Developing a profound understanding of your customer needs and carving out strategies reflecting the ambitions of specific customer cohorts

In this Research NXT Interview, Geetanjali Chugh Kothari, CMO of Future Generali India Life Insurance, talks about her journey in the organization and the transformative role of Indian GCCs in Digital Customer Experience (CX). She also highlights the in-house GCC model’s potential and real-world applications that act as the base of actionable insights to create the whitepaper “Leaders Speak: Transforming Customer Experience (CX) through Global Capability Centers.

Key takeaways from this Research NXT interview:

  • How FGILI’s digital transformation initiatives have empowered them to maintain business continuity and serve customers seamlessly in the event of severe disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Notable digital initiatives from FGILI like the introduction of our FG Life-Customer App, 24X7 service support, self-service transactions, dedicated customer portal, and QR Code-powered instant service options.
  • Critical aspects to crafting a successful Digital CX strategy.

We would like to start with your role and journey in Future Generali India Life Insurance and what are your observations around the business regarding digital transformation initiatives, including innovations, and product/service launches for improving digital customer experiences. Could you also share some notable business impacts of the initiatives?

Geetanjali: Having been at the helm of FGILI’s (Future Generali India Life Insurance) marketing, communications, digital, and customer experience initiatives since May last year, it is my firm belief that digital technologies have been a great enabler in driving operational efficiencies and product innovation.  Recognizing that consumers prefer simplicity, transparency, and control in their interactions, we have been transforming into a digitally-enabled organization highly attuned to the ever-evolving consumer and business landscape. The introduction of our FG Life-Customer App, 24X7 service support, self-service transactions, dedicated customer portal, and QR Code-powered instant service options are some notable initiatives that have brought us closer to our customers.

The Digital Customer Experience space is crowded with ever-evolving Digital Experience Management tools and functionalities and their applications by the in-house GCC centres of global enterprises. Could you please share some of the instances where your organization’s Indian GCC/GBS (India Unit) has been pivotal in empowering the strategic business priorities via digital transformation initiatives?

Geetanjali: At FGILI (Future Generali India Life Insurance), we have been augmenting our internal digital capabilities by investing in the right IT solutions since 2015. Consequently, the vast amounts of data generated on a daily basis are now being processed through a hybrid cloud environment, providing different levels of accessibility and peerless security while upholding user privacy. This hybrid IT infrastructure combined with our sustained focus on fortifying digital capabilities has helped in achieving key strategic and business objectives despite several external challenges.

Innovating internal operational processes with our enhanced digital capabilities and transitioning to a digitally-enabled omnichannel distribution channel for our insurance products has been made possible by these digital transformation initiatives. 

Speaking of notable business impacts of these initiatives, here are a few:

  • Our digital transformation initiatives have empowered us to maintain business continuity seamlessly, even in hybrid work environments, ensuring that the organization can continue serving customers even in case of severe disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Our agents and employees can now access relevant data sets to support decision-making, helping us deliver more personalized service in every customer interaction.
  • Moreover, sustaining this pace of digital transformation will remain vital for FGILI to build future-ready business models and innovate unique insurance products.

Global enterprises are feeling the knock-on effect of the new macroeconomic supercycle, with consumer needs evolving faster than ever. So, what has been your team’s focus on leveraging technology to drive your organization’s digital transformations and, consequently, enhance CX?

Geetanjali: To align our digital transformation initiatives with the ever-evolving consumer needs, we have adopted our Lifetime Partner strategy, which revolves around understanding and delivering products that meet our customers’ expectations. This strategic focus on transforming internal and customer-facing processes by integrating emerging digital technologies is now deeply entrenched across every vertical in our organization. Consequently, we have been able to reinvent many traditional processes by leveraging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Machine Learning (ML), resulting in the introduction of increased product personalization features and improved customer experience (CX) standards.

We remain committed to further expanding our technological capabilities so as to introduce more Do-it-yourself (DIY) features, enabling our customers to secure optimum insurance coverage against a wide range of mortality and health risks, in line with their nuanced requirements.

