Riding the digital wave in insurance - Manu Lavanya, director and COO of Max Life Insurance

| 24 Jun 2021

With Covid-19 transforming the world, digital revolution and technology rose to the occasion significantly. In a largely face-to-face life insurance industry, digital initiatives helped reimagine traditional customer lifecycles and ensured a superior experience for them during the pandemic in a remote and contactless era.

While the transition has been a meaningful one with leading life insurers riding the digital wave effectively, the key to unlocking growth in the future is to attain a balance between digitisation and the human touch. In this article, we have Manu Lavanya, director and COO, Max Life Insurance share with us how it is imperative to let the human connection in insurance thrive hand in hand with digital innovation.

Why does the digital age demand a balance of tech and human synergies?

As pointed out by a recent Accenture report, customers continue to show greater preference for a mix of digital and physical channels. The ability to interact in person forms a crucial part of customer satisfaction, even in the digital age. For instance, WeSure, the digital insurance business of Tencent in China, is fast adopting a meaningful omni-advisor approach combining all three touchpoints – digital, remote and human. The firm has assigned every customer a dedicated agent and enabled them digitally to provide services – send child medical insurance policies as a gift through WeChat, offer premium discounts for those who score highly on WeSure’s pedometer and much more.

In India too, there is an opportunity to adopt this intervention. For example, agents and advisers have always played a very critical role in the life insurance business, where customers have cherished the personal contact, bonding and relationship established by their agent and advisers. To provide more value-added services, a digitally advanced life insurer can digitise everything technical – forms, documents, signatures, sales, and claims paperwork and let the agents’ human touch shine.

When that happens, agents and advisers who previously spent a disparate amount of time traveling to physical locations, chasing customers for paperwork, and filing paperwork, will have an opportunity to focus solely on the humane side of work. They now will have the opportunity to provide sound financial guidance, reassurance, and direction, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.

How can insurers arrive at the right mix of technology and humaneness as they invest in their digital strategies?

When deciding on digital strategies, the answer lies in consciously deliberating on tasks that can be left to the digital realm and can benefit from positive and productive relationships. When implemented right, a digital future can translate into a more human future where insurance providers serve customers more efficiently and in a cost and time-effective manner.

Here are three ways in which insurers can strike a near-perfect balance between human touch and technology.

1) Differentiate efficiency and empathy: Mastering the left brain - right brain continuum

There are repetitive parts of the end-to-end business process that are more amenable to automation, technology, and digital transformation. However there also a human interaction element that requires empathy and emotional connection.

Hence “Phygital” is the right response to build business processes that are intelligent, efficient and experience-centric. 

A hybrid model is one where the workforce is equipped with a full set of digital capabilities that serve to make human interaction with customers more streamlined and effective. Leading players can benefit from adopting a mix and match of digital and traditional as they invest in rebuilding their distribution strategy


2) Ensure human involvement in training Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) behind the scenes

Humans have relevant, sector-specific expertise that can be optimized to design the right kind of response mechanism in voice bots, chatbots and AI-operated machinery. There are many examples of how insurers are implementing AI to improve their customer experience. For instance, AI powered intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) across the globe are quickly automating tasks such as information gathering, documentation, thereby acting as a whisper agent to provide human colleagues with access to information and protocols.


3) Optimize the omni-channel experience  

With the pandemic, remote operations put into focus concepts such as an end-to-end digital transition, mobility, omni-channel distribution in the forefront. These are words that changed the world of distribution in the life insurance industry, but in the future of insurance, human connect will add valuably to customer experience.

To ride the wave of digital insurance, firms must rethink their strategies and set the journey for hybrid models to be in play so that we deliver a uniform, fluid and benchmark experience to all customers, irrespective of the channel that they leverage buy life insurance products.

This article is in paid partnership with Max Life Insurance and was authored by Mr Manu Lavanya, Director and Chief Operations Officer, Max Life Insurance.

Image: Manu Lavanya

Manu Lavanya is the Director & Chief Operating Officer of Max Life Insurance. Manu has over two decades of valuable experience in successfully creating, transforming and scaling IT business across multiple industry domains and geographies including the US, Latin America, Eastern Europe, UK and India. Manu leads the “Fulfillment group” that comprises Operations, Information Technology, Underwriting & Claims, Digital Transformation and Quality, Innovation & Service Excellence. As COO, Manu plays an instrumental role in enhancing the Operations value chain, leading our Digital Transformation agenda and strengthening the Quality culture thereby helping us craft superior customer experiences.

Before Max Life, Manu was the Global COO at Incedo. Prior to Incedo, he created and scaled Brillio, a global digital services 


More from Max Life Insurance:

Three traits for life insurance agents of tomorrow - Max Life Insurance Deputy MD

How life insurers can transform into a new-age digital hybrid sales distribution model post COVID-19 

Reimagining the role of advisers to align with the future of life insurance distribution in India


Hear what csuites in the industry are saying:

Bright future for life insurance despite ongoing uncertainty - Allianz Asia Pacific Life & Health CEO Anusha Thavarajah

Arming advisers with the right tools for the digital age -  Great Eastern managing director, regional agency/ financial advisory and Banca Patrick Peck

Behind the rapid growth of Manulife Financial Advisers - Manulife Financial Advisers CEO Khoo Poh Huat


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