how they reach out to us. We have enabled multiple channels for customer service including branches, call centre, email, Twitter, chatbot and multiple partner locations including banks, brokers and citizen service centres.

Behind the scenes, we have systems that process these requests automatically without human intervention where possible. This is enabled through rules and automated data-driven decision systems. This helps us to fulfil customer requests in real-time in many cases. Apart from this, we have increased the number of self-service options for customers through channels such as our website, customer portal, and bots. These include frequently accessed services such as statements, tax certificates, an update of contact details and paperless registration of automated payments. We have also recently rolled out instant payout to customers for loans and maturity by leveraging IMPS.

What innovations have you planned for the rest of 2019 in terms of technology?

FY 2019-20 is going to be a year of large scale technology-led transformations for Exide Life. We have embarked on a complete revamp of our customer servicing platform. This will leverage the latest technologies to offer a more agile and flexible platform. Monolithic applications are being broken down to containerized microservices. A data lake at the heart of this platform will unify data from multiple disparate sources.

This data will empower a machine learning stack that provides predictions in real-time – either to augment human decisions or in some cases take decisions. We have already empowered our sales force with mobile apps that leverage facial recognition technology to help prevent mis-selling. We will be extending the use of this tech in other processes as well.

We will also be rolling out technology-driven need analysis to help the salesperson to accurately estimate the customer’s needs and sell them the right solution. All these innovations cannot happen with older ways of building technologies. We recognize that IT needs to be continuously modernized to be able to deliver faster and better. To this effect, we will be transforming more teams within IT towards DevOps. DevOps is a set of software development practices that combines software development (Dev) and information technology operations (Ops) to shorten the systems development life cycle while delivering features, fixes, and updates frequently in close alignment with business objectives. We are redefining our SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). More applications will be moved to containers and into CI/CD pipelines. Along with this, we have started working towards building cloud-native applications for specific requirements. We will be increasing the level of automation within IT operations and introduce self-healing capabilities in specific areas. While we do all this, we will continue to come out with one innovative tech solution each quarter.

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