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We have about 85% of customer queries coming to us through digital means: Aalok Bhan

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Bhan, Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance, shares insights behind the new campaign, digitisation journey, partnership with Axis bank, expected growth, and more

In the backdrop of Covid-19, customers are now more aware of life insurance and its importance to building financial resilience. Max Life Insurance has recently launched a new campaign ‘India Ke Bharose Ka Number’ with Boman Irani to highlight its performance in Claims Paid Ratio.

According to Aalok Bhan, Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance campaign showcases the company’s consistent performance in the Claims Paid Ratio as achieving a ratio of 99.35% in FY 20-21 reiterates the commitment to customers’ financial protection.

Even after a surge in demand in the last few months, insurance still remains an underpenetrated sector in India. Bhan shares the consumer sentiment and adds “India’s insurance penetration in FY21 stood at 4.2 per cent as compared to 3.76 per cent a year ago, of this life insurance penetration was 3.2%. The industry is in healthy shape and most players are recording impressive growth. In Q1FY21, the private life insurance industry grew by more than 20 per cent, and Max Life grew around 34 per cent. We maintained an inordinate focus on product innovation, digital agility and distribution excellence. As a result, we witnessed strong growth in our protection business through digital sales, aggregators, our own channels etc.” Talking about awareness, he says “As per our India Protection Quotient 3.0 survey, Urban India registered an increase of 7% in term awareness. Health and retirement have also taken the forefront in insurance conversations.”

With many brands competing in the market, it is important to exhibit product differentiation to drive conversions. What Max Life has done differently, Says Bhan “One has to dig a lot deeper to create a unique brand to differentiate itself from the competition because life insurance marketing programs are very similar, if not exactly the same. We believe in a ‘customer obsession’ approach. We continue to keep the audience engaged, create significant conversions, and ensure long-term brand loyalty by providing them with value propositions that solve their problems; without expecting it all to translate to sales. We are constantly looking to offer innovative products that will protect the customers and their loved ones. Health and retirement are the white spaces that we aim to fill in with focused product launches.”

Digitisation and Strategic Partnerships

Most brands have undergone a digital transformation in the last year. Taking us through the digitisation journey, Bhan says, “Currently, we are on a multi-year digital transformation journey. We are investing heavily in building new-age digital assets for customers across the value chain – prospecting, onboarding and servicing. Some of our recent digital initiatives include financial payout services on our website to offer seamless convenience to customers, contactless servicing through WhatsApp, our conversational AI chatbot and buy now, pay at approval services, amongst others. Additionally, in line with the RBI guidelines, we are amongst the first life insurers to enable a safe and secure e-mandate process on premium payments.”

In terms of product offerings and mix, the brand has a balanced portfolio. In the last quarter, the overall traditional plans, including par and non-par and protection products accounted for 65% while ULIPs made up the remaining 35%. In the second half, Max Life had a slew of new products planned in areas of par, non-par, ULIP, etc. Bhan adds, “Life insurers are not only investing increasingly in the creation of digital ecosystems but are also constantly adapting to become more dynamic and competitive in the digital domain, driving greater insurance adoption. Our market share in the digital space is close to 30 per cent. We have about 85% of customer queries coming to us through digital means. We’ve handled more than 40 lakh service queries on our online platforms. The effort is to be a comprehensive digital organization.”

Max Life Insurance has recently also entered a strategic partnership with Axis bank with an aim to deliver seamless customer experience and quality. The objective of the partnership is to make life insurance simple and accessible to everyone. Elaborated Bhan, “Our relationship is 11 years stronger and together, we have provided more than 20 lakh customers with long-term savings and protection products. Axis Bank’s deep understanding of the Indian financial services and life insurance space drive synergies in implementing best practices, customized product offerings, and build solutions that are focused on customer requirements. We’re certain that we’ll chart a new trajectory of stability and multi-year expeditious growth in our partnership with Axis Bank.”

Marketing Road Map & Future Growth

From the marketing standpoint, Max Life Insurance follows a three-level approach strategy. Shares Bhan “At the top, our purpose is to build awareness, educate customers and drive a credible narrative on why financial protection is important. Our flagship property, India Protection Quotient builds on this further by mapping the financial quotient of Urban India and its attitude towards financial protection. Our initiatives on the second level are closer to functionalities and the offerings of the brand including, the Protection Front Foot Pe campaign with Royal Challengers Bangalore that highlights the importance of term plan in financial security. At the third level, we aim to empathetically engage with consumers, build trust and connect. Using influencers such as Boman Irani has helped spearhead such conversations and change the consumer attitude positively towards life insurance. The focus must be on talking with consumers, rather than talking to them.”

Talking about the changing face of marketing insurance buying, he adds, “Traditionally, life insurance is anchored in the “fear factor of death” conversation. We managed to overcome this barrier and transition to a positive narrative with #YouAreTheDifference, which encourages the viewer to embrace their real value to be a key factor in determining the financial future of loved ones. One of the most important aspects is also to educate consumers on purchasing a policy with the right sum assured. Here lies an opportunity for the industry to help India move from a saving to a protection-oriented mindset. Building and maintaining customer trust will be of paramount importance.” While Max Life has increased focus on social media and digital marketing tools to drive engagement, the media mix is balanced spending between offline and online media with a 70:30 approach.

According to Bhan, Max Life aims to repeat last year’s performance or do better with a target which is upwards of 20 per cent. He shares, “In Q1 FY22, Max Life registered a growth of 27% in gross written premium, with a 21% increase in renewal premium. We also recently scaled a significant business milestone by achieving Rs 1 lakh crore of AUM as of September, growing at 30 per cent CAGR in the last decade. We achieved claims paid ratio of 99.35%, paying death claims worth INR 885.57 crore during the tough prevalent conditions around Financial Year 2020-21. With the Axis Bank partnership taking a new dimension, we’re confident of sustainable business growth in the next year.”

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Ritika Raj

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