One of India’s leading insurance companies, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, which offers insurance services to over 1100 towns and cities in India and serves close to 11 crore customers, has been making technological strides in the industry., driving industry leadership, digital transformation, and innovation.
In an interview with CIO.com, KV Dipu, head of operations and customer service at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance talks about centring customer experience in unpredictable times, his leadership mantra, and the importance of maintaining a learner’s mindset to tackle new challenges in business.
Excerpts from the interview:
How have data challenges in the insurance world increased post COVID-19, and how effective was Bajaj Allianz GIC in tackling these challenges?
We embarked on our digital transformation journey pre-pandemic, which meant uninterrupted servicing even as our staff worked from home.
Applying for health insurance used to be a traditional process involving document submission and medical tests. We enabled customers to submit documents digitally, utilizing telemedicine to conduct medical tests remotely, allowing for electronic underwriting of customers, and issuing policies electronically. We implemented ‘claim by direct click’, an option that allowed them to upload documents on the mobile app for reimbursements.
We instated ‘doctor on chat’, wherein customers could avail of consultation with our doctors via video, voice, or chat. This service went beyond core insurance to contribute to customer satisfaction. In fact, a third-party survey on net promoter score in India’s health insurance industry found us emerging on top by a significant margin over our competition.
It is no surprise that our customer grievance ratio dipped by 83% as we shifted to digital tools.
How do you proactively utilize emerging technologies like AI and cloud in handling industry-specific requirements of claims, and battling fraud and malpractice?
We embarked early on a cloud transformation journey, positioning ourselves as one of the industry pioneers. Traditionally, multiple databases are created due to customers joining at different stages of their lifecycle. This causes database disparities with fields of different lengths or data types. The data also arrives in disparate formats, including handwritten text, printed forms, images, video, voice, and text. To tackle this, we converted our siloed data marts into a single data lake to achieve a holistic customer view, seamlessly managing it during high-volume data periods.
We also created a chatbot using AI enhanced with NLP to communicate with customers and alleviate their concerns. If the bot couldn’t comprehend their query, the conversation was seamlessly transferred to a human representative.
AI has simplified the accident claims system. Now, instead of a lengthy surveyance process, customers can simply capture photos of the damage and upload them via the mobile app. Our AI engine, trained with years of expertise, analyses the images, and determines the amount to swiftly process payment up to certain amounts, all within 20 minutes.
What steps are you taking to ensure data accuracy and cybersecurity?
Data is customers’ asset. From a cybersecurity standpoint, we invested in cutting-edge technology to guarantee safety and security. Data access was made role-based, so only that which is relevant is accessible to you.
We placed tools at various parts of the lifecycle to detect suspicious activity, such as a mail with an unrequited attachment. We have a 24/7 Command Centre that monitors and protects the company from external threats.
Further, human errors can lead to major mistakes. To mitigate this, we provide comprehensive training about avoiding suspicious links and exercising caution with incoming emails. We’ve also invested in tools like auto-destruct with an inbuilt expiry period to prioritize data security and eliminate unnecessary data retention.
How do you walk that tightrope of technological and business alignment as tech rapidly changes and business demands increase, and how have your expectations from your resources changed in these evolving times?
Regardless of your company’s position, it needs a startup mindset. It’s not about latching on to the latest buzzword in town but centring the customer when it comes to our advancements. It is also tactically important to involve all stakeholders at every step.
In today’s fast-paced world, it is important to embrace the idea of being a lifelong learner – being a ‘learn-it-all’ instead of a ‘know-it-all’. Bajaj Allianz has a strong internal learning infrastructure where we allow people access to curated courses to upskill themselves.
The evolution of technology has caused a renewed focus on core human traits. While it excels at processing, it may fall short in areas like creativity and empathy. Technology is complemented by our innate human abilities.
As the head of operations and senior president of Bajaj Allianz, how do you balance long-term goals and day-to-day operations?
Cultivate a mindset of balance. Practically, resist the urge to micromanage and instead empower your teams.
As a leader, you need a vision for your future, because thinking about tomorrow means that you can start building for it.
It is also integral to empathize with another’s point of view. I remember a training program where the trainer said, “to be in another person’s shoes, first you need to take off your own.” One needs to step out of their fixed mindset and truly comprehend what their team, partners and colleagues are saying.
Effective time management is integral to maximise productivity. Finally, mastering the art of people management is crucial. It’s a skill you develop every day, as each person requires a different approach. These are the areas I would emphasize when grooming someone for a higher leadership position.
What has been your greatest career achievement so far?
I measure my achievement in terms of the impact on both customers and my team. Nurturing and mentoring my team members have been incredibly rewarding. Their expressions of gratitude bring immense fulfilment.
Additionally, the positive feedback and recognition for our initiatives are satisfying. These moments of appreciation from customers and team members are moments that matter.
Digital Transformation, Insurance Industry