Insurance category will transition from push to pull centric: Chandramohan Mehra
Bajaj Allianz Life is one of the leading private life insurance companies in India. The company is a partnership between two powerful and successful entities in their own right – Bajaj Finserv Limited, one of India’s most diversified non-banking financial institutions, and Allianz SE, one of world’s leading asset manager and insurer.
Commencing its operations in 2001, Bajaj Allianz Life has in less than two decades expanded its presence across the country. It serves millions of customers through its 556 branches, 80,000+ agents (as on 30 June 2020), and a comprehensive set of trusted partners and via its online sales channel. The company’s brand promise of ‘Life Goals. Done’ drives it to launch innovative insurance solutions, including the revolutionary ROMC (Return of Mortality Charges), a feature in some of its new-age ULIPs, and thereby becoming the first company to do so. Bajaj Allianz Life has constantly transformed to offer tech-enabled state-of-the-art services to enhance customer delight.
During the pandemic, the company geared up with their smart digital offerings to cater the insurance needs and voluminous post policy services, which customers could avail from the comfort of their homes. These sustained and committed efforts enabled Bajaj Allianz Life to grow by 9 per cent in individual rated new business premium, as compared to overall industry growth rate declining by 10 per cent, YTD August FY20–21, over the last year. The renewals were also encouraging as they grew by 23 per cent over the last year.
In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Chandramohan Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life, speaks about the overall market sentiments in the life insurance sector and how his company is geared to meet the many challenges that the industry is facing.
The pandemic has disrupted globally and there is some kind of fear in people’s minds. Has the pandemic prompted people to protect themselves and go for life insurance covers? Did you see any surge happening for Bajaj Allianz Life in terms of enquiries? How did you navigate during these times and recalibrated your marketing strategy to address the challenges and plan for the new normal?
Risk is a new reality. The Risk Mitigation mindset amongst customers have led to pure life insurance and health products taking precedence over long term savings products. Of all financial instruments, customers’ willingness to continue and increase life insurance and health insurance cover is at the highest. To stay aligned to the new mindset, we refreshed our brand narrative while keeping the brand essence of life-goals enabler. During the pandemic, we geared up our smart digital offerings to cater the insurance needs and voluminous post policy services which customers could avail from the comfort of their home.
These sustained efforts enabled Bajaj Allianz Life to grow by 9 per cent in individual rated new business premium, as compared to overall industry growth rate declining by 10 per cent, YTD August FY20–21, over the last year. Our renewals have also grown by 23 per cent over the last year.
Overall, there is a spike in the e-commerce business, especially for essential goods. Have you witnessed a spike in people opting for life insurance also through online and how are you leveraging online to promote your insurance products?
We have seen a rapid acceleration towards adoption of digital modes of the entire customer journey by customers, agents and partners. The transition to digitally-enabled customer journeys has, in fact, been very swift. Digital transactions on our self-servicing portals, App and Chat Bot Boing increased by 82 per cent during Q1 FY20-21 in midst of the pandemic. Furthermore, we recently launched one of the most innovative and relevant digital solutions developed during these times, called Smart Assist. This revolutionary tech service enables customers to connect with the company through secure screen sharing, and avail virtual assistance through a range of services – from getting form filled to receiving expert guidance on products. Smart Assist lends an increased transparency and security during the buy journey, and hence, found favour amongst its users.
You have signed up Ayushmann Khurrana as the brand ambassador. What was the criteria to select him and what kind of connect did you see him with the brand? How do you plan to leverage him apart from the usual advertising campaigns?
Ayushmann Khurrana scores high on the attributes of relatability and likeability, amongst his new age peers. He embodies our brand ethos of trustworthiness, innovativeness, authenticity and responsibility. As our brand ambassador, he will promote our smart products and services across offline and online platforms.
How has digital helped you stay engaged with your business partners and your sales agents during the lockdown? How are you keeping them motivated and sharing knowledge and running your sales training programs with them?
Even before COVID-19, we had built a strong tech infrastructure to equip our agents and partners to digitally learn, recruit, prospect, sell and service customers. The pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of all such digital assets at a much higher scale, both by our insurance consultants and customers. There is a frequent training intervention through our digital learning platform – InstaLearn. In addition, videos and webinars are being leveraged to the maximum to impart relevant investment related advisory training to our sales team.
New normal is going to witness a change in behaviour in the future. Do you feel the new behaviour of the consumer will grow the insurance market and what will be your strategy to address the new normal and any plans to introduce new products?
The pandemic has led customers to become more aware of unforeseen risks. Hence, there has been an increasing demand for pure protection products and health insurance. I believe in the new normal, the realisation that Life Insurance and Health Insurance forms the foundation of financial planning, will set in amongst customers. The category will transition from push to pull centric. Our focus will be to rely on the power of data analytics, tech and content to make meaningful connection with the customers. We will also continue to introduce value packed and differentiated products enabling customers to achieve their life goals.
Customer centricity plays a pivotal role with every financial brand. So how are the customer grievances and pain areas of customers managed during these times when one is not able to operate the customer service centres in full stream?
Expanding the width of smart digital assets, which now encompass Life Assist customer self-servicing portal and App, WhatsApp services and Chat Bot BOING, has allowed us to satisfactorily meet customers’ needs. This is reflected in the growth in our volume of policies sold YTD August, FY20-21 by 47 per cent over last year. Also, our grievance ratio, that is, the number of complaints to policies sold, reduced by almost half during the first quarter of this financial year, as compared to the previous year.
What has been your overall media strategy? Digital has accelerated and is a key medium for customer engagement, how have you deployed digital to stay engaged with your stakeholders and your audiences? Any new campaigns in the pipeline to leverage the festival season?
We believe an integrated media approach will yield desired brand and business objectives, both for short and long term. However, the choice of medium depends on the marketing objective at hand. We have focussed on building reassurance and relevance for the brand. Well-being of our employees, customers and partners has been one of our top priorities. Very early during the pandemic we launched #FitnessFromHome initiative, where we have been conducting LIVE fitness sessions by experts across our social media platforms. This apart, we geared up our digital assets to cater the voluminous post policy services, which customers could avail from the comfort of their homes. We introduced first of its kind remote co-browsing service, SmartAssist, which has been receiving an overwhelming response from customer and customer facing teams. Furthermore, our engaging content marketing initiatives, #DostiWithDad, #GoalsNeverLockDown, #RishtoKiRaksha fuelled relevant conversations impacting enormous positive buzz for the brand.