Interview with Sanjay Tripathy, Executive Vice President at HDFC Life
PW: In your organization how has technology played a role in customer acquisition or retention?
ST: Life Insurance is a long term business and hence retention of existing customers (Persistency) in a highly competitive arena is as important as acquisition of new customers. Customer retention is important because higher persistency leads to more profitable insurance business. It also gives an opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell. Driving up the persistency levels is a key business objective for any insurer.
With the customer and business in mind and in order to maintain its retention/persistency/conservation levels, HDFC Life had assigned the task of managing the customer relationship to the Customer Service and Branch Operations teams. These teams were provided with the list of lapsed, paid-up policies and the corresponding customer information in a spreadsheet format. The data was uploaded into the CRM of the contact center which was then used for customer follow up by the Customer Service team. This data was also manually segregated and allocated to multiple Operation users across 430+ branches for follow up with the customers. Branch Operations users were required to update the complaints, service requests and accurate customer contact information, which was obtained from the sales force, in the same spreadsheet. This process was time consuming and inefficient. No central control and reporting, hence control was weak and activities were not being tracked.
To overcome the above problems, HDFC Life undertook a critical technology initiative to implement a configurable & scalable solution to facilitate revenue collections & drive up the persistency/conservation levels. The solution was branded ‘MINT’.
Customer satisfaction, retention and user productivity have been the guiding forces in the design and development of MINT–Renewal & Retention.
Mint was designed to enhance the ability to retain customers and collect premiums. The solution manages the premium collection process and automatically notifies contact center agents and HDFC Life’s front office team, who then inform the customers about renewals and revival details.
There are four stages in the lifecycle of the renewals and revivals process and these are mapped by the system
A) Early reminder which alerts customer via calls of their premium due dates
B) Missed due date but within grace period customers are called and reminded to make the relevant premium payment
C) Cases that exceed the grace period but within a few months, once again a process is initiated since the policy can be reinstated without medical tests
D) Cases that exceed 6 months are automatically assigned for revival attempts. It then performs segmentation of data, allocation to the agents/executives for subsequent follow-up through managed workflows.
If the customers contact details are not updated, the system creates a workflow for these too so that an offline process is initiated to trace the customer and alert him. It is also integrated with auto dialers for automatic dial out to the customers which increases the productivity of the call centre agents.
The solution is based on n-Tier J2EE architecture with Oracle backend. Policy and Customer data is received from the Core Insurance system. System performs Segmentation of data, allocation to the agents/Executives and subsequent follow-up through managed workflows. It is integrated with ASPECT auto dialers for automatic dial out to the customers.
MINT is configurable and scalable solution. The system is deployed on a highly scalable architecture with JBOSS as the Web application server with support for load balancing. Flexibility and workflow capabilities of the system allow it to be easily used and configured to manage data flow across departments like Customer Service and Branch operations. The solution provides a more streamlined process ensuring higher productivity, greater customer retention.
The system provides details of lapse and premium-due policies to project teams enabling them to engage with customers and drive various campaigns on existing and new products. Campaign details are shared with business and better contactibility.
PW: How has technology played a role in new product development, market expansion or other areas?
ST: HDFC Life follows a robust and structured new product development process to shorten the concept-to-launch cycle.
The process followed to ensure faster product development is:
- Product planning team liaisons with Business Systems & Technology while designing the product document before filing to the IRDA.
- New product can be cloned quickly from an existing product in a matter of 2 hours post which only the product specific business rules are initiated. This ensures faster development.
- Phasing of requirements
- Phasing of Testing
- Preparation of the Test Cases repository
- Adoption of Agile methodology to cope with IRDA changes
All the above steps and initiatives helped the organization:
- Launch the product in 21 days.
- The advantage of faster to market can be translated into additional EPI Opportunity which is calculated at Rs 111 crs in the year 2010-11.
- The success of this initiative was amply displayed when we were the only Insurance Company to be ready with new products to launch in the post-IRDA regulation period.
HDFC Life addresses event specific needs of customers through its product portfolio across unit-linked and conventional platforms.
Well structured Online Policy Selling that enables customers to buy a policy online.
Upfront categorization and higher non-medical limits enhance straight through policy issuance for products.
Detailed financial planning tool that can be used for risk profiling and life-stage based need linked goals setting with customers.
Comprehensive toolkits are provided to sales personnel to drive the desired product proposition & ease of sale.
HDFC Life’s customers have access to the online ‘My Account’ portal to ensure self-fulfillment of major transactions. ‘My Account’ portal covers the widest possible gamut of transactions. Online customer portal minimizes the need for a customer to walk-in to the branch.
HDFC Life also monitors and leverages multiple digital touch points that have emerged over the past few years.