Kunal Anand is Chief Operations and Customer Services Officer of Aviva India. He has been in the Insurance and Pension business, for over 30 years. Kunal has been with Aviva since 2004 and was instrumental in setting up the Banca Assurance business at Aviva India, while managing all key partnerships for Aviva India, Kunal is actively involved in providing strategic leadership to the business. He speaks to ET Edge Insights, about the importance of retaining and managing customers, and on the criticality of attracting and holding on to the right talent, while balancing technology in the present new world conditions.
1. Give us a sense of understanding on how important it is to attract and retain customers in the post covid world.
After two years of the pandemic, the key to survival for any company is its customer retention. The retention rate speaks for itself. It results in being profitable and helps eliminate new customer recruitment marketing costs.
With the pandemic panning in and technological disruptions taking the front seat, to stay relevant, we also took all necessary steps and accelerated the digitization of our operations to ensure hassle-free digital services to our customers. We have been ensuring that our employees have access to all necessary technology to serve our customers better. For example, a virtual calling platform with dedicated telephone numbers through cloud functionality to enable call centers, online tools, secured video conferencing applications, etc. Keeping in mind that not all customers are tech-savvy, we have even assisted them in getting accustomed to digital means by using video calls to help them in real-time or providing step-by step videos for reference.
Every customer experience leads to either stronger relationships or dissatisfaction. To ensure customer loyalty, we guarantee solid customer service where we address their feedback and keep improving our offerings.
2. How critical is it for Aviva to establish the right skills and the right talent in an evolving work environment?
The future of work, defined by using more automation and technology, was always coming. COVID-19 has hastened the pace. Employees across all functions, for example, have learned how to complete tasks remotely, using digital communication and collaboration tools. Adapting to digital will no longer be a matter of choice. All jobs will have to be digital or cease to exist across all processes, be it actuarial, customer service and fulfillment, HR, risk, compliance, etc. For example – data from hyper-connected devices and digitization of medical records will influence processes like underwriting and reduce the need for medicals at diagnostic centers. Employees and organizations must adapt to the more significant usage of data and analytics at work.
3. How do you see digital transformation and the need for balancing technology with the human touch?
At Aviva, we have always kept customers at the center of everything we do. We are simplifying our procedures to offer our products online to ease the customer journey. We use a mix of technology solutions for faster and more effective resolution of customer complaints. For example, chatbots replicate the behaviour of a human representative while ensuring the accuracy and efficiency of an advanced machine system. Our state-of-the-art CRM system is fully integrated with a customer portal, mobile application, website, IVR & cloud telephony. This helps us get a unified view of the customer’s journey with us.
We have followed our digital-first approach. To make the customer experience simpler and easier, we undertook various initiatives that help deliver a truly delightful and contactless customer experience during such a crisis. It is no secret that your organization’s culture guides how your employees behave and work. People and culture lie at the heart of organizational performance and typically drive success and failure. This means your culture ultimately determines how and to what extent your employees leverage the digital workplace to connect, communicate and collaborate. The key is to understand how your employees prefer to work. You can then develop a change management plan and digital workplace strategy that aligns with your organization’s working culture.
By fostering cultural change and unifying technology components, the digital workplace can help you improve collaboration, communication, and connections within the organization. Working from Home is the new norm. Seamless, uninterrupted service with laptops, desktops, Wi-Fi, data security, etc., will now form a large part of the employee experience.
4. How is Aviva combating the climate change issue?
Aviva’s purpose is to be “with you today, for a better tomorrow.” We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives. And we are here to help them make the most of life. So, it is of utmost importance for us to live up to our purpose. The first step towards achieving the same is by contributing to the betterment of the environment. According to the IPCC report, it is pretty evident that climate breakdown is occurring quicker than anticipated. At current levels, many parts of the planet will become unlivable in the next few decades. Hence, climate-sensitive policymaking at the national and local levels is only a part of the solution.
We have a very strong vision for the future. Hence, we have been taking many steps towards sustainability and climate change to innovate as a company. In March 2021, Aviva PLC announced its climate goals to:
- Become a net-zero company by 2040
- Achieve a 25% reduction in the carbon intensity of assets by 2025, and 60% by 2030
- Have net-zero operations and supply chain by 2030
Apart from this, Aviva PLC has actively been contributing towards a change. Climate change is a serious concern, and it cannot be solved single-handedly. Hence, they have partnered up with WWF, the world’s leading conservation organization, to take action on climate change collaboratively to create a better tomorrow for both people and the planet.
5. Your thoughts on millennials and Gen Z as buyers for insurance
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have changed people’s perceptions about financial planning. Millennials and Gen Z are realizing the importance of finance more than any generation has before. Gen-Z is engaging in conversations revolving around brands and their purposes. They desire to be involved in the narrative that the brand desires to drive and deliver.
They are highly aware of the options available to them, and they perform thorough research, using blogs and reviews to understand Insurance Products, comparing benefits on insurance aggregator sites, and then making an informed buying decision. The famous ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach does not work anymore. With an array of options, the young customers of today demand customized, personalized, and intuitive policies. To cater to Gen Z, we have been evolving our marketing strategies constantly to cater to our customers. We focus on targeted communication to ensure messaging reaches them to build more sustainable brand equity without any wasteful efforts.