Vendor-Partner Management in the times of Covid 19
As important it is to build your digital capabilities, it’s equally important to constantly train the vendors and partners about the changes made in the infrastructure
Lockdown induced due to the pandemic has changed our lives drastically. Schools, malls, restaurants, bars, gyms, offices, to name a few – were forced to close. This led to transforming the functions and operations of each and every sector, where they think about a different approach to sustain in this new environment.
Companies are grappling to figure out a “new normal” for protecting employees, serving customers, and maintaining core operations. Assessing new risks related to Covid-19 is the key to making strategic business decisions in these difficult economic circumstances.
When we talk about insurance, the key stakeholders include employees, intermediaries, vendors and partners who work with us constantly. The greatest challenge for us was empowering and enabling alternative work plans for them so that they could serve the customers seamlessly. And, it’s not just limited to coming up with changes in work plan, but we also had to ensure their health and safety along with adjustments to the new access restrictions- all the while guaranteeing business coherence.
Companies are making changes in their operations and work functions to adhere to the social distancing norms introduced by the Government from time to time. As organizations advance towards new conventions; CIOS’s, CTO’s and CISO’s need to ensure that all stakeholders are well equipped with at least the basic infrastructure mentioned below to function seamlessly:
- A computing equipment with cybersecurity checks issued by the organization
- Collaboration tools for e-meets to enable audio, video, and screen-sharing
- A VPN (virtual private network) that provides safe interface for basic business applications
- IT support team equipped adequately to resolve issues and help all stakeholders to continue to do their jobs remotely and efficiently
Under these conditions, insurers who have invested resources into propelling their advanced digital capabilities will probably be better positioned currently to deliver what’s required for their agents, IMD’s and employees to work without any glitches. Thus, enabling them to offer quicker and timely solutions to the end consumers.
As important it is to build your digital capabilities, it’s equally important to constantly train your vendors and partners about the changes that you make in the infrastructure. Considering that the restrictions due to the pandemic are here to stay for a while, we trained our IMD’s on how they can stay in touch with the customers, how they prospect for referrals, and how they serve customers who might be encountering monetary strain.
This period has encouraged all of us to stay connected even more and provided an opportunity to increase our distribution and reach with the help of Digi-tools. As a part of our Business Continuity Plan (BCP), we ensured vendor and partner management are able to work and offer services to our customers instantly.
Insurance being a highly intermediate driven business model, we worked on streamlining our processes and functions, providing our intermediaries with necessary environment to conduct business as usual. Beyond work, we engaged with our partners regularly and checked on their well-being and whether they required any support from us to work better. We appointed individual SPOCs for our partners at all geographical locations. To stay upbeat, we trained them on the digital front to use digital assets and serve customers. We also conducted many collaborative engagement activities, which brought our intermediaries across all regions together, thus increasing our bond with them and with each other.
I firmly believe that crisis or not, we need to continuously review our operations and processes. It’s the responsibility of the organizations to ensure that their vendors and partners are capable to serve customers in challenging times, by providing them with necessary means to do so. This pandemic has been a learning for all of us, where we saw remote working adopted at such a mass scale requiring rejig of operations. We need to identify the loopholes and resolve them, so that tomorrow if such an event occurs, we are prepared to tackle it with our partners in better way, thus supporting our customers.
Authored by K V Dipu, Head – Operations & Customer Service, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance
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