INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
Interview with Mr. Sanjay Tripathy,
Sr.Executive Vice President – Marketing, Product, Digital and E-Commerce with HDFC Life
1. With the coming of age of millennials, what do you believe are some mega trends reshaping the way insurers connect with customers in terms of customer identification, customer engagement and customer experience?
They form more than 45% of the Indian population. At an estimated strength of 600 million, they are changing the way we socialize, perceive governance and financial constructs. Unlike the earlier generation, they are born into an era of possibilities and opportunities. They are risk takers, have aggressive goals, and at the same time are more integrated with family and country; latter being evident from no articles being written about brain drain from India.
Being digital natives, millennials are comfortable with their personalities being out there in social. They are less likely to be worried about online payment fraud and are aware of the precautions. This makes them easily identifiable beyond demographics. One can know their interests, sentiment towards given topics or brands, values, attitudes and affiliations towards society, economics, finance, politics etc. You can actually do real-time profiling of any millennial and have a customized conversation with them. The ability of any marketer / brand to drive such communications will be the brand differentiator for the next 2 decades.
This is true for all sectors, including insurance. Honest, relevant and real-time conversations are going to drive millennial engagement and loyalty.
2. What in your view has been the impact of increasing access to information for instance via social / comparison sites been on margins and customer relationships? What opportunities do you see as a result of this for insurers?
For HDFC Life, it has been a very positive impact. We are the leaders in insurance ecommerce by a large margin. On most digital / social platforms, we are the leaders. This is because we have embraced digital with all its pros and cons. When we started out, we had a defined guideline that helped us proactively deal with all the pent up complaints and negative PR. We also understood the importance of digital and spun it off into a separate vertical, distinct from Marketing. Today it is an SBU within the org. with its own P&L. Not many companies have been able to achieve this kind of set up.
Overall, it has a positive impact on the margins. Because of our superior product options and large base of social media loyalists, we are able to play the value market and not discount market. Ours is one of the most expensive products available in online, but we have been able to engage with and innovate for the customers better, for them to trust us and conveniently buy from us. For example we were the first mobile responsive site, first to integrate with Passbook, .ICS etc. All this allows the customer to conveniently find us, buy from us, and seamlessly integrate HDFC Life into his daily calendar.
3. In your view, what are some global good practices adopted by insurers to increase customer loyalty and deliver more personal, long lasting relationships?
There are multiple innovations and best practices possible, given the variety of tools being served by all social platforms, e.g. Periscope by Twitter, Custom Audience by Facebook etc. How a brand can weave a good story using relevant tools of each platform to leverage the proposition of each platform / publisher in a millennial’ s life – will determine best practices for each platform.
A case study is #MyTeamMyPride campaign of HDFC Life on Twitter during Cricket World Cup 2015. Using insight that cricket fans will cheer on, bet on, discuss jinx, fears & hope for their team on twitter – we extended our brand campaign #MyFamilyMyPride to cricket. We saw phenomenal engagement and became the 2nd most buzzed brand on Twitter, without spending a penny – apart from team snacks!
Another good campaign is #GenBetter or Generation Better brand campaign to help inspire better health and happiness for all Australians by Medibank a health insurer. The brand surprised tweetple by proactively tagging them when they tweeted of any fitness activity. Soon they created a buzz amongst Australians for leading a better life through outdoors and fitness.
4. How is digital driving agility in the insurance business in terms of bringing innovations to the market as well as collaborating with customers and partners? What kind of new business models or commercial possibilities do you see emerging out of this?
Customers are finding it easier to evaluate their financial needs online. They check with independent sites, friends and financial influencers online for suitability of the product for their given needs. Thus every insurer has to come up with consumer-friendly product and not distributor-focused products.
For insurance and other service providers this means that they’ ll have to revamp their strategy to customer first. This includes products, tying up with online aggregators, building affiliate networks, building & integrating with partners digital assets, getting digital skill sets for marketing, logistics technology etc.
Overall, if insurance companies need to remain relevant in the next 5 years they’ ll have to develop entire digital ecosystems. The commercial possibilities are for all to see given that we have been growing 100% + YoY.
5. What are some of the innovations that HDFC Life has done to drive better customer engagement and experience? Would you be able to throw some light on how this has supported your business growth?
HDFC Life is at the forefront of innovations in digital insurance. We were the first company to have a dedicated customer relation cell for online. This has resulted in better customer experience. We have also developed skills for selling end-to-end 24 products online that are suitable for any life stage. The average, with completion, is about 2 or 3 products. It speaks of the investments we have made in the online channel.
We were also the first to have mobile responsive sites, a multilingual ecommerce site, iOS & Android integrations, interactive financial planning tools etc. All this is with the objective of making insurance jargon-free, easy to evaluate, fun to engage with and available anywhere. Overall FY 14 -15 was a good year for HDFC Life and I believe that there is good evidence that digital had a substantial influence in driving this. The evidence is in terms of awareness and consideration levels for our brand and products especially amongst customers who research online in terms of products and services directed towards digital customers.