Since its first appearance in Wuhan, China the COVID19 has affected many countries across the world. To slow the spread of the virus, countries across the world are under lockdown. Correspondingly, it has been in place for about two months in Bangladesh. Despite the losses due to economic inactivity, public health must be prioritized. However, the unavailability of essential financial services can prove catastrophic in these trying times. In such a critical juncture, companies are adopting work-from-home to provide vital services while maintaining social distancing regulations.
Leading by Example
Life Insurance has become one of the most vital financial services in the post COVID19 world. The assurance of life insurance is providing respite for people at this hour of calamity. Conversely, the ongoing lockdown has posed a significant challenge for the insurance industry. As the pandemic situation continues, they are innovating ways to provide uninterrupted client services. Guardian Life Insurance Limited (GLIL) has been one of the most diligent companies throughout the pandemic in ensuring exceptional client service. They have revised and adapted their whole modus operandi and the value delivery chain to ensure the best services for their customers and stakeholders. The first step was to let people know that “Guardian Life is open for business” and all the commitments made to the customers shall be kept under any circumstances. It was ensured via extensive internal and external communications using both traditional and digital channels.
Work from Home
GLIL employees have adopted work from home (WFH) facilities to continue their business operations during this pandemic. The company has been supporting its stakeholders by adopting technology coupled with a robust business continuity plan. Their ethos, "A promise is a promise" is a testimony to the support it has been providing to its customers, partners, agents, and communities. GLIL has ensured that its customers get their entitled policy benefits without any inconvenience and minimal lead time.
Due to social distancing obligations, continuing operations remotely has become mandatory. GLIL was prudent in adopting work-from-home and averted any mismanagement through foresight and planning. Interestingly, it was prepared for remote working much before the lockdown was announced.
Business continuity planning along with swift technology adoption has been crucial in ensuring the seamless transition. Tools such as best-in-class conferencing platforms (Cisco Webex), computers, email, phone conferencing, and access to internal networks are ensured with a secure Wi-Fi network and a trusted virtual private network (VPN).
One of the most crucial elements of a work from home policy is trust and belief. Employers need to have trust in their employees to get their jobs done when they are not working onsite. GLIL has been successful in communicating the essence of its philosophy with its employees resulting in superior performance and swift transition.
Success through Synergy
To ensure the right customer value delivery, all the departments of GLIL have come together with the right synergy while harnessing the empowerment of technology. The primary obligation of a life insurance company is paying claims. Hence, the finance team initiated an online corporate payment platform within least possible time. They have shifted all their processes online and are paying out bills and claims online. The claims team completely revamped their process and launched Online Claim Submission (OCS) platform for online claim submission and settlement; this is a first for the industry. They are actively receiving, reviewing, and settling claims online while providing guarantee of payment (GoP) facility and hospitalization support 24/7.
The customer support team is operating the entire call center from home and ensuring customer service in collaboration with front-office and back-office teams via telecommuting. The corporate service team is also ensuring client servicing and contract renewals virtually.
The aggregator based business teams have effectively shifted to virtual communication models for lead generation, sales calls, and business closing. Agreements are being signed off remotely via e-document and e-signature. They are now innovating custom-fit product solutions, recently they have launched “Corona Safety Net”, a special corporate insurance plan that can be availed by banks to secure their frontline employees who are prone to risk.
The retail business has gone 100% paperless with the monthly business closing happening online with the virtual collaboration of the underwriting team. The underwriting team is also ensuring coverage and renewal payments remotely. Regional teams and contractual sales teams are meeting via Skype and closing business virtually. The digital sales team is also driving sales in full force with a fully active telesales team from home.
“GLIL has always believed that ensuring core competence is the key. We have implemented online soft skills training for all the employees at the back and front office. Skills such as active listening, collaboration, presenting ideas and communicating with colleagues have enhanced our employees' ability to perform more efficiently. While nurturing the permanent staff is crucial, life insurance is a business largely driven by the agents. Hence, under the project "Learning and earning”, agents across the country are under virtual training programs that will enhance their skills. The programs also provide sizable training allowances which will aid the agents’ income during lockdown. Overall, we are having a great momentum here even under lockdown! I feel the energy and enthusiasm is praiseworthy and the credit definitely goes to my senior leadership team members” said M M Monirul Alam, MD & CEO of Guardian Life.
COVID19 is going to change the world forever. The world will endure its agony after the pandemic is eventually over. It is already reshaping the way we work and how companies operate and emphasizing the importance of contingency plans. Guardian Life Insurance Limited has proved that foresight and competency can go a long way in providing the best customer service at the face of crisis. They have set the benchmark for quality assurance and product delivery for other companies to follow.
(The writer is Senior Vice President & Head of Marketing & Communication of Guardian Life Insurance Ltd.
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