How HDFC Life is future-proofing experiences in the digital economy

Man looking at mobile phone

India’s HDFC Life Insurance approaches data and privacy with one question: with every interaction they have with the brand, what does the customer get in return for sharing information?

Customer data is inherent to any life insurance organisation. Everything from standard contact details to extremely personal health and financial data is critical to the products HDFC Life offers.

And while this data has always been required for insurance companies, the rapid digital transformation of the past two years has helped HDFC Life innovate how it is sourced and used, dramatically improving their customer experiences.

Digital transformation creates more opportunities

Having already started their digital transformation journey prior to the pandemic, the company was well placed to embrace the rush of customers to their digital channels efficiently and effectively.

While there was initially some hesitancy from both the distribution and customer sides, the shift to digital adoption was quick and now stands at close to 100 percent.

“The last two years, in a sense, kind of ensured that all stakeholders were on board as far as consumer experience is concerned,” says Vishal Subharwal, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of E-commerce and Digital Business at HDFC Life.

“You [no longer] need to convince the leadership team to invest in digital. You don't have to convince consumers to come in or transact digitally, you don't have to convince your distributors to go digital.”

The challenge now is to continue meeting the ever-rising expectations of customers who don't just compare brand experiences in the same category but across industries. Now, as Vishal notes, customers are comparing the experience they have with HDFC Life to the best experiences they have with all brands – from big tech to retail and beyond

For a product or service with a complex and protracted buying journey – like insurance – there is a challenge and an opportunity for marketers to think outside the box and elevate their CX beyond the ordinary.

“What it means for companies like HDFC Life is we are continuously pushing ourselves in terms of looking, and re-looking, at the consumer journey and really looking at user experience,” Vishal says.

One way HDFC Life pushes boundaries is by leveraging data and integrations with other financial services and government agencies to streamline and personalise customer experiences.

By allowing customers to consent to HDFC Life using their mobile numbers and bank details to sync with other connected services and institutions, they can more efficiently process things like credit checks and other financial requirements, which historically took days to turn around.

This ultimately means that customers receive a more agile and seamless experience while still feeling in control of their data.

Balancing personalisation and privacy

Leveraging data is critical to meeting these rising customer expectations, but at the same time, 79 percent of APAC consumers say they’re concerned about how brands use their data.

Insurance in general, and life insurance in particular, is built on trust. As Vishal says: “Insurance is the business of utmost good faith.”

“Coming from the HDFC stable, we are very focused on managing risk, managing customer privacy and managing data.”

The Adobe Trust Report: APAC found customers will stop buying from a brand if they use their data without permission (68 percent), experience a data breach (67 percent), or disrespect their data preferences (66 percent).

The two-way trade-off with customers is essential in building trust, ensuring customers understand how their data will be used and the value of sharing that data.

While regulatory changes are propelling data governance and privacy initiatives for brands, it’s imperative that marketers don’t wait to implement these changes.

“It creates extra onus on us to ensure that we don't breach this trust,” Vishal says.

“But at the same time consumers are willing to share data to have a good user experience.”

Ultimately, striking that balance and demonstrating value to the customer is essential to delivering innovative, engaging and impactful experiences in the digital economy. Giving the customer the right content at the right time and place is key to building that foundation of trust.

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