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PNB MetLife’s e-Branch initiative cuts customer acquisition costs by half

The cost of issuing a policy through digital mode is significantly lesser than the cost of policy submitted through the conventional mode, EC’s Abhishek Raval, speaks with Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife India Insurance

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The efficiency of the Insurance business depends on how the distribution architecture is strategized. insurance company has bancassurance, agents, national distributors, brokers, aggregators etc as channels, who work as distributors / intermediaries. primarily from in industry trend, bancassurance and the agency channel takes most of the load.

On the bancassurance side, PNB Metlife has three major partners- Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank and Karnataka Bank. On an aggregate basis, PNB Metlife sells policies through close to 10000 plus branches, which belong to these banks. Their presence is in Tier- 1,2 and 3 cities of India. Moreover, PNB Metlife has more than 100 own branches.

PNB MetLife to have physical presence in all the bank branches is disproportionately inefficient. But to complement & supplement the physical presence with the digital model can prove to be efficient. That is the digital strategy. Eliminate the blur between physical and digtal world Thus, PNB Metlife launched an digital platform – an app, e-Branch (in early 2016), which helps the distribution fraternity to do customer acquisition. There are 2500 ipads in circulation being used by the sales force. Insurance sourcing process is highly document and data centric. It runs 24X7, in an offline and online mode. “This is only a part of the virtual branch’s digital strategy. We will also soon launch initiatives on digital servcing using the app and also help the distribution fraternity to track their KPIs online,” says Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife Life Insurance.

e-Branch: Benefits
Growth in business has been 20 percent YoY inline with industry trends. It’s also interesting to note that in the Calendar Year (CY) 2016, when e-Branch was launched, a total of over policies were sold using the platform, which increased to more than in the 2017. The cost of issuing a policy through digital mode is around significantly lesser than the cost of policy submitted through the conventional mode.

The e-Branch app eliminates the physical travel that a typical life insurance form has to undergo before it’s submitted to a branch for downstream processing . In the current scenario all of that is eliminated and the process is done within minutes. This facility is available, both online and offline.

“As a result the policy issuance time has been reduced to about hours from weeks. So, in case if the applicant has to go through the medicals, the issuance TAT will be higher,” informs Das.

Digital versus Brick and mortar
High processing cost per application: The conventional way of processing involves many manual activities.

eBranch has eliminated the following activities which were involved with processing of insurance proposal :

      • Physical data entry replaced with real time data flow from tab
      • Document scanning and image indexing – eBranch uses the images uploaded by the sales team and automatically creates index and structure for storage of documents
      • Payment receipt was a manual process. For majority of eBranch cases sourced through bancassurance partners, the payment details are auto updated in policy admin system and hence not requiring manual intervention.

Very high TATs for issuance of insurance policy: As per the internal study conducted from the time of first submission of application form to issuance of the policy, the average time was around 15-16 days. This delay was on account of multiple rounds of rejection and time taken to move physical files.

“With eBranch, the rejection rate has become half and the average TAT for issuance of cases submitted through eBranch is 70% lesser than the issuance TAT of cases submitted through the conventional channels,” says Das.

Enable business at remote locations: PNB Metlife’s distribution network is present in remote locations without poor infrastructure and internet connectivity. These locations are more than hundered kms away from nearest branches. Sales team had to travel overnight to submit cases. The challenge was to reduce strain on the sales team or expedite processing of the cases from these locations.

eBranch is a 24X7 virtual branch and the sales team can complete the whole on-boarding activity by merely using the tab. The offline capability allows users to complete most of the journey without worrying about the stability of net connection.

khUshi chatbot
The Khushi chatbot has its origin from the requirement to make superior customer experience more scalable to go beyond the conVRse, Virtual Reality (VR) based customer service platform launched by the company in December 2016. “VR is very resource intensive and so in order to provide customer service, in a self service format, at the click of a button on the mobile, chatbot was the right choice,” says Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife.

The chatbot is avery light application and can be downloaded on any android phone. Khushi is an AI chatbot that solves repetitive customer queries like the next premium payment, fund value, contact details updation, policy maturity date, policy application, policy features, etc.

The chatbot can solve non-linear queries too. Khushi can predict subsequent queries over and above the query posted by the customer. For e.g. in case the premium date happens to be on a sunday, khUshi will inform the customer to pay on the immediate dates, before and after the due date. Another example can be giving out answers in advance without the customer having to ask those questions, which are quite obvious. If the customer query is about the next premium due date, his immediate next question will be about the premium amount and also about when will the next premium be due. In case of a typical call center response, it will be asked as multiple queries but khUshi will bundle these answers without the need for the customer to ask. The conventional chatbots provide resolutions that are prefilled in the application and it will not inform the customer that it’s a Sunday.

khUshi runs on ‘Akeira’, the core AI framework. The chatbot is build using the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), wherein based on the customer’s query, it connects with services from various systems. The bot is connected to the core policy admin system and the CRM.


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