FWD Insurance: disrupting the insurance industry in Thailand

FWD Insurance: disrupting the insurance industry in Thailand

Focused on creating fresh customer experiences through the use of digital technology, FWD Insurance has a vision to change the way people feel about insurance.

Providing life and medical insurance, general insurance and employee benefits, it has expanded its footprint to Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

FWD in Thailand, however, is focusing on life insurance, employee benefits and investment-linked insurance.

Such is its impressive growth, the business has become renowned in Thailand’s insurance market, with over 800,000 customers nationwide, earning the country’s top company award in insurance by Business Plus Magazine in conjunction with the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce this year, as well as CMO Asia’s Thailand Brand Leadership Awards in its insurance category.  Recently in 2018, FWD Thailand earned the Best Contact Center Award and the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award from Thai Contact Center Trade Association.

As technology continues to revolutionise the way we live, work and engage with traditional services, companies are frequently investing in new tools in order to appeal towards a wider target audience. Millennials, in particular, are demanding greater accessibility, rapid engagement and a greater choice of products and services at affordable prices.

With experience working for a number of esteemed companies, such as Tetra Pak, Generali Insurance and Bupa Health Insurance, Verapat Chantaravannakul joined FWD Thailand in 2016 to implement its long-term digital strategy and become part of an exceptional, award winning business.

Appointed as Chief Information Technology Officer, Chantaravannakul has delivered new initiatives whilst maintaining everyday functionalities. He has also launched new ways of working in alignment with the company’s vision. By fully adopting an entrepreneurial leadership style, he has promoted agility across all business fronts.

“I'm always the one who jumps up to do something new. It is about inspiring people with a new mindset to change their processes using technology to better serve the customer. It is not just about the tools, it’s about people’s mindsets,” he says.

“Our uniqueness is that we are the insurance company with a startup mindset. We're working very fast – we try to give experiences to the customer that work; get feedback quickly, and continuously improve our propositions.”

With over 25 years’ experience, Chantaravannakul has gained a greater understanding of the value that technology can bring. However, this is with the caveat that longstanding employees, some with decades of experience at the company, have to also see this value in order for the business to reap financial rewards.  

Providing mindset and culture training which is open for any interested employee, the business has therefore focused on making its workers more agile and has also worked to enhance their emotional intelligence.

“We can customise our courses which are open for all employees to better understand who they are as a person. What are their key strengths against particular areas of improvement? At the same time, infusing the Agile mindset and Lean thinking, which we believe are the key ingredients for our highly dynamic and fast-moving environment” adds Chantaravannakul.

For FWD Thailand, ‘digital’ doesn’t solely encompass IT or technology, but is a mixture between customer centricity, marketing, operations and IT. Over 150 people from multiple departments consequently form part of its digital operations.

Changing markets

Combining a fast-moving market with its ambition to provide outstanding customer experience and change peoples’ views on insurance, FWD Thailand has sought to utilise a blend of in-house and outsourced solutions. Whilst its in-house team has focused on its business domain and use of available technology, as well as all integration and all governance requirements, its exploration of new technologies has been outsourced with close collaboration along with in-house technology leaders.  This provides the advantage of fast-moving technology skillsets and the alignment with business domain knowledge.

“The cost of technology is approximately the same everywhere but when it comes to implementing these technologies, especially in the insurance industry, the customisation to fit local culture, regulation and local recreation is mandatory,” explains Chantaravannakul.

“The challenge is balancing the standard technology used which gives us better leverage in terms of cost, but also the local customisation. This is quite a challenge, but we handle it quite well.”

Delivering an array of products, FWD’s Call Center and Chatbots remain areas which provide direct impact to the customers. Additionally, its API Gateway and microservices platform on the cloud have guaranteed further flexibility and a quicker time to market.

Through engagement platform application, FWD MAX, customers are also able to gain rewards. By tracking their activity, such as jogging and running, customers can earn loyalty points which can be redeemed at various places the company is partnered with, such as coffee shops, wellness and lifestyle recreation facilities.

Across its entire portfolio, personalised customer services have become vital to FWD Thailand’s success. Through its customer portal, big data and customer analytics are utilised in order for the business to gain a greater understanding of customer needs, where various products and services are then matched to each customer.

On top of using popular instant messaging system, LINE, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and personal agents that engage with customers, the company has retained its call centre, which has been recognised as one of the most distinguished customer contact centres in Thailand, winning the government’s Consumer Protection Call Centre Award in 2017.

Seamless collaboration

By embracing long-term partnerships, particularly in bancassurance, FWD Thailand renewed its existing partnership with TMB Bank in 2017, forming a critical part of the company’s growth.   

“We have been partnered with TMB Bank for more than 10 years, and have signed on for another 15 years. I would say it's a bit unique and not just a normal broker or intermediary partnership. It's somewhat like the hand and hand management consideration when it comes to thinking about customers,” observes Chantaravannakul.

“TMB said they want to make the difference in the financial world. We say we want to change the way people feel about insurance. It is all about giving something inherently better to the customer, so the strategy of the two aligned closely.”

“Additionally, C2L BIZ is one of our long-term partners, providing service and support in several key systems.  In our front office layer, we are using their SymbioSys platform, which integrates well with our core policy admin system.  We also use their Distribution Management System (DMS) for sales commission and compensation.”

Throughout its mission to revolutionise the customer journey, FWD Thailand’s sister company, PCCW Solutions, has also become significantly advanced with regards to its technology. Furthermore, the company’s partnership with system integrator, Golden High, has supported the company to overhaul its customer communication engagement platform. 

“Golden High have been providing the service for our sister entities in Hong Kong, as well as other countries where we market,” notes Chantaravannakul. “Golden High have expertise in terms of handling this communication management platform and have been selected as our lead implementer in Thailand. They are really flexible, and I like them because in FWD Thailand we work our technology enabler from a business-value-creation point of view and they are flexible enough to adjust themselves and embrace our Agile way of working.”

With the aim to change the way people feel about insurance and better serve its customers through the use of digital technology and data, FWD Thailand will continue to look at further opportunities to drive the business forward.

“We will use technology throughout our transformation to change the inside of our organisation, while also innovating products and services which we give to our customers,” observes Chantaravannakul.

“But then what would be the destination? The world changes so fast, but one thing we know, we have to hold to the heart in giving the best to our customers, which remains the first priority for us.”