Languages will be vital in engaging customers digitally

The focus of the BFSI industry has shifted from digital-in-the-physical to human-in-the-digital, said a panelist at the BFSI Leadership Summit 2021.

The focus of the BFSI industry has shifted from digital-in-the-physical to human-in-the-digital, noted KV Dipu, Head-Operations and Customer Service, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, at the BFSI Leadership Summit 2021, hosted by YourStory and EnterpriseStory on July 16.

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"Companies in the banking, financial services and insurance industries (BFSI) are faced with the challenge of how to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for customer-centricity," Dipu told Shivani Muthana, Senior Anchor, YourStory Media, during a panel discussion on 'BFSI priorities in a post-COVID world'.

In a country as diverse as India, where customers speak many languages, bots that interact with customers should be capable of speaking in these languages, he said.

“While we go to bots for efficiency and consistency, what the customer expects is empathy and a healing touch because they are calling us when they are in trouble,” Dipu said, referring to the insurance industry.

COVID-19 has made BFSI players rethink their traditional operating model, business models and customer value propositions. The thrust must become a part of business strategy and organisational culture after the pandemic subsides, the panelists said.

“The first wave gave us a certain amount of confidence that we did the right things and were able to weather the storm," said Vivek Ramji Iyer, Partner - Risk Advisory, and National Leader of Financial Services, Grant Thornton Bharat. "The second wave exposed a lot of vulnerabilities."

“Everyone stepped up and asked businesses to add a certain amount of COVID-care as part of their insurance policy," he added.

The panelists agreed that COVID-19 accelerated digitisation and increased business significantly through digital platforms and portals. This trend is here to stay.

Plum Benefits, a B2B health insurance provider, saw massive interest in health insurance among employers and employees. "We don’t have to push the product anymore," said Abhishek Poddar, CEO of Plum Benefits. All the adoption is happening organically, he added.

The industry's relationship with agents also went digital after the lockdowns, noted Dipu of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. “Since insurance is distribution-led, we enabled our partners to carry out transactions without coming to office. It was completely paperless,” he explained.

For an industry that has been working through the pandemic, it took some time to internalise how processes and services should be, said Jonathan Pipe, CEO of Aon India Insurance Brokers.

“After the business continuity plan was up and running, and we adopted digital, it took some time for existing clients to be confident that the team can still support their needs," Pipe recalled.

"We then looked at what it means for our business strategy, and what it means for the industry in terms of solutions," he said, adding that a digital transformation strategy before the pandemic would have looked very different from the needs that emerged during the lockdowns.

Grant Thornton Bharat worked with its risk advisory clients to optimise processes and identify pitfalls from a regulatory standpoint. "We also had to understand the asks from regulators, and get clarity through guidelines or shared conversations," Iyer added.

Watch all videos of the BFSI Leadership Summit 2021 here.

Edited by Kunal Talgeri