#RuralConnect - My SMAC Solution For Bharti AXA

Industries such as retail, fast moving consumer goods and healthcare have already succeeded in penetrating the huge rural market of India with their products & services. The dramatic shift in consumer behavior and the impact of digital has made it possible. It has created huge opportunities in under served markets. This would include the high growth in internet penetration rate and the rise of smart phones. Insurance, a very impressive and ever growing ecosystem, as an industry has a rich opportunity to transform their business in rural region with the help of a SMAC Model. So what could be a solution that can help insurance market leaders like Bharti AXA to leverage the SMAC model to increase penetration of their insurance products in rural region and Tier II Cities? Let's take a deep look.  

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In most of the cases, the insurance agents have always been concentrating on customer segment which offers high commissions and easiest win rates. This segment is more of middle aged and relatively well off customers. The younger and less wealthy people have always been ignored in my experience of working with few insurance clients. The reason behind this is, many young people don't find insurance relevant to them and same is the case with less wealthy people, as they think insurance is either not designed for them or they couldn't afford them. 

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To avoid this in my opinion, Bharti AXA should move from a product focused approach to a rural customer centric approach. Though this is challenging as the transformation might demand a very high level of consumer engagement that businesses lack because of lack of experience or data in this consumer segment. Even if the company is equipped with data, converting them to an insight would prove to be a challenging task. The challenges for companies like Bharti AXA also lies in long lead times, as the process involves initial interaction followed by customer signing off policies as the insurers profile the customers, advise them to take medical checks and then advise on options available. 

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The abondon rates have always been high, but this challenge could be overcome if people are equipped with information such as what they want, how they want it, when and where they would like to receive it. So my opinion is to design a model where social and mobile could be used to drive consumer engagement, analytics to measure what's working and what's not and the cloud services to make it all a seamless experience for both the customers and the insurers. A system which is capable of 
  • Creating a emotional connect between Bharti AXA and their target customers
  • Increasing meaningful conversations between customers and Bharti AXA agents
  • Tailoring cross-channel promotions and tracking consumer behavior
  • Providing a seamless and simple interface (Open communication channel) between the Bharti AXA and consumers
  • Improving the relevance of insurance offerings to the consumer
Social - A channel where consumers develop a perception towards a brand, which will have a deep impact in their purchasing decisions. The social model for Bharti AXA should be capable of picking up signals which could be converted to sales leads instantly. The channel should also be used to track the response and the impact, the promotion channels delivered. The channel will work like a dream, if risk events are tracked & communicated to the customers conveying the message that the brand cares for them even if they are not the existing customers. This will help resulting in lesser loss events and will prove to be a model of customer engagement

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The millenials and Gen-x customers even from Tier II cities take informed decisions these days by using social media to compare and buy products. A simple off-the shelf option is definitely not going to convince them. The social customer engagement model to be adopted by Bharti AXA should be capable of providing a personalized experience to the consumers coupled with self less educational tips resulting in more engagement. Social advertising strategy should also focus on seamlessly pushing the lead down the sales funnel to mobile/agents for a quicker close in sale

Mobile - The key channel to reduce the long lead times and underwriting costs in Tier II cities and rural region. Bharti AXA should focus on creating a mobile ecosystem which will seamlessly and efficiently access the wellness and health data from consumers in this segment. This insight should be used to effectively tailor insurance related solutions. The privacy of consumer information will be crucial here. The customers are always willing to share their data as long as there's a benefit attached to it. 

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Mobile could help establish Bharti AXA a trusted health and life advisor resulting in long term engagement and constant brand awareness, if the channel was used to educate the audience rather than being extremely focused on pushing the product pitches. The mobile strategy shouldn't just be restricted to smart-phones as the targeted consumer segment is dominated by feature phones. By adding missed call marketing (Pull mechanism) and accessible toll free numbers to the promotional channels, Bharti AXA can multiply brand awareness, consumer engagement and also be capable of reaping more qualified and informed leads which can be pushed down the funnel resulting in early closure. 

Analytics - The analytics system of Bharti AXA should be capable of augmenting the data acquired through social & mobile along with unstructured big data acquired through traditional channels such as e-mail, inbound calls, form requests and agent references. The insight gained out of this process will be absolutely critical to sharpen risk, tailor products to needs & transform the experience around personal preferences

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Real time insights into the consumer behavior & health will also eliminate the need for medical checks resulting in faster processing of applications. People at all the levels of Bharti AXA need to comfortable with the decision making capability of the analytics system, as this will help them quickly respond to digital signals (Coming from top of the funnel - Social & Mobile) an also adapt to the changing life stages. The customer preference learned from the analytics model should be fed back to the social & mobile funnel, in order to optimize the personalized experience resulting in increased brand awareness and consumer engagement. 

Cloud - The technology which will reduce the high fixed costs by a large margin, which has been incurred historically by several start-ups in this segment. At a very little expense, Bharti AXA should be able to reduce barriers to market entry and increase the processing power. 

The cloud technology for Bharti AXA should be capable of handling peaks in demand at lower effort and cost, lower risk, reduce the cost & time reqd for piloting new projects, maintain differentiation in a dynamic market place coupled with the ability to give a unified view of customer information to tailor solutions. Beyond cost savings, the cloud should contribute Bharti AXA in building a flexible ecosystem (Underwriting, Back office fulfillment and product development) with more pervasive and powerful analytics, provide a cost-effective platform to drive business intelligence, run through vast amount of data and predict, analyze customer behavior and improve the speed of responses to customer's needs. 

The real power of SMAC is experienced only when all the four technologies are used together, giving insurers a 360 degree overview of the customer. That's exactly what I've suggested in my model for Bharti AXA. In my humble opinion, with this integrated approach Bharti AXA will be able to increase the penetration of their products in Tier II Cities & Rural region maximizing the brand awareness and consumer engagement along with understanding and meeting their customer needs.

Thank you CapGemini's Super Techies Show for giving me an opportunity to write on this topic. 



Raj Kumar Sandesh said...

Beautifully written. I bet Bharti Axa folks are going to hire you for this :-)

Kushal Das said...

Good one Deepan. The best part was, when you asked the brand not to restrict their mobile strategy to smartphones. True that. If you want to sell in rural region, u better communicate how they wanted you to. Nicely put.

Tejaswini said...

Fantastic blog Deepan!

Tech Quake said...

The solution was just brilliant. There cannot be a better way to sell your products and services in rural India, unless you prefer a customer centric strategy over product centric strategy. Thanks for sharing this deepan

Abhishek Kumar said...

Brilliant article. I watched the show after reading your blog. I wonder why there wasn't enough promotion around it. Such a brilliant show and a great platform for young techies. Both the CRO of Bharti AXA and the senior vp tech from Capgemini were so humble in treating the young techies. Now i'm looking forward to the finale.

Adah Sharma said...

I watched the show Super techies on youtube. Must say it's a wonderful initiative by Capgemini and all the brands associated with them.

Kate Rushton said...

A fantastic well-rounded insight

Minesh Chitgopkar said...

Fantastic write up and you are spot on Deepan on identifying cutting edge technologies and also aligning with business gaps currently many companies are facing to pe nitrate tier 2&3 rural areas great thought and excellent solution hope Bharti or other insurance companies will call you to implement this for them :-) well done keep up the great going my friend