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AI, Chatbots Are Completely Changing Insurance Industry

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The insurance industry is undergoing multiple disruptions in its functioning and the trend will accelerate in the future. Recent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain and robotic process automation (RPA) have significant potential to streamline insurance operations and enhance customer experience. Insurers have started to capitalize on this potential of technology to address the increasing customer demands and expectations. India’s third largest private sector non-life insurance provider HDFC ERGO believes in constant innovation that will benefit and redefine customer experience. In a recent interaction with CXOToday, Mehmood Mansoori, Member of Executive Management & Group Head, HDFC ERGO General, explains the trends and challenges in the insurance sector andthe role HDFC Ergo is playing in the ecosystem.

CXOToday: Could you please tell us about the recent tech trends in the insurance industry. How are insurers using tech to redefine customer experience? 

Mehmood Mansoori: As a trend, Insurers are using Artificial Intelligence, Robotics Process Automation as well as a number of DIY techniques to deliver faster, better and seamless customer experience. The extensive use of AI based Chatbots extensively by Insurers has helped in improving and enhanced customer experience by creating an Onmi-channel to on-board customers as well as engage with them across platforms leading to immense improvements in productivity and efficiency.

Artificial intelligence is playing a big role in the industry at all stages of customer life cycle. Companies are using AI for auto adjudication of claims thereby speeding up claim settlement at the moment of truth.  For example, at HDFC ERGO we are working on enhancing servicing capabilities where we intend to predict the customers’ next servicing requirement and proactively address these by reaching to them rather than waiting for them to call us.  Moreover, Big data analytics helps us understand the customers profile better and accordingly price a risk at optimum level, making it win-win proposition. Using the customer’s basic health profile, AI based models are capable of predicting the diseases one is like to face. This information can be used by insurance companies in driving targeted wellness interventions, encouraging customers’ for healthy living through structured programmes benefiting both, the customers and Insurance companies.

In Insurance there is low connect with the customers. Once the customer purchases a policy, there are very little needs for the customer to connect with the Insurance Company, which means that every interaction between the customer and his insurers must deliver a positive experience.

CXOToday: Could you tell us about the shift in insurance landscape through rise in insurance sales from tier II markets? 

Mehmood Mansoori: Although Tier I markets still contribute substantially to the top-line of the business, there has been a stark increase in the uptake of personal insurance in other markets as well over the last couple of years. This is primarily due to the increase in awareness of Insurance and the willingness to secure one against any financial uncertainties.  The emergence of online channels and the internet penetration in Tier ll markets have aided in resolving distribution challenges to a greater extent. There is a sharp rise in the sale of Motor and Health Insurance, specifically in geographies other than Tier I cities. This is also an indicator for Insurers to introduce simple products that are light on the customer’s pocket. 

Digital not just helps companies in sales but better their service, which helps instilling trust among customers’. The platform also allows customer to research before they make a buying decision. With the world going digital and paperless, customers today can create a service request online and also get serviced without having to submit any documentation.

At HDFC ERGO, we have leveraged the digital platform and empowered our customers whereby they can register claims and even conduct self-surveys up to a specific amount.  Govt Common Service Centers it taking the agenda beyond tier II. CSC, which has the reach in remote villages, offers insurance on their platform and facilitates the sale of insurance policies in those markets.

CXOToday: What are the forthcoming challenges in the insurance industry and how can CIOs overcome these challenges? 

Mehmood Mansoori: Insurance is a complex and heavily transaction oriented industry. We offer to support the customer in times of crisis. However, the consumers’ expectation from the Insurance Company is the same as the experience they get from any other industry that does business only through the digital platform. This presents Insurers with a great opportunity for the Insurance industry to align its offering with the expectations of today’s customers.  In this changing world, CIO’s are coming at the centre stage of strategy.

No longer there can be a strategy and business model where technology would be an afterthought. New age products are technology based. Innovation in technology like Telematics, connected homes, wearable devices, cyber risks are giving birth to new kinds of products. The entire service model is going digital. Most of the traditional companies are largely divided in sales, product operations and technology which is different from how new age digital companies think. New age models are that of distribution, product and platform. Suddenly it’s the platform that’s getting prominence as a delivery vehicle for sales and service both. CIO’s today are leading from the front in devising organization’s platform strategy as future business model.

CXOToday: Some time ago, HDFC ERGO deployed a cloud-based technology for social media integration platform “Lithium.” Please How are you reaping the benefits of this solution. 

Mehmood Mansoori: Social Listening is the need of the hour and is imperative for any brand in this digital era. With customers adopting the digital mediums of communicating with brands, we have deployed “Lithium”, a cloud-based platform, which provides a single view to a majority of the social platforms. Lithium trawls the internet to provide a real-time feed of customers’ reactions and feedback about us, our products and services. We have a dedicated team to connect and communicate with the customers and respond to their feedback and requests shared, instantly through Lithium. In addition, we have also worked with Lithium to create a first of its kind community portal for General Insurance that helps customers seek answers to their questions from peers, which are related to products and services of General Insurance.

CXOToday: What are the other digital innovations at HDFC ERGO? What are your business plans for the next 2 years? 

Mehmood Mansoori: In the last three years, we have transformed our business model to a completely ‘digital’ business model. Ninety-two percent of our policies today are issued in an automated way with B2C, B2B2C and point of sale platform, which makes the delivery of policies to the customer almost instant. Our serving model, be it to our customers or partners, is turning digital more like any digital bank. We have observed an encouraging trend among our customers in the adoption of the services through the digital platform and hence, we are converting our entire service model digital which is on the lines of digital banking. Today more than 50 percent of our services are available online which customer can avail of at their own convenience using our website, chatbot and mobile applications. In near future, we intend to offer 75 percent services online. 

We recently integrated DIA, our AI enabled Chatbot on platforms like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and our Company Website. In addition, there are a host of other technology solutions we are actively adopting which will help us take customer experience to the next level. These include Robotics Process Automation, Voice Analytics and AI. Moreover, through Robotic Process Automation and Voice Analytics, we are ensuring we stay ahead of curve and help our business exploit new technology and concepts to achieve organizational efficiencies.  We are in the process of developing voice analytic solutions which will help us generate deeper insights on hearing customer’s voice and improve the quality on a continuous basis. Our aim is to continue on this path and in-built cognitive technologies in most of our business processes and decision to further improve operational efficiencies and customer experience.

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