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From Collaboration to Co-Innovation

Nalini Venkat, President of Strategic Partnerships at Digit Insurance, shares pioneering collaborations that prioritize customer-centricity amidst the digital revolution:From Collaboration to Co-Innovation

Ravi Lalwani: The transformation towards customer-centricity has become a popular goal. However, achieving this requires the organization to also be agile in its partner engagements. How are partners helping in achieving customer centricity?

Nalini Venkat: Partnerships are a quick and effective way to grow your business. We offer two kinds of products through our partners. The first is complimentary /supplementary products. For example, we could offer an extended warranty when someone purchases white goods. We customize our product features and pricing to match the partner’s customer journey, which creates a more customer-centric approach and streamlines digital sales.

The second is cross-sell products. For instance, we might offer 2-wheeler insurance on a UPI/payment platform to a partner’s customer base.

Our partners have a wealth of information about their customers, and we leverage their data analytics to identify and create cohorts based on customer demographics. We focus on creating hyper-personalized products and pricing, but we do not seek or receive any personally identifiable information from our partners. Partnerships give us a ready platform to create customer-centric products, appealing prices, and simplified customer journeys with instant gratification to ensure minimal customer dissonance.

Has the pace at which the organization engages with new partners changed? Please share a couple of recent examples.

Digital transformation has become essential in all aspects of our lives, and digitization is rapidly becoming the norm. Our interactions with new partners are increasingly taking place in the digital realm. Let’s talk about digital banking. The personal loan space is a prime example of end-to-end digitization. Interestingly, upwards of 90% of new personal loans provided by banks and NBFCs are now sourced digitally. The instantaneous nature of digital processes caters to the customer’s desire for immediate satisfaction with minimal input. To accomplish this, leveraging external data, including metadata, is vital. Developing rating and rule engines that enable faster loan disbursal is also important. This is a dynamic space encompassing a variety of contributors driving this digital transformation.

Even in Digit’s case, we use machine learning (ML) and AI-driven microsystems and/or bots to streamline a significant amount of our operations across the onboarding, underwriting, servicing, and claims processes. This has enabled us to deliver a high-quality partner experience. Our phygital model, which combines physical and digital elements, has empowered our partners through our M-portal and app, and has been one of our major differentiators.

Compared to past partnerships, how are your newer partnerships different in terms of domain, length of engagement, speed of delivery, etc?

We have noticed an increase in the number of partners who prioritize technology in their businesses. As a result, our partnerships have expanded to include the entire digital ecosystem, such as OTAs, OEMs, fintechs, digital wallets, payment gateways, and UPI service providers. The duration of engagement with each partner is solely based on the value we can provide. A faster go-to-market approach, continuous improvement of the customer journey, communication, UI/UX, and collaboration help establish a sustainable and growing partnership. Moreover, the regulatory support for digitization emphasizes the significance of quick product launches and user adoption.

How are you making engagement with partners grow from P2P to org-to-org?

Establishing a successful partnership involves engagement with various stakeholders across various teams including product, strategy, marketing, business, legal, finance, and tech teams. This multidisciplinary involvement ensures that all aspects of the partnership are addressed adequately. Interactive workshops serve as a platform for stakeholders to gain a comprehensive understanding of the partnership’s objectives and align our efforts accordingly. These workshops create an environment for open communication, brainstorming, exchange of ideas, and goal setting.

Furthermore, creating a detailed man-to-man mapping across both organizations is essential. This mapping allows for a clear visualization of each stakeholder’s role, responsibilities, and contribution to the partnership. By clearly defining these roles, potential areas of overlap or miscommunication can be mitigated, leading to smoother collaboration and faster execution.

Regular reviews by a steering committee provide a structured framework for evaluating the progress and impact of the partnership. These reviews encompass various aspects such as assessing the reception of new products, analyzing user engagement metrics, identifying opportunities for UI/UX improvements, evaluating attachment rates, considering feature enhancements, and streamlining operational processes. This ongoing assessment ensures that the partnership remains aligned with its objectives and adapts to the evolving business environment. Sharing our learnings and implementing best practices further enhances the partnership’s effectiveness.

Name some areas where the partnership engagement is highly variable.

Seasonal changes can have a significant impact on partnership dynamics. For instance, there is usually a high demand for student travel insurance during university admissions, which is a good example of how partnership needs can vary with time. Furthermore, toward the end of the financial year, we observe a surge in sales of health and life insurance policies due to tax benefits. By understanding these seasonal shifts, we can design targeted campaigns to cater to the specific needs of our partners.

You need feedback from clients of the partner you are evaluating – how is that mechanism changing?

We believe that feedback is an ongoing process and a crucial part of our operations. We proactively seek input from diverse stakeholders, including our customers, partners, and internal teams, to ensure that we have comprehensive 360-degree feedback. Additionally, we use advanced analytics to analyze the purchasing behavior of different customer segments and identify any potential areas of dissatisfaction throughout their journey with us. We synthesize this wealth of information to make informed strategic decisions that guide the direction of our firm.

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