While we battle the COVID-19 crisis, experts say businesses who care geared up for a more digital future will be the winners at the end. The pandemic has emphasized the vital role of technology and innovation for supporting remote working, scaling digital channels, and measuring productivity. Companies have digitized overnight to keep operations going while minimizing the risk to employees by adapting to new ways of working and new technologies to aid them. And there is more to come.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Shailesh Singh - Director & Chief People Officer - Max Life Insurance shares how the firm continues to adopt new technologies with agility to continue with its growth momentum and benefit customers as well as employees at large.
COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. How are businesses fast-tracking their digital agenda amid this crisis?
For all the uncertainty about what the future will look like, it’s clear already that it is digital which is the new normal. Across industries, the challenge lies in changing things that have been there for years and to make sure that new technology seamlessly integrates with the legacy systems, some of which cannot be replaced easily. As this phase requires social distancing, the biggest challenge is to nurture a new ecosystem of contactless servicing that can only rest upon strong digital fundamentals.
At Max Life Insurance, we are leading with agility and transitioning our processes onto digital channels to promptly service our customers in a contactless manner. Right from sales to new policy issuance to claims management – operations across the entire value chain have been digitized. We have been very open and quick to adopt the latest technologies in the arena of customer-facing conversational interfaces such as chat-bots and backend improvements to mitigate the challenge.
“To ensure that new policies can be issued to customers during the time of lockdown with no physical contact, we have digitized our sales processes to accommodate social distancing and have managed to sell more than 24,000 policies digitally.”
How are you preparing for a post-COVID business? What investments are the most necessary to create the technology environment that will allow your company to thrive in the next normal?
With the business of Max Life Insurance falling under the essential services category, we are committed to providing seamless and hassle-free services to our customers during the lockdown period as well. To ensure the utmost safety of our employees and partners, we have reiterated our commitment to a phase-wise opening of our offices in the Green and Orange zones, while complying with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). These offices have been opened with bare minimum staff in the first week with a focus on providing policy-related servicing to our customers for which only a select number of employees are being called to offices.
Our focus for the next fiscal will be to enhance the digital way of working and enabling digital sales across distribution channels through various training and development modules. Secondly, almost all the business functions have been enabled for the Work from Home (WFH) model.
“We will, therefore, continue to focus on investments on technologies that enable remote working (balancing security, agility, and scalability) and collaboration tools which will become imperatives in the new technology stack.”
A lot of employees must be working remotely. What are your biggest challenges with respect to dealing with this new style of working and what technologies are you employing to solve them?
Digital adoption, which has always been at the core of our growth strategy, has helped us reinitiate our day-to-day business with utmost safety and efficiency. By adapting to new ways of working, our employees have been able to increase their efficiency, while remaining healthy. We are encouraging our employees to work-from-home as much as possible, and simultaneously take care of their health and mental well-being by engaging in unwinding activities like Zumba with family and online Yoga classes. We have also instituted monthly pulse surveys to gauge levels of engagement in different functions and locations. This helps us take appropriate curative actions to manage this transition better. We continue to adopt new technologies with agility to continue with our growth momentum and benefit our customers as well as employees at large.
To keep teams collaborative, connected, and to instill a sense of belonging, we have leveraged tools like Workplace, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to introduce interactive sessions that keep employees engaged.
“Over a period of time, our investments in developing our digital assets have proven beneficial through this lockdown. Max Life’s employee app today enables people to work from home effectively and consume many HR processes digitally like Payroll, L&D, and PMS.”
Additionally, we have also created workflows to enable seamless remote working that ensures the utmost efficiencies in the business processes.
Do you see a new tech infrastructure in the making for your organization after COVID-19?
COVID-19 has been a great lesson of preparedness for all of us. It has drawn greater realization to the urgent need of reimagining processes to remove friction, enable virtual prospecting, and developing a digital sales force. This ‘new normal’ requires a focused approach in building tech infrastructure which complements the ecosystem. The digital ecosystem is going to pave way for a digital-first approach across functions. On the processing side, there is a need to look at processing centers as virtual centers that allow for uberization – seamless transfer of work-streams across locations. It forces us to rethink the digital workplace as not only office spaces but also encompassing home office spaces.
What do you think are the security implications of the post COVID world because data will no longer be confined to corporate offices?
The value of tools cannot be undermined when evaluating risks across the enterprise. We use a healthy blend of industry tools and manual interventions to manage a myriad of risk categories such as Operational Risk, Financial Risk, Technology Risk, Fraud, and Compliance Risk. We have put in robust mechanism with a combination of custom-built and commercial tools for collecting data (especially transactions), analyzing them, co-relating them for anomaly identification and business intelligence tools for creating dashboards and reports.