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We have seen an increase in engagement on all our digital platforms: Goutam Datta, Chief Information & Digital Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life

Bajaj Allianz Life recently completed 20 years in the private life insurance industry. In an exclusive interaction with Express Computer, Goutam Datta, Chief Information & Digital Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life speaks about the company's digital strategy and key technology innovations that have driven its success story

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As Bajaj Allianz Life completes 20 years in private insurance space, can you share with us the key tech innovations that have driven your success story?
We have been on a digital transformational journey for a few years now. During this time we introduced several industry first technology led interventions, basis the requirements of our customers and stakeholder groups. These interventions have been targeted at providing ease and convenience to our customers and other stakeholders in every step of their journey with us ranging from onboarding to underwriting and sales to post-sales services. Take for example our new-age, first-of-its-kind video-based service i-SERV. Integrated with the 3Vs (Voice, Video and Vernacular), i-SERV enhances the customer experience by manifold, and enables them to get quick resolutions to their queries digitally. Such transformations have been seen across processes including underwriting, customer meetings, policy servicing etc. to enhance customer delight and increase efficiencies.

With the pandemic, customer needs and the business environment went through a drastic change. We needed to introduce technology interventions that were agile to adapt to changing circumstances. We introduced Whatsapp services, which has become very popular amongst customers. Basis customers’ needs, we further strengthened the WhatsApp services by integrating video calls on it through i-SERV video calling service. This has also helped our senior citizen policyholders with their annuity pension claim process as they can submit their Certificate of Existence (COE) via i-Serv video calling facility available on WhatsApp, Life Assist customer portal and mobile app.

Similarly, we have also invested in tech enablements for our Insurance Consultants and partners to help them onboard customers seamlessly. We launched Smart Assist, a first-of-its-kind co-browsing service in the industry to help our sales force and customer connect virtually and avail real-time assistance on their life goals journey, while following social distancing protocol. I’m happy to share that we have received an overwhelming response on all our digital assets over the last one year and a half, including the newly launched WhatsApp and Smart Assist.

What has been the focus of your digital strategy since the onset of the pandemic and its resultant fallout?
Ensuring that our stakeholders were not inconvenienced and ensuring their safety was our first priority. Keeping these in mind, we strengthened our existing digital assets and established new digital touchpoints that helped our customers stay connected with us in a seamless manner. These tech-led strategies have enabled us to stay committed to our customers’ life goals in a safe and smart manner.

Our digital efforts are making a difference, we have seen an increase in engagement on all our digital platforms, across all age groups and locations. I’d say around 60 per cent of our current active customer base is digitally penetrated, as a result of digital transformation journey over the years. We will continue to innovate new offerings which smoothens our customers life goals journey with us.

Have you introduced any interesting new tech initiative for seamless operations during the current times, particularly with reference to hybrid working challenges?
The new normal required us to respond quickly using technology and digital attributes. Over this period, we sharpened efficiencies through innovation. We created customised work from home (WFH) configuration kit for our employees including call-center teams to support our customers and enable them to be on track with meeting their life goals, even remotely. And, for the remote workforce, we provided easy access of corporate applications, for which we tapped cloud-based technology solutions for smart service and delivery.

Further, our continuous listening and understanding customers requirements have helped us introduce industry-first solutions such as Smart Assist and comprehensive WhatsApp services that enable contactless services and interactions with customers. Smart Assist has helped us overcome the limitations of meetings customers’ in-person and helps our sales force and customer connect virtually for real-time assistance to address their needs. Simultaneously we have also trained our partners, employees, and intermediates to ensure these technologies can become an asset to them, as they adopt the digital way of working.

Which emerging technologies will redefine the insurance sector in times to come?
Insurers are actively experimenting with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, chatbots, robotic process automation. This is because our industry is becoming increasingly data-driven, and we have access to a lot of data due to the design of our products. We will be using AI / data-science in a much more advance way than what we are doing now to offer far more personalised offerings. Technology will continue to play a key role in shaping the value companies provide their customers and all key stakeholders.

Do you believe technologies like AI & ML can be game -changers for the insurance industry?
An intelligent AI system wins half the battle, if not more. Employees, customers and partners are more likely to embrace an AI solution that is superior and adds value to their journey. I’ve found that projects that require huge volumes of data to be assessed in order to make one decision are excellent candidates for the use of artificial intelligence. Areas where human decision-making is involved also make close contenders for the use of AI because it can improve the accuracy of decision-making. AI can be useful in customer-facing processes, particularly in chatbots and other intelligent interfaces. The NLP technology (natural language processing), it enhances the bots’ understanding of how customers type or speak, so the response is smarter and more intuitive. For Eg, over the years, BOING our chatbot, has evolved and improved, to better understand the customers. It continues to have a healthy adoption and response (time and quality) has also improved significantly.

What are the major cybersecurity challenges faced by the insurance industry and how are you mitigating the risks in your organisation?
In an evolving cyber security landscape, data protection, governance, and device security requirements are prerequisites. Especially in current environment as significant number of employees are working remotely. At Bajaj Allianz Life, we have a robust cybersecurity policy in place that is enforced by all employees, partners, and stakeholders. We have processes, procedures, and tools implemented to protect computers, servers, mobile devices, networks, applications, electronic systems, software, and information from malicious cyberattacks. Additionally, the organisation has also trained employees across departments on cyber risks and taking preventive actions. We emphasize employee training and awareness, identity and access management with strict access controls, securely encrypt and backup data. To ensure customer’s privacy, we are protecting consumer data through data protection programs. For instance, in our recently launched industry-first service Smart Assist, one of the prominent features we have focused on is data security – the solution is completely secure ensuring complete data protection and verifiable audit trails.

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