From the perspective of improving awareness and customer experience (CX) levels, insurers will focus on expanding their reach through API plug-ins and integrate more self-service options across their digital platforms

As an industry leader, what is your observation of how things have changed in the post-pandemic scenario for the Insurance industry, and what are the key CX themes on your map to look out for while stepping into 2024 and beyond?

Geetanjali: There has been a transformative shift in how customers access and purchase insurance, with preferences increasingly veering towards online channels that offer paperless transactions. This has prompted the insurance industry to focus on enhancing online customer support, augmenting their digital presence, and facilitating easy insurance access by issuing policies online using eKYC and digital signatures. Moreover, in a bid to improve insurance penetration and motivate the uninsured to secure themselves, insurers have been innovating new insurance products that are customized to different customer segments and requirements.

Looking at 2024 and beyond, we expect the pace of digital transformation to intensify further, with insurers embracing Web3 technologies like distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) to unlock the next wave of innovation. From the perspective of improving awareness and customer experience (CX) levels, insurers will focus on expanding their reach through API plug-ins and integrating more self-service options across their digital platforms.

With technology and consumer trends expected to evolve rapidly with increasing smartphone penetration, it will be vital for insurers to build technical and commercial partnerships with other stakeholders and technology leaders to facilitate accelerated product innovation and increased digital distribution of the same with the end consumer and helping strengthen the entire insurance ecosystem

Do you think Global Capability centres are better poised to enable Global Enterprises in their Digital transformation initiatives as compared to partnering with a third-party service provider? Or, for that matter, do you prefer a hybrid approach of the best of in-house and outsourced capabilities in the form of Tech, Talent, and infrastructure needs?

Geetanjali: At FGILI, we have always maintained a focus on fulfilling the needs of our customers and stakeholders, being prudent in implementing technologies that can have a positive impact on one or both fronts. While we have collaborated with global technology leaders in the past to augment our digital capabilities, our operations are fully supported by a robust yet agile hybrid IT infrastructure developed in-house in tune with varied business and customer requirements. In our belief, it is vital to build an internal talent pool that is proficient in the skills, technologies, and strategies necessary to survive and thrive in an increasingly digitalized world. 

Having said that, with technology and consumer trends expected to evolve rapidly with increasing smartphone penetration, it will be vital for insurers to build technical and commercial partnerships with other stakeholders and technology leaders. This should facilitate them in accelerating product innovation and expanding their digital distribution networks, boding well for the end consumer and helping strengthen the entire insurance ecosystem.

The pandemic-induced online consumer hyperactivity needs optimized digital CX strategies and adequate infrastructure. What, according to you, are the key CX focus areas/challenges that are faced by global enterprises?

Geetanjali: With customers now being able to interact remotely with one or more service providers for their insurance needs, insurers will have to deliver superlative customer experiences in order to attract and retain their customers. This will require insurers to craft simple yet comprehensive digital customer journeys, making sure to cover all touchpoints and providing a wide range of customization options at every step in the customer lifecycle. At the same time, existing physical branches and sales channels will have to be upgraded to ensure consistent customer experiences, thereby calling for a comprehensive Phygital approach when designing CX strategies. From a business viewpoint, developing an omnichannel sales ecosystem that can support increasing levels of personalization will prove to be a formidable challenge.

Before we wrap up, take us through the three must-checks (or more) every Digital Transformation plan needs to follow to ensure successful Digital CX accomplishments.

Geetanjali: While there are many aspects to crafting a successful Digital CX strategy, here are a few must-checks:

  • Being customer-centric and aiming to exceed your customers’ expectations is most important. Understandably, this requires developing a profound understanding of the needs and ambitions of your target customer and using these insights to carve out different strategies for different demographics and customer segments.
  • Secondly, it is critical to maintain a common design philosophy across all digital channels, emphasizing the brand’s core messaging and product promise in every customer interaction.
  • Finally, in order to meet and exceed expectations, it is vital to facilitate highly personalized customer experiences and expand the range of DIY features and options available at every step in the insurance process.