“Mr. Puneet Pasricha is the President – Institutional Business & Corporate Strategy at Liberty Videocon General Insurance Co. Ltd., which started operating in 2013. He has been one of the key members of the startup team of this joint venture, serving as the key contact person to build and manage relationships with the joint venture partner and the Indian Insurance Regulator. From successfully setting up the company ground up in India, and heading its operations and customer experience vertical, to now overseeing the P&L of Institutional Business with an additional portfolio of Corporate Strategy, it has been a successful journey for Puneet so far. His peers in the industry (who endearingly call him “Pasha”) acknowledge the sheer ease with which he has successfully implemented successful global business operation models in the Indian context. Secret of his success, as he himself describes it – “it’s the honest and basic ground work which matters”
Here’s is a snippet of the interaction with Mr. Puneet Pasricha on multitude of subject matters relevant to the insurance fraternity at large.
Question: You were extremely well settled in US and your career was zooming high, what made you come back to India?
Answer: After cutting my teeth with a wide variety of management roles in New Businesses, Strategy & Business Planning, Mergers & Acquisition and Operations Management, I was looking out for a more challenging assignment. As they say, opportunities are best created. Going by that rule, I drew up the India entry strategy plan for Liberty, put across the idea to the senior management and got the approval. The sheer enormity of the Indian opportunity and the ability of Liberty to take a substantial position in the Indian market struck the right chord with the then Chairman of Liberty Mutual, and he gave us the thumbs up to go ahead and write the Liberty India story. Building the road map and chalking out the entry of Global Conglomerate – Liberty Mutual in the Sub Continent was a really cherishing experience.
Question: If you had to sum up the Liberty India set up experience, how would you state that?
Answer: When I look back at those eventful years, the only thought which strikes my mind is “Well begun is half done”, that was the essence and the ingredient for the seamless execution and set up of the Liberty Videocon operation. It has given me some extremely outstanding exposure and everlasting learnings as a professional.
I was inherently instrumental in setting up the joint venture, Liberty Videocon General Insurance Company Limited, serving as the key contact person to build and manage relationships with our joint venture partner and the Indian Insurance Regulator. Once the core management team was in place, I moved on to establish the Operations and Customer Experience vertical. The highpoint in this set up journey came in when we were felicitated for our Consumer Centricity by ETIG group, in the second year of our operation.
Question: Tell us something about the new role and the recent elevation?
Answer: I have always had the itch for venturing into new untried territories to figure out the method in the madness and make it a success in my own way. The recent elevation as the President of Institutional Business & Head of Corporate Strategy is another step in this direction for me. As an entity, we have been gearing up for the next phase of exponential growth, and the recent role elevation has been in line with that objective. Along with this, I am one of the thought leaders for Digital development and Innovation for the Liberty Mutual Group. This is an area I am passionate about and as part of the Global Digital team I am leading some initiatives to explore new areas of disruption in the financial services space.
Question: Customer Experience is the buzz word these days, what’s your view on that?
Answer: I firmly believe that customer is at the core of any product or service that is existing or the one that existed in the market. All my career has revolved around Insurance which is all about understanding people, their lifestyle and their exposure to and understanding of various risks. Hence as a corollary to my interest in insurance domain, understanding customer behavior and attitudes too has become a critical area of interest.
The starting point to this tenet is the acknowledgement that- Customer Experience & Customer Service are two distinctly different things. In most cases, a customer’s first point of contact with a company is usually through interacting with an employee (either by visiting a branch or by speaking on the phone). This gives your business an opportunity to deliver excellent customer service.
However, customer service is only one aspect of the entire customer experience. For example, if you book a vacation on the phone and the person you are speaking with is friendly and helpful, that’s good customer service. Yet, if your tickets arrive early and the hotel upgrades your room, then that’s a good customer experience. That’s how the two are different!
Like most things in today’s market place, customer experience has changed – it’s more than person-to-person service and thanks to technology, companies can connect with their customers in new and exciting ways. For example, you can view customer purchase history and to predict future needs even before the customer knows they need it.
One needs a “disciplined focus on end-to-end value streams to deliver what customers’ want, when they want it, to the standard they expect, and nothing less”. If companies are able to get this approach right they would have then curated the perfect customer experience and transformed their Customers to Fans.
Question: What is your view on low retention and renewal ratio in the industry and what has been your observation as an industry participant to improve upon this at an industry level?
Answer: The environment in which the industry has been operating is a hybrid of traditional and modern practices. Intermediaries control a huge chunk of our business. At the same time with advent of internet, new age customers are also opting for direct interaction with the insurance companies through aggregators or through the company websites. The challenge for insurance companies is with traditional channel where contactibility of customers is limited as the intermediaries are the face of the insurance company. We need to take steps to make a win – win model between customers, intermediary and insurers with use of technology. Digital and internet of things is one such domain through which a lot of things would change in immediate future. I strongly believe that it has potential to resolve lot of service standardization issue and hence also resolve lot of problems related to renewals and retention of customers.
