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HDFC Life’s CMO setting-up tech capabilities to optimise customer life cycle

HDFC Life is synergising customer experience and business goals and ensuring that its business targets synchronise with customer needs and preferences

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We are living in a rapidly changing world, with quick digital adoption across the value chain. The perspective of customers, distributors, employees, suppliers, regulators, has seen a sea change. Pankaj Gupta, Sr. EVP (Sales) & CMO at HDFC Life defines these changes as synergistic changes and that the entire ecosystem today enables a strategic shift in all aspects of the organisation’s evolution.

HDFC Life, a leading life insurance company, has a range of products that protect customers from the risk of mortality, morbidity and longevity. “At HDFC Life, we recognised the potential of digital transformation early on. It is an integral part of our corporate strategy. Empowering and delighting customers as well as our partners are at the core of our transformation journey. All investments made have been to ensure that we provide a world-class seamless on-boarding and servicing journey on our own digital platforms as well as that of the larger digital eco-system,” Gupta explains.

“We are past the tipping point now. An organisation’s digital maturity and true execution capability is a key differentiator and success factor in the marketplace today, and a mark of competitive advantage. From a marketing perspective, while the traditional channels of print, TV and radio will continue to be powerful mediums of mass reach, digital marketing channels have emerged as a strong customer connector. In light of this digital transformation, exciting opportunities for marketing are getting crystalised across new product creation, innovation in propositions, communication, customer delight, research, engagement, interest generation, and customisation,” states Gupta.

Integrated customer experience

Holistic customer experience is about delighting the customer at every touch point. Gupta is focusing on unifying the experience across touchpoints, offline as well as online. “Therefore, our approach for customer experience is a balanced mix of listening to customer feedback through formal and informal means in as real time as possible, to eliminate pain points rapidly and keep enhancing the user experience,” he says.

Customer retention and loyalty are critical to ensure long term business growth. To drive customer loyalty, they are managing the structured engagement programs in addition to experience initiatives that help them in engaging with the customers at key junctures, as reflected through data analytics and their own heuristics. These engagement programs help HDFC Life establish a deeper relationship with the customers rather than a transactional one. Further, they keep striving to understand their customers better and offer relevant propositions and solutions to them.

Social media to lure buyers

HDFC Life is in the business of protecting lives through the power of Life Insurance and helping individuals live a life of pride. As their tag line says, ‘Sar utha ke jiyo!’.

“As we know, customers today extensively use social media and digital to research and evaluate brands and products before making purchase decisions. It becomes imperative for a brand to ensure a smooth and effective consumer experience that helps build a positive image and drive brand awareness,” Gupta states, adding further, “Social media platforms specifically help build a personality that audiences can engage with in a meaningful manner.”

At HDFC Life, there’s a differentiated focus based on factors like demographics, medium, product, etc. The road map for each social platform caters to the audience behaviour and expectations from that platform. With brand campaigns like Behind the Journey and Bounce Back, the company ensures that these are based on a strong core message that can be expanded on different platforms, and that meets the audiences’ needs and drives awareness at mass level.

User-generated content for strong engagement
“Word of mouth and recommendation by peers are strong nudges for a customer to consider a life insurance product and the insurer brand. User-generated content (UGC) is an important tool to engage customers with relatable, relevant and credible content,” he adds.

One of the HDFC Life’s marquee campaigns, ‘The Memory Project’ is based on the simple idea of enabling a person to share stories of people who have left an impact on their lives. The approach helps the company connect with the customers deeply and create a like-minded community. Each year, they have witnessed an increase in the number of such stories and further, such engagements are then enhanced across digital platforms.

Gupta says, “On Instagram, we talk of real stories of human lives, that nudge and inspire. Our Bounce Back campaign features a brand anthem, performed by young artists like Jonita Gandhi and Arjun Kanungo. This was extensively promoted on social media. We also enabled lip sync to the lyrics and posting of such performances and sharing with us to get a brand shout out.”

At HDFC Life the communication is driven by insights, derived from data, customer research as well as formal and informal feedback from multiple quarters. A campaign resonates with a specific audience only when the insight is sharp and relevant and the message is delivered meaningfully. For sharper targeting, they use deep levels of analytics and segmentation to profile customers and understand their needs. This helps them to break the clutter and deliver heart-warming, relevant and personalised communication.

Technology: A big differentiator and enabler

Emerging tech has positively changed the marketing landscape for sectors including life insurance. Technology helps a marketer to access data in real time, derive actionable insights and deliver contextual and hyper-personalised campaigns.

Gupta says, “As a CMO, the role is to ensure that the creative, data and technology streams are synergised and completely aligned to customer and business needs. Also, a lot of technology decisions happen outside of marketing so as a CMO, one needs to wear the hat of a collaborator to align efforts and ensure buy-ins from across the organisation as well as external stakeholders. I like to think of this as getting marketing deeply integrated in all aspects of the organisation’s operations.”

HDFC Life has taken significant steps to build and refresh technology capabilities and these have been integrated into every aspect of the business. From a marketing perspective, their ability to manage data, nudge customers, and engage meaningfully is possible because of this technology edge.

“It is important to keep in mind data security, scalability, sustainability, and the true ability to meet customer needs while working with emerging tech. We have re-imagined insurance by building the brand experience in an omni-channel environment to fulfil needs that are even unexpressed by a customer, while simultaneously helping us achieve our business goals,” he mentions.


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