Life insurance in a pandemic: how HSBC Life solved the remote advisory problem
In one of the year’s first press releases, HSBC Life announced plans to permanently offer employees a ‘hybrid’ work week after the pandemic with aims to fully deploy the option by 2023.
COVID-19, a ‘tipping point’ in digital transformation for HSBC Life…
The strategy gives almost three-fourths of the HSBC Life workforce the option to combine remote work and in-office time, and showcases the incremental innovation approach that the insurance giant is now using to develop a scalable post-pandemic culture. Chief HRO at HSBC Life, Karima Silvent, said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tipping point in our working methods. Continued investments in our digital transformation made it possible to massively recourse to remote working during the crisis, which confirmed the resilience of our organization in an unprecedented context. Moreover, this crisis has reminded us of the importance of having places in which we can meet and work together.”
…and an operational challenge for others.
While innovative incumbents like HSBC Life guarantee operational continuity with remote technology in a time of flux, the shift to remote work was less fruitful for organizations without digital enablement tools or remote work processes (in the EU, where Surfly is based, remote work was the norm for only five percent of employed people in 2019).
Most insurance carriers still rely heavily on legacy systems and third-party services that are difficult to monitor and regulate with the workforce at home. And not coincidentally, the onset of the pandemic also saw a 50% jump in searches for life insurance when compared to the previous year. So the insurance industry faced an unprecedented challenge in March 2020:
How do you quickly and securely connect life insurance agents to remote customers who are buying life insurance for the first time?
Video-conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams seem like the obvious answer, and for non-regulated industries, they offered quick, convenient solutions that allowed newly-remote teams to keep working together.
But in the last year, both tools have come under fire for security breaches and questionable practices. This poses a significant risk for industries that handle sensitive personal data, like insurance and healthcare, and led insurers to consider other options.
For HSBC Life Singapore, the answer was Surfly’s secure co-browsing & conferencing technology.
This press release from April 2019 offers more detail:
“HSBC Life customers who are Singapore-based residents can meet their HSBC Life financial consultants from the safety of their homes, through a secure video conferencing and co-browsing platform, and have their insurance needs met digitally.
This includes having their financial needs and goals ascertained, receiving advice on insurance solutions based on suitability, and completing the entire insurance application online including signing and submission of forms, all in one sitting.”
Surfly’s smart content re-writing proxy approach and our ‘no data stored’ approach met the stringent security and compliance standards that made other tools unsuitable, as a Surfly Session takes place in one browser tab instead of in an entire third-party application. There’s nothing to download or install for either the customer or the agent, and the session ends when the user closes the tab. Well-documented APIs and quick implementation were also deciding factors, enabling HSBC Life to connect over one thousand agents with customers within weeks of the first lockdown.
Driven to digital, enterprises across industries will need change management strategies—like HSBC Life’s incremental innovation approach—to scale for a post-pandemic culture.
‘Hybrid’ working arrangements and digital enablement will become standards for companies that have successfully maneuvered the uncertainty of this last year. For enterprises, a new challenge will present itself as they take a step back to look at the solutions they employed to get through the pandemic. Legacy systems can be stitched together with different SaaS, but it’s counter to the seamless digital experiences that companies are increasingly focused on developing for their customers, and they can only meet the challenge with tools designed to create cohesive experiences – both now, and in the decades to come.