How HDFC Life Moved 60% of Its Salesforce to Tablet, Upped Productivity

The life insurance company enabled its sales force with tablets and apps, which helped them to reduce the overall TAT for Cancer Care policies to minutes from days.

HDFC Life is one of India’s leading private life insurance companies. It offers a range of individual and group insurance solutions and is a joint venture between Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC), and Standard Life PLC, the provider of financial services in the United Kingdom. HDFC Life’s product portfolio comprises solutions that span across protection, pension, savings, investment and health. With employee strength of 15,000 which caters to its 64 lac customer base through a network of 414 branches, the insurance company engages with 75000+ financial consultants and over 8300 partner branches as of March 2015. The company distributes its products through channels which include agency, bancassurance, group sales, direct sales, worksite, loyalty, online, and telemarketing. Individual business comprises of business sourced through bancassurance partners, brokers, financial consultants aligned to agency channel and direct sales team. Group sales offers the most comprehensive products for employer-employee benefit schemes. Business challenges ‘There were certain technical and business challenges that came our way but were sufficiently rigorous in defining the problems and articulating why those issues are important,' says Thomson Thomas, Sr VP, IT, HDFC Life. Sales pitch varies from individual to individual which is fine however certain level standardization was necessary, adds Thomas. Secondly, a sales personnel carries papers, leaflets and other working sheets to pass his message to the customer. Carrying a laptop with data card is not always convenient and it leads to non-adherence or delay in many instances. For submitting the supporting documents provided by the customer along with proposal form, the sales person has to travel all the way to branch. Moreover, there is dependency on the branch staff to scan and upload the document for further processing. There is an impact on cost and processing TAT, Thomas says. There was a huge dependency on the call center to enable customer verification post sales. Other challenges with respect to contactability, customer availability, quality of agents, etc further amplify the problem. Any delay in verification has a direct impact on new business TAT and leads to business leakage. Details of the project In the last few years, we have seen a clear shift in customer behaviour and the Indian market especially in BFSI sector where the mobile platform is emerging as the new medium for conducting business and offering services. Mobile strategy has the potential to affect competitive advantage, customer experience, operational efficiency, and profitability in the insurance and some of these statistics support that:

  1. About 20% of Internet traffic comes from mobile banking.
  2. Mobile applications influenced up to 8% increase in customer retention
  3. Companies migrating to mobile solutions experienced accelerated cost savings to the tune of 51%.
Till recently, insurers had restricted themselves to creating applications for quote generation and simple affinity-based product sales. However, the growth in mobile applications and smartphone usage, has forced the insurance industry to take notice of this opportunity. The tablet strategy across the organizations generally revolves around the three key actors – sales force, distributors and obviously the customer. The organisation geared up to tackle this and a very detailed mobility strategy was put in place for each stage of the ‘Customer Life Cycle’.  To begin with, the focus was on the New Business Process right from lead management to document upload including a customer engaging unique ‘Financial Planning Tool’ on a tablet PC. Sales Enabling Tools: Sales force in the ‘to-be’ state is expected to free itself from the ‘brick & mortar’ set up and carry out their daily routine end to end on mobile or tablet. With the reduced need to visit a branch, the productivity is bound to improve. Routine but important activities like sales pitch, proposal form filling, document collection, payment etc. can be managed on mobility Distributor Support: Apart from the above, certain distributors’ needs such as personalized applications, training & learning modules, etc. are few emerging trends. Customer: Either through the above two or their own, the customers are getting exposed to the mobility way of buying and servicing.  As mobile users are already KYC compliant, and with ‘Aadhaar’-enabled bank accounts, piggy-backing on the mobile wallet, mobile banking platform to offer insurance solutions is a cost-effective method to tap a large market. The cost involved for development and implementation is Rs 95 lacs. Setting the Foundation A broad level concept presentation was made to the management to seek a principal go ahead. The CEO took special interest in the project and under his sponsorship, a cross-functional core team was put in place. Core team members from business, technology, process and strategy came together to create the mobility roadmap through a ‘Blue Sky’ thinking process. The process included benchmarking within & outside industry, gauging global standards and trends through whitepapers (Capgemini, McKinsey, EY etc.), extensive vendor interaction, process re-creation and most importantly listening to the end users through a VOC and one to one. The Technology team carved out special roles within the department to cater the new demand. Necessary budgetary approvals were worked out along with finance team to ensure continuity of development. With the mobility road map, budgets and vendor strategy in place, a detailed project plan was created for the set of deliveries. App’s key features
  • Online brochures, leaflets and videos bring necessary standardization in sales pitch and empower the sales person to make an effective sales pitch.
  • Fund performance update helps in providing growth trends for better decision making.
  • Q & I tool generates an illustration of benefits a customer can expect for a product basis the premium amount/sum assured selected.
  • In fact, mSD, the lead management tool integrates with the online Insurance application form (proposal form) and the underwriting decision engine thus making it a comprehensive form submission app operated through a tablet.
  • Unique & simplified form processing experience for Sales representative & Customer through a mobile device.
  • It takes 4 minutes (as compared to 7 days earlier) to fill the form, post which the distributor proceeds to payment and the customer is covered. ‘This is the first of its kind solution in the industry in India, says Thomas.
Business benefits   Number of Policies: 25000+ Cancer Care Policies sourced through InstaLife TAT Improvement: Overall TAT for Cancer Care policies reduced to minutes which was in days earlier Cost Saving: There is already a realised saving of INR 3.5 Crs+ in the current FY and is expected to be over nine crores in next FY Efficiency: 98% Further Requirements (FR) upload is now done only by sales – no support staff dependency Productivity: Access to business information and applications through mobile technologies from anywhere without being tied to a single location increases the productivity. 15% increase in productivity is expected next year across all sales channels Leaflet & Brochure printing reduced by 50% 60% Sales force now own a Tablet for business purpose – new age sales team 3000+ proposals logged in on Tablet – End to end digital experience to customer 75% reduction in Call centre effort on Sales verification – will be 100% soon Change management strategy For a project of this scale, project management is extremely critical and this was meticulously planned by drawing a detailed project plan for each app and embedding key elements for Process Design, FMEA (Risk assessment) and Change Management apart from the regular IT piece. A dedicated cross functional core team gets together during the daily huddle to take stock the progress. A weekly governance meeting with Project Leader and BS&T head is utilised to address any major bottlenecks and progress reporting. The project is further reviewed during the monthly business meeting where the CEO & Executive Committee of HDFC Life is updated on the progress. Apart from this, a weekly status update email is sent to the Management and key stakeholders including the Sales team on the field.


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