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IT & digital assets to drive Bharti AXA

Mehul Dani: What are the growth indicators for the company in FY15?

Sandeep Ghosh:Our new business premium for FY15 grew by 26%. The main reasons for this growth are increased footprint of sales staff (agents and advisors), launch of new products (compliant with the new IRDA guidelines for traditional products) and increase in the business from group partner and brokers.

Which new products are offered in Q1, 2015-16? How have you brought in product innovations?

For Q1 2015-16, we launched eFutureInvest, a ULIP available online. We now have a comprehensive product suite to choose from online as well – protection, traditional and ULIP. We have also launched a comprehensive Premium Waiver Rider, which covers not only death but also critical illnesses and total permanent disability. We intend to launch 2 more traditional products and a rider in the next 1-2 months. Going forward, we would launch more products within segments falling in the sub categories as well as in some of the niche segments. Keeping customer centricity as our top priority, naturally leads to product innovation. We aim to provide the right product proposition with range of flexibilities for the customer in terms of features, PPT, PT, premium payment modes and payment options.

How many policies have been issued in rural India in 2014-15? How do you propose to up the volume?

We wrote close to 20,000 under the rural segment in FY 2014-15. We intend to leverage upon the common service center network to increase the policy count under this segment.

What are the marketing, branding and promotional activities planned for 2015-16?

Our brand is predicated on providing a drag and new perspective in life insurance and thereby redefining the category itself. Strategy of proof, the guiding strategy for brand positioning, creates customer-centric solutions that make a real difference in their lives. We will continue to build the brand on this core thought. Our plans also involve strengthening our brand presence on digital media, especially social, by telling compelling and share-worthy stories. Currently, we have established ourselves on Facebook and LinkedIn, being the most engaging in the insurance category. In future, we want to create a strong ecosystem for the brand by investing across other platforms including Twitter, YouTube and blogs. We would gradually explore distribution opportunities on social media and take our digital strategy to the next level. We strongly believe that digital is the way to go and we are building capabilities that will help us transform the way we do business, not just marketing.

How is Bharti AXA Life different from other insurers?

Life insurance products involve a lot of features within the same design and hence it is difficult to find 2 products with the same features in the industry except protection. We at Bharti AXA Life differentiate ourselves by our focus on customer centricity and convenience. Digitalization being the key, our initiatives are focused on providing digitally led solutions at various phases of the customer journey. We pride ourselves in many industry-first practices. One, Bharti AXA Life provides a dedicated claims handler that will assist the claimant throughout the claims process and update him at each milestone. Two, Bharti AXA Life guarantees the payment of the fund value in 48 hours post claim intimation, else we pay an additional interest of 1% of fund value for every day of delay. To further ease the claims process, we have launched an online claims portal that allows the customer to register a claim anytime, anywhere, ensuring the customer does not have to run from pillar to post to claim what is rightfully his/hers. Also, it has been our constant endeavour to be a source of education for our customers. Practices like pre-sales call to confirm the policy details, is a step further in our efforts to keep the customer’s interest at the heart of all our operations. For servicing, we offer access through multiple channels like SMS, email, customer portal and social media.

What are the changes introduced in information technology in the last one year?

Some of the key initiatives are:

e-application with electronic form filling for all the products, riders and image upload facility: This enables our agents to log in policy at any hour of the day from any internet-enabled PC or laptop. This saves backend data entry, imaging efforts and helps both agents and customer with quicker turnaround of policy issuance.

CRM enhancement with single view of customer: This provides our customers with better experience at the call center as call center representatives can now provide better solutions and support to the customers.

Web based claims reporting and tracking: The claims experience has become more transparent with launch of this web module.

Digital tools for distributors: Mobile financial need analysis and lead management tools for distributors are making selling experience better for both distributors and customers.

Switch: We recently launched a sales tool called Switch, which is pre-loaded on a top-of-the-line Samsung tablet. As a pilot exercise, the Switch-loaded tablets were handed over to selected salespeople, who were re-christened ‘digital advisors’. It enables the digital advisor to do a comprehensive needs-based sale for every prospective customer. It recommends a product or a combination of products, which are best suited to meet the customer’s needs. The high degree of customization allows the customer to evaluate multiple illustrations and calculations, before deciding what suits him best.

What are the plans to use social media for marketing and branding?

We have employed social media primarily for brand building. But, now we are extensively looking at digital as an avenue to drive business. We recognize that it is a huge business opportunity and we are all out to employ social media from a business impact perspective.

What are the targets for 2015-16?

We expect to continue with the growth momentum and build on this. We are exploring various means to grow the business, focusing mainly on areas like increasing productivity in agency channel, offering online solutions, etc. We are making sizeable investments in technology and digital assets to drive efficiency on both distribution and customer service front. Productivity improvement, cost efficiency, geographical expansion to increase the reach, strong branding on the back of various customer service proof-points and social media strategy are expected to fuel the growth in medium to long term.

How do you view raising the limit of FDI for insurance sector to 49%?

When AXA entered India in a joint venture with the Bharti group, the expectation was to have a greater share (more than 26%) in the company. It is a welcome move by the regulator for both AXA and Bharti. In terms of our commitment, operational matters and services, things will remain exactly the same.

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