The Singaporean market is witnessing significant demand for life and health insurance products. Gaining double digit growth across all product types, the life insurance market paid out more than S$5bn to policyholders and beneficiaries in 2017, with health insurance premiums also totalling S$374mn for YTD Q42017.
Singaporeans are now living to over 80 years of age, where longer lifespans, rising healthcare costs and an increased demand for new digital tools have placed increased pressures on existing insurance incumbents As part of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s efforts to attract foreign investment to further ignite its economy, insurtech startups have brought new business models to the table, as well as new digital technologies, such as chatbots and mobile apps, helping insurance giants to step up to the challenge and remain competitive.
Transforming its service delivery across an entire gamut of insurance services, from Life & Savings, to Health and Property & Casualty, AXA Group has invested in overhauling its outdated processes and adopting a new digital approach in order to cater towards this growing demand.
“Every one of our competitors is utilising self-service tools. At AXA Singapore, we deal with all lines of business,” explains Eric Lelyon, Chief Operating Officer, AXA Singapore. “We have competitors within life insurance and general insurance, such as motor, travel, home and health, but all of them are trying to sell directly to the consumer or tying up with partners to create a digital ecosystem.”
Responsible for insurance policy, AXA’s local customer call centre, as well as its IT and transformation projects, Lelyon has also sought to protect customer data as part of his role as Data Privacy Officer. As the customer’s need for personalised, digital services continue to grow at scale, it will remain imperative for AXA to adopt customer-centric engagement strategies to win and retain the trust of its customers, and embed a blended approach in delivering personalised products and services at a corporate and individual level.
“In Singapore, our life insurance segment has been auto-equipped with Digital technologies across sales, services and marketing. We are very proud of our digital transformation projects, where we have up to 90% adoption rate on our sales tool. Our agents are selling most of our products online, which will bring significant advantages. The next step for us will be an offline version, which we will be launching shortly, enabling agents to sell faster, better and offer more choices and convenience for customers. We are equipping our sales force with innovative digital tools to engage and close a case with customers in minutes,” he says.
In order to reduce paperwork and enable faster policy issuance turnaround, the business has therefore worked to overhaul its backend capabilities and upgraded its outdated systems to provide not only cost-efficiency, but to minimise human error and deliver exceptional support to its digital savvy customers.
“There was a lot of transformation in the backend because we didn’t need anyone to do the processing anymore, but we did need to factor in regulatory checks. However, we are now looking to change our back-end system as well, for a system more flexible and cheaper to implement a new product,” states Lelyon.
Reducing its dependence on legacy systems and bringing a complete omnichannel experience to the table, AXA has sought to fully empower its customers. By taking an in-depth look at its distribution models, it has overhauled a number of its processes, leveraging new technologies along the way.
“With our life insurance, our agents make up more than two thirds of the business. We also sell insurance to the post offices, for example, as well as financial advisors (FA). We are also exploring the increased value of APIs through an Insurance as a Service proposition. We can do much more on the General Insurance side, selling direct to the customer through the phone or through digital means, but the intermediary must always remain. We are investing in checking-up on the customer, ascertaining their needs before moving to a business process,” he says.
Investing in new technologies and business processes, the growing number of cyber-attacks is an area of focus which has remained firmly on top of the agenda for AXA. High-profile breaches have led to increased fears on an international scale, particularly for businesses which hold vast quantities of consumer data. Investing in the development of a new security protocols to safeguard all data under its portfolio, AXA has partnered with KPMG, undertaking a number of assessments to ensure its effectiveness, as well as implemented cloud technology to further secure all customer-related information.
However, such change is not without its challenges. Transforming its organisational structure and processes has no doubt led to a cultural seachange at AXA, where the move towards digital integration has created a ripple effect across its operations.
“We are using this fantastic new tool to allow straight-forward process where there is a lot of change at the organisation and the people who are working for us. At the same time that we are launching this new tool we need to decommission the legacy. We are eradicating all the old tools one by one which will make us more agile. Nonetheless, because we've got so many areas where we have the new operating model and the old operating model working next together, it is not efficient with regards to cost efficiency,” explains Lelyon.
“I am working with two hands – one is to be definitive to the lives of our customers and to go faster to enable a positive customer experience. The second is to do with cost control, where I am looking at this further. The work will show it really has been the teams of people in our company that are really understanding this and where we are moving to.”
With an emphasis on innovation, AXA will continually make insurance personal and simple at every touch point, utilising omnichannel data and solutions to better address the current and future needs of its customers, moving from a payer to a partner.
“What AXA is trying to move to is more servicing. We want to become a partner of the customer, rather than a payer,” notes Lelyon. “We want to offer more services to the customer, particularly on the health side where we are exploring a growing interest in health and wellness solutions. We are really excited about transforming our IT ecosystem, build stronger relationships with our customers where we can take care of them.”