The Edelweiss Group is one of India’s leading diversified financial services conglomerates providing a broad range of financial products and services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, institutions and individuals.
Shanai spearheads Edelweiss’s newest business, Edelweiss General Insurance. She has been with Edelweiss General Insurance for two years and has been closely involved in setting up and launching of the business. She took over as the Executive Director & CEO of the company in May 2019.
At Edelweiss General Insurance, Shanai aims to build a technology-based general insurance platform that will change customer experience in insurance. To her, the GI industry is the FMCG of financial services and she aspires to transform customer journeys through effective use of technology and unique product and service innovations that fulfil customer requirements.
Medianews4U spoke to Shanai Ghosh – Executive Director & CEO, Edelweiss General Insurance on how this sector is dealing with the pandemic and their communication strategy going forward.
The lockdown has created a different kind of crisis, how is Edelweiss General Insurance coping?
Edelweiss General Insurance is a cloud-native company and hence, we have always had a digital operating model. Our sales and renewals have always been paperless, making our “work-from-home” transition, extremely smooth. In fact, we implemented this much before the lockdown was announced, keeping in mind the safety of our employees. We have a dedicated task force tracking the situation and updating on developments related to the pandemic, thereby enabling the remote working of all our employee teams.
Prior to the lockdown, we had implemented several initiatives to ensure the hygiene and safety of our premises with mandatory temperature through thermal guns, easily accessible sanitizers around workspaces and restricting travel, domestic and international, in addition to monitoring employee and family health. We actively compiled a complete database of employees with travel histories of self and families, from end of February, which helped us monitor and identify those with possible exposure. Gradually, we transitioned to ‘Work from Home’, beginning with those employees who commuted using public transport.
We have established daily governance protocols to keep a check on employee and business health and have ensured employee discipline through regular monitoring of business operations, via virtual mediums. We have extensively leveraged technology to stay connected and ensure business as usual, in these tough times also.
We have also continually engaged with employees and other stakeholders, to assist requisite transitions, in these stressful times.
For employees, we have provided access to various learning platforms, fitness and wellness solutions and engagement activities, to boost mood and uplift morale.
For customers, we have implemented a well-calibrated communication plan, keeping them aware, informed and reassured.
For our distribution partners, we have focused on staying connected and improving productivity and enhancing capabilities through our platform and additional training resources.
How are you reaching out and engaging with your customers in this crisis? What is your strategy?
Our response to this situation, has been immediate. We activated all communication channels to reach out to our customers, service ecosystem partners, clients etc, as soon as the crisis unfolded, to assure them of our continued support. We launched a holistic customer engagement plan, not only intimating customers on changes in business operations but also educating them about COVID19 and requisite precautionary steps for them and their families, under the circumstances.
We have sent regular SMS communication, appraising customers about our claim processes being completely digital. We updated our website with contact details of key people, to reach out to in case any emergencies or queries. In fact, we also sought and obtained specific approvals on waiving the 30-day waiting period, for our health insurance customers.
We leveraged social media actively and effectively, sharing updates on products and services, Do’s & dont’s and busting myths. We are also running a monthly podcast, for our partners, in which we give provide organizational updates. We are also planning live Interactive sessions with experts, internally for employees as well as for customers, to resolve queries on COVID 19.
Similarly, for claims in motor insurance, we have offered spot settlements to customers having their cars with them and not in a garage, using our self-survey app, ‘BOLT’. We had initiated a special outreach program, connecting with all such customers and offering this solution to them.
How much of ad spends on traditional v/s digital now?
We are a digital-first company catering to a majorly digital-savvy customer base. We have always focused on digital being our medium of business and see that continuing for some time.
How are you seeing the Insurance market now during this crisis?
This pandemic has made everyone more cautious and risk-aware. If we look around, we can see customers becoming conscious, of the need of insurance. We have seen a surge in queries related to health insurance lately, but we expect this to translate to other insurance categories as well. As people realise the unpredictability of situations and the impacts on well laid plans, financial and otherwise, more and not less people, will buy insurance, going forward.
Are you seeing a spurt in insurance buying in this period? Explain in detail
As a General Insurance company, we handle multiple lines of Insurance and the response for each of these, differs. Given that we are dealing with a health pandemic, it is obvious that health insurance queries are on the rise. People are increasingly concerned about what their health insurance covers, what it doesn’t, or even if their policies are active.
For motor insurance, we see a lag or sense of postponement, but only because people aren’t driving their vehicles, which will see a positive correction, post the lock-down normalizing. New car insurance, has obviously dipped, given a dip in auto sales in general.
On the commercial front, businesses are now showing increased interest in protecting their assets and adding additional covers for their employees etc. We are hopeful that in the coming months, we will see an uptick in insurance buying, through this enhanced interest.
Post lockdown, what will be your priorities?
Pre, during and post lockdown, protecting the interests of our three key stakeholders – Customers, Partners and Employees, is of paramount importance. Through proactive Business Continuity Planning and other contingency planning measures, we have ensured normalcy in business operations, with no adverse impact.
Post lockdown, our priority would be to ensure safe working environment for our employees and partners, to continue offering seamless customer servicing and experience. With social distancing emerging as the new normal, we are working on initiatives to adhere and implement this as our immediate objective. We also foresee a change in consumer behavior, with increased adoption of digital technologies. We are well placed to leverage this shift, given our digital operating model and our digital B2C and B2B2C platforms.
In general, how are you seeing the economic situation in the country? Do you see insurance being the top priority for people or the opposite?
Economies all over the world, have taken a considerable hit, given the current situation. The coming couple of Quarters, with be crucial and parameters will depend on fast-tracking economic recovery. With liquidity low and unemployment increasing, we will need more fiscal measures to stabilise working and to open stalled supply chains across industries.
In all this, we have witnessed an increased awareness around insurance, with this trend set to continue. We surely think that going forward, insurance is likely to be entrenched in consumer lifestyles with customers taking an increased interest in understanding nuances and coverage of policies. This more educated engagement will translate to insurance being considered a critical risk mitigation solution, rather than a discretionary spend, just as what is happening with health insurance.
Lastly, how are you connecting with your team members and motivating them in these tough times and work from home condition?
This crisis is unpredictable and unprecedented, and while we leveraged technology to stay connected etc., we also looked at initiatives to manage anxiety among employees. For many, remote working was a totally new way of functioning and difficult as a transition. The lack of community interaction and self-isolation was also a huge concern. To counter this, we established informal channels where we encouraged employees to come together as a community and engage each other through virtual employee engagement initiatives. From connect sessions with leadership to virtual coffee-breaks, birthdays, online learning and our human resources team managed to keep us motivated and fit.
We realised that in like these, it is crucial to make employees feel valued and secure, and we are taking every measure possible, to extend support to all our employees. As part of the Edelweiss Group, we have launched helplines to answer health-related queries and offer general counseling. Our overall focus, has been, to stay connected as a community and ensuring the mental and physical wellbeing of each one of our employees.