Experiencing a digital transformation in the insurance industry at MLC Life Insurance

Experiencing a digital transformation in the insurance industry at MLC Life Insurance

With digital transformation having an increased impact across all industries, it’s become paramount that companies continuously monitor their operations to ensure they are providing the best possible service to their customers. For Sarv Girn, Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer of MLC Life Insurance, the experience of the customer is considered key.

With a 133-year history and considered the oldest start-up in Australia, MLC Life Insurance has substantial experience in the insurance sector. Having transitioned from NAB ownership to joining the Nippon Life Group of Companies, Girn believes that the change in ownership has allowed MLC Life Insurance to progress its customer experience significantly. “It actually ploughs investments back into the customer offering. The ethos within MLC Life Insurance is that we ensure we put the customer first and investments aim to create platforms for advisers, group funds and end policy holders that are truly customer centric,” says Girn. “That makes us quite unique given Nippon's background, because with the investment in new technologies it’s clear we are really serious about our customers. I believe that is what gives us an edge and it shouldn't be underestimated.”

Utilising technology

As customer demands continue to change, it is important that companies respond and adapt to the latest digital trends in order to stay competitive with industry rivals. From first-hand experience, Girn believes he has an effective understanding of what customers expect from a life insurer. “The demands of the customer have changed because customers expect everything to be done online now. Three years ago, I had a nasty fall where I broke my ankle and ended up in hospital,” explains Girn. “At the time, I was part of another life insurance company and having to make a claim wasn't easy. I couldn't really load all the documents up online and I had to physically go around to a GP, surgeon, and the hospital to get documented proof that I'd been injured, which on crutches is no easy task. What customers are really expecting is to log on to a portal, load up all the information about their claim electronically, track it and get paid automatically.”

With customer requirements in mind, MLC Life Insurance has implemented a new platform called LifeView, which will make the insurance and claims experience easier for members of superannuation funds. The platform is designed to help improve member engagement, automating processes and decreasing response times. “It allows members to manage their insurance needs online and, should they need to make a claim, to be able to track its progress,” says Girn. “This has been great for members because claims can go straight through for assessment without the need for lots of manual paperwork. The portal also offers an integrated experience for trustees and administrators, providing superannuation funds with transparent view of the claims process.”

Transitioning to the cloud

Having moved to the cloud under two years ago, MLC Life Insurance has migrated its services and transformed its infrastructure to ensure it produces the best possible service. Girn affirms that any such transformation is difficult to achieve. “Any migration to the cloud or to a new system is complex. It takes careful planning and because we didn’t actually have a previous system: we had to start off from scratch. Every use of cloud needs to be managed from a risk perspective, so it’s important that we make sure we understand the operational aspects of that outsourcing and look at how we're managing and monitoring it.”

With innovation considered a key component of MLC Life Insurance’s philosophy, Girn believes that it’s vital to innovate and utilise partners to achieve results. “It's extremely important to innovate because our customers are tech-savvy and expect to be able to conduct key elements of their business online. However, we do leverage the broader Nippon Group and look at what other life insurers in the group are doing,” he says. “It’s also vital to keep in touch with our customers in order to gain a better understanding of what issues they have. I’m a firm believer that it doesn't really matter who you work for, it matters who you work with – so for us, having partners out there where you can pick up a phone and say ‘we want to try this experiment, can you help here?’ is the key to innovation.”

In order to ensure that MLC’s success is sustained, Girn points to the development of key partnerships with Indian multinational IT provider Tech Mahindra as well as Salesforce, TCS, Infosys, Microsoft and Oracle and affirms that effective partnerships have been an important component to the transformation. “I think a partnership works well when you've got joint objectives and there's a win-win for both sides. If you have a partner that is always trying to sell you something you don’t need, then it isn't really a partnership,” he explains. “The trick is to find joint objectives because if you've got a partner who's doing a great job implementing your platform and it’s truly strategic, then you can help them grow in another part of the company. It's primarily about understanding the objectives of each other, because if the objectives aren’t aligned, it's never going to be successful, no matter how hard you try.”

Future plans

With sustainability at the forefront of MLC Life Insurance’s strategy, Girn believes it’s important to stay relevant to customers and respond to their demands on a consistent basis. “We have to ensure we're not just effective when dealing with customers, but efficient internally as well because we need to make sure we're going to be around for a long time. Our purpose is ‘a promise for life’, and considering we’ve been in operation since 1886, we want to stay around for a long time to come. It's sustainability in a financial sense, but it’s also vital for us to stay relevant to the community. We're trying to become more sustainable in offering propositions like health and wellbeing when customers are considering life insurance,” explains Girn. “If my life insurer can tell me that I’m eating the wrong things or not exercising enough, and refer me to a gym or a physio, then I'm going to be more likely to stay fit. If they keep me healthy and fitter, then I'm going to like them and they're going to become more sustainable. I believe that helps to re-define life insurance, because a life insurer is primarily a health and well-being company.”

Looking to the future, Girn aims to continue to prioritise customers in order to thrive in the life insurance market. “We're extending our platform even further to our advisers and Group customers to enable further transformation. We also want to look at some really advanced analytics to better understand our customers’ requirements,” he says. “We’re now entering a period where we can use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse customer behaviour and data with their consent and offer a proposition that meets their needs.”

Sarv Girn