Digitally-enabled Technology to Positively Impact Industry: Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance

Faster exchange of information, consistency and transparency of information must

Shalabh Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Co.

When technology is combined with digital customer interfaces, it results in faster exchange of information, consistency and transparency of information. This is the belief of Shalabh Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Co. Excerpts from an interaction:

BW CIO: Please tell us about some of the new services the company has adopted for customer service (making services digitally accessible).

Shalabh Saxena: We have introduced a series of digitally-enabled services to meet the customer’s needs thus ensuring convenience at all stages. The various servicing avenues are equipped to handle servicing requests digitally thus ensuring faster processing.

Servicing avenues introduced for customers are:

* Video call service - A first in the Life Insurance Industry, customers can interact over a video call for any service.

* Service through social media - Customers can now liaise with the company through  Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for their servicing requirements.

* Dedicated web assist on customer portal to provide assistance through voice and text bubble based website walkthrough.

* Premium payments and service requests processed real time over call.

Apart from these, to increase the engagement levels of the customer and to strengthen long term relationship, the preferences of the customers are captured at various touch points during his customer life cycle so as to give customized and preferred solutions.

We have an end to end customer cycle mapped digitally which includes stages from Prospecting - sales - on boarding -service. This has helped us give a seamless experience to the customer through a technology enabled process.

BW CIO: What are the industry trends for a constructive life insurance business environment covering technologies and customer support?

Shalabh Saxena: Technology enhances availability and reach to the customers apart from increased efficiencies from a company’s point of view. When technology is combined with digital customer interfaces, it results in faster exchange of information, consistency and transparency of information.

A few technology trends, which are poised to support life insurance business are:

* Training and communication with the distribution force – Various learning management solutions & training needs are being met through mobile based solutions. This has led to the distribution channels efficiency increasing while still ensuring that the content management and communication across the length & breadth of the country is standardized and efficient.

* Implementation of Blockchain – Industry is already testing this in their business environment. It will enhance quick transfer of information, bring in transparency and increase agility in the areas of Claims, Underwriting and fraud prevention.

* Customer segmentation through predictive analysis – Better understanding of the customer through behavioral insights (driven through technology) would ensure sharper customer segmentation and thus a customized solution delivery. This would align with the customer needs and bring down the distribution costs substantially.

* Chat bots and AI-led applications - Combining the intelligence of machine learning and artificial intelligence such as chat bots is one of the best ways to directly reach out to customers. This is being used in meeting the customers servicing needs while still being available 24*7*365.

* Customer engagement and C-Sat - Targeting customers with engagement across digital channels, measuring customer sentiment to gain a deeper awareness of their needs and accordingly provide them with personalized solutions.

* Wearable devices and their utility are being tested in the Indian market as well. Health insurance companies are experimenting this for offering an enhanced solution to their customers.

BW CIO: How is the technology wave and the unavoidable digital threats in insurance business? How is the company coping up with external digital threats?

Shalabh Saxena: Insurers are working on primarily Perimeter, Network and Endpoint to ensure information security. Some of the steps which Insurers are already taking to control risk while still  ensuring that the technology used is ultimately meeting the business needs are:

* Focusing on intrusion prevention system
* Link load and domain load balancer
* Fortifying enterprise firewall
* Continuously enhancing security controls at all levels
* Secure all customer facing applications
* Continuously improve perimetric security
* Network security through firewalls
* Restricted software downloading option to avoid any software licensing and virus control issues
* Web filter and proxy server
* Email security and data leakage prevention (Awareness amongst employees on company‘s information security policies and standards).

In this technology-driven world, prevention is better than cure, hence, utmost care needs to be taken to ensure that the systems are ring fenced well. The cost of a breach is immense, and hence, security and control are of utmost importance.

BW CIO: Illustrate some industry initiatives for real-time customer experience, which will shape the mechanism?

Shalabh Saxena: The country is moving towards becoming a digital enterprise. Insurers have realized the opportunity as people are embracing technology real fast. The consumers are now more receptive to technology and are moving away from the physical world to the digital world.

Self service through digital platforms, use of natural language processing technology and other innovations for optimized service infrastructure, engaging customer through the life cycle for enhanced loyalty are areas that will see significant development over the next 2-3 years. These have a huge value both in terms of the bottom line and C-Sat levels.

BW CIO: How are you streamlining data analytics and sales processes through well established network within the Bancassurance model of operation?

Shalabh Saxena: We are a pure bancassurance company. With our distribution spread across the 9,500 bank branches, it is absolutely critical that we work on system integration with our banks. The customer's end to end needs from product offering to the service should be fulfilled at the bank branch and that has been the focus of our technology team.

We have developed and launched a state-of-the-art 'Distributor App' for our partner banks staff wherein they have an end to end view of a customer’s policy and service requirements. Apart from this, we have a comprehensive portal which is accessed by the banks staff to stay briefed on the various product and service solutions by our company.

Getting a better understanding through the relationship that the customer has with banks is our fundamental priority. A concerted effort to get customer insights and offer them need based solutions is our sole priority and the efforts of our organization converge on achieving this objective.  

BW CIO: How is 2020 going to be the best that digital business can offer to industry and customers?

Shalabh Saxena: Digitally-enabled technology will positively impact the industry in the following four broad areas:

* “Spray and Pray” is passé. One size fits all is over and the era of customized solutions will drive the next phase of growth.

* Companies will target and reach out to customers through targeted contextual marketing. Budgets for marketing will focus on niche segments and social media will be the primary driver.

* Customer engagement and activities driving engagement will be focused by all companies albeit digitally. This will ensure a consistent connect with the consumer thus giving an opportunity for them to build loyalty long term.

* Service digitally – This is inevitable as the demographics of the country and the general environment is favorable for this to thrive. Self service through IVR and portal, artificial intelligence, machine learning, chat bots, etc., will proliferate the landscape and will add a lot of value to the consumer.


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