Over the last few decades, the advent of technology has positively impacted every facet of our daily lives.

It has created unmatched convenience and value for users across various industries. It ensures that consumers are empowered to take various financial decisions independently and at a time and place of their convenience.

In the life insurance industry, the role of technology has become increasingly visible over the last few years. Many insurers are making the transition towards technology-intensive processes and systems by offering products online.

More convenient

Technology has today empowered the customer to research, compare and transact online for his varied insurance needs. It also enables him to use the Internet for paying premiums, switching funds, premium redirection and, most importantly, for claims intimation.

Not only does this lead to enhanced convenience, but it also provides increased transparency to customers. In an industry that has an element of trust as its very foundation, increased transparency goes a long way in fostering a long-term relationship between the customer and the industry.

CUSTOMER SERVICES

Technology has positively impacted the very nature of the insurer-customer relationship. It has empowered and equipped the financial adviser to provide better services to his customers.

The adviser is now able to use technological innovations such as tablet devices to provide various product features and illustrations to the customer.

In addition, the adviser can now scan all the relevant documents of the customer and directly upload them for further processing. This enables the transaction to be completed in one go and eliminates the need to pick up documents, go to the nearest branch of the insurer to log them for further processing.

This not only significantly reduces the policy issuance time for the customer, but also provides a convenient and hassle-free experience that gets completed in a single meeting.

The process of getting a new customer inducted on to the systems of an insurer, termed as ‘on-boarding’, requires detailed documentation and operational processes, which have been significantly simplified due to adoption of technology.

IMPACT ON DISTRIBUTORS

Effective technology solutions also ensure capacity creation for distributors. Technology has not, in any form, threatened the growth prospects of the existing distribution channels nor has it made the existing distribution strategies redundant.

In fact, it has supported those channels and created better opportunities for growth and accessibility to customers.

Technology-driven aspects such as offering products online and enabling online processing of documentation can also lower the cost of processing and servicing, which can be passed on to customers in the form of lower rates in addition to providing unmatched convenience, service and transparency.

This combined offering of convenience, lower rates and reduced time of policy issuance in addition to enhanced transparency has made a strong case for the industry to adopt technology at every step of the way.

Effective utilisation of technology can help us address various business challenges and more importantly, allows the industry to significantly raise the bar for customer experience and service.

(The author is CEO and MD, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.)

(This article was published on July 18, 2012)
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