E-Commerce Will Soon Sell Insurance Policies

by Preeti S    Jul 22, 2015

Sanjay Tripathy

By 2020, 250 million Indians will shop online, according to a report by Bain and Co and Google India. This trend has prompted insurance companies to explore opportunities in getting their products online to expand the customer base.

HDFC Life has already made all its assets mobile friendly and is now moving towards localizing its e-commerce solutions by enabling products on multilingual online buying platform to reach Tier 3 & 4  customers.

In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Sanjay Tripathy, Senior EVP, Marketing, Product, Digital and Ecommerce, HDFC Life, said technology is enabling better customer services and he is optimistic that insurance will soon be part of ecommerce market place.

Excerpts

Which are the new trends that will influence the insurance market in near future?

By 2020, every individual would have done at least one online transaction. We are getting ready for that trend while planning how we can use offline model for online transaction. There is a segment of customers that is comfortable with online purchase of books/tickets etc. We want them to be comfortable in buying insurance too.

The online companies selling different categories will start selling insurance. I won’t be surprised if we have to sign partners to sell insurance solutions. It is essential to see how one can provide cloud solutions to customer or ensure partners understand customer need. Going forward we need to factor in how we can put customer in the centre of everything.

The buying is a pyramid. People who are currently exposed to online, they will research and those who are already researching, will buy. 

How prepared is HDFC for the emergence of telematics or IoT technologies?

Globally, people are considering IoT and mobility in the form of wearables like watches, wrist bands etc to gather details and use analytics to ensure insightful decisions. However, in India, it is still in a nascent stage. We are looking at what kind of information we can gather about a person like his medical record or other behaviour so that we can use it provide better services.

We have not got into IoT in specific, but we are studying the trend. When penetration of devices will be higher and reliable, we will look at it. It might take 2-3 years. We will take it up once the segment matures and more reliable players emerge in the market.

How aligned in technology to marketing strategy in an insurance company?

If you want someone to really experience your products online, technology back-up has to be good. Unlike in many other categories, in insurance the conversation starts with the need and then the search begins for a product. Worldwide, insurance is either advice or agency driven. Someone will discuss and then create the need. The digital platforms enable one to provide education and create the products to ensure the experience is hassle-free so that customers are comfortable in online purchase.

Technology and marketing go hand-in-hand. Without marketing one can’t create the need for the product.  One has to create awareness and then the need to buy.  If technology solution is not good, there are chances customer will go to other products.

What is the digital strategy adopted at HDFC Life?

Last year, HDFC’s digital revenue for online insurance was close to Rs 125 crore. It has grown 100 pc compared to last year. We are planning to grow it 100 pc every year. We need to know how we can make online intelligent and when the customers need to merge offline transaction with online.  For that, it is essential to offer good user experience and customer value, and ensure customers are comfortable in buying online.  Building confidence is very important in online.

People will be demanding in terms of experiencing customer services online. They expect speed. It is not just about selling online, but as a company we must see how we can provide better customer experience and services online. That is the moment of truth people are looking at. So it is our responsibility to maintain the value chain online and ensure online customer stays as online customer.

According to a research only 30 pc of insurance customer globally are having a positive experience. What is the role of IT in transforming the insurance sector?

We want to engage the audience with the content that is intuitive and educate them so that they look at overall financial planning in a different way and build social community that is digital using our products. We also look at the social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram. The new trends will be about how organizations can become a digital first organization—be it educating customers, for selling new products, customer service or any other interaction. Engaging and educating the customers is important so that they are comfortable with online transactions.

How is IT enabling better operational process?

We use Adobe suite for programmatic targeting of customers. The moment a prospect comes to the site, we will understand the requirements and create a better profile of the customer so that we can target in a much better way. Rather than blindly sending mailers, we will know the exact need of the customer.

We are using social media to build activities to get a fair understanding of our daily engagement. Similarly, for the backend, we use technology to analyze pre-sales and post-sale behaviours.