An integrated loyalty strategy in an organization is the only way to achieve a high degree of success. This requires in-depth customer segmentation since customer expectations varies basis demographics like age, income as well as with geography. Treating every customer in a cookie cutter fashion does not work today; a customer expects to be treated basis her share of wallet with a brand. A craving for personalized experience is becoming a norm.
We have to better understand the Moments of Truth for customers. The proliferation of so many touch points today is in fact a bigger challenge for the companies to meet customers’ expectations while engaging and creating that sought-after emotional bond with them. Moreover, it’s not just the channels for interaction and transaction that is altering but the number of interactions is also increasing.
Therefore, to make the right impact at the moment of truth across all these channels, companies need to be insightful and have an understanding of the interactions that customers have there. Getting it right would strengthen customer loyalty, increase brand advocacy and escalate profitability. In other words, R3 (Retention, Repurchase and Referral), the only way forward to have this tryst is “Collecting and analyzing consumer data is the path towards personalization, increased engagement, and differentiation”
Question: What is your view on the changing customer behavior and preferences?
Answer: Today’s customer is an evolved customer who is well researched about the available choices and as a part of the industry, I strongly feel that we need to fulfill customer’s expectation at every interaction and transaction, which we term as the Moments of Truth. Purchases of non-life insurance products in India are mainly driven by convenience and value — in other words, the right product at the right price. Convenience, however, is a complex proposition. Customers must be able to research and buy easily, a trend that has primarily been driven by the growth of online websites. But convenience also implies avoiding problems later — with cover, service or technology. For this reason, some customers still rely on tried and tested channels such as agents, family advice or trusted brands to guide their purchasing decisions.
Question: As one of the stalwart from the General Insurance Industry Perspective how would you describe the entire narrative and its evolution?
Answer: That’s quite a loaded question, let me try and answer it in parts.
The General Insurance (GI) industry in India has evolved significantly over the last decade and is now at a watershed in its development. From a Rs. 12,000 crore premium level in 2001–02, today the total Gross written premium is at Rs.100,000 crore, clocking an annual growth rate of 17%. GI is a major contributor to the country’s economy. It effectively pools and transfers risk from individual and corporate consumers, thus encouraging investments and driving GDP growth. It supports the government and society by reinvesting funds and sharing the cost of catastrophes. The industry is also a major contributor to employment.
If I were to look closely on the key trends shaping the General Insurance, it could be
Global forces impacting India’s insurance industry
Changing customer behaviour and expectations
Shifting demand- supply dynamics in related sectors
Mainly China, India and Southeast Asia—is expected to become the most important playing field for global insurers. These countries will account for around 35% of total growth. This will result in heightened competitive interest from a range of foreign insurers, who look to India as a major source of growth. Along with that there are technology discontinuities such as Big Data, Mobility, Social Media, Cloud, which will allow for more sophisticated business models to emerge.
The increase in the consumer awareness and involvement, and the increasing blurring of lines on the online and the offline world with demonstrated multichannel behaviour- e.g. 60–70% of online users conduct digital research before purchasing any financial services product; two-thirds change their mind about the product and brand after online research.
Also, quite evidently the shifting demand -supply dynamics in related sectors such as
Health care- Rapid increase in healthcare spend and formalization and corporatization of provider space will lead to new opportunities.
Auto- Pressure on core sales margin and ageing of car PARC will result in heightened focus of OEMs/dealers for insurance pools.
Corporate sector- Globalization, organized retail and infra spending translate into significant GI opportunities, the government push for crop insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
Question: What is your prescription of building an inclusive -progressive and high performing industry?
Answer: It could be a three-pronged approach
Individual players need to drive initiatives across three axis of innovation:
Build distinctive granular customer insights to capture high potential growth opportunities and enhance engagement across the customer lifecycle.
Upgrade to next generation technical capabilities (claims, underwriting, analytics, and actuarial capabilities).
Build world class operating models to achieve gains in efficiency while strengthening the human capital.
Industry-level initiatives required to further performance:
Raise the profile of general insurance in the Indian ecosystem.
Contribute in defining industry standards and protocols.
Co-sponsor the building of common infrastructure (in concert with policy makers/ regulators) for fraud detection, claims management, skill building, etc.
Policy and regulatory initiatives that will help complement individual and industry level actions:
Foster innovation and deepen penetration through product and distribution reform, and
create an environment to attract capital.
Strengthen the industry structure through focused regulatory intervention and supervision.
Enable and guide efforts towards a common industry infrastructure.
Strengthen targeted initiatives to ensure consumer protection.
Question: As the President of the Institutional Business and Corporate Strategy what are the 3 big accomplishments
It’s been less than a year that I have taken over the new role so to outline 3 major achievements may not be appropriate. However, I have focused on some key areas to get the building blocks in place which will propel the team toward success.
- Creating a learning environment: mental stimulation is what drives intelligent and ambitious employees. I have tried to create this by giving them an opportunity to access training materials, try their hand at new techniques and practice these in the real world.
- Recognition: You can’t progress without recognizing great performers.
- Autonomy and Empowerment: Besides giving the employees clarity about what they need to do, you must also give them the freedom and independence to get the job done on their own.