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How brands are dealing with the new normal

Marketing in the times of Covid-19: Max Life Insurance

How brands are dealing with the new normal
  • In our latest interview series, we talk to brands to understand how they are coping with the new normal and their strategies towards navigating these difficult times.
  • We speak to Aalok Bhan, Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance about the impact of the lockdown on the brand, and the life insurance industry in general and all that they have been doing to minimize business impact and ensure business continuity.
The recent Covid-19 lockdown has impacted different sectors in different ways. Hospitality, travel, retail and aviation are perhaps the most impacted. With the lockdown now extended by another 2 weeks, its still some time till we understand what things look like in the post-Covid world.

At the same time, there are a few sectors like FMCG, Telecom, Healthcare and Life insurance that haven’t been as severely affected. Brands have been trying their best to adapt to the new normal, not just in terms of how their businesses function but also in the way they communicate with their audiences.
If one were to look at the positives, most brands have learnt how to become more agile and quickly adapt to changing needs at times of crisis. We recently caught up with Aalok Bhan, Director & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance to understand the impact on their brand, and the life insurance industry in general and all that they have been doing to minimize business impact and ensure business continuity.

Edited excerpts:
Q) How have the past few weeks been for the brand, considering the country has been in a complete lockdown? Has this affected your business?
Just like every other economic sector, the lockdown has had a significant impact on the life insurance industry over the past few weeks. However, insurers across the board are navigating the crisis with extreme resilience and ingenuity and we are already seeing a robust industry response. By enabling organizations for effective remote work, recalibrating ecosystems with digital technologies and maintaining business continuity with strategic communications plans, insurers are doing enough and more to serve to the best of their capacity.
Strengthening our digital initiatives at Max Life, we initiated a Business Continuity Plan a week before the lockdown was implemented. Our investment in remote user technology over the years enabled us to quickly ensure that 80% of our employees could work from home effectively within 3-4 days of the announcement. To keep the ball rolling, we have effectively digitized our entire sales process, training more than 9,000 frontline sellers and over 25,000 specified persons of banks and agents digitally in just two weeks, who sold almost 24,000 policies in the last week of March alone. We have also digitized our claims management to ensure that all support documents are accepted online, and customers are able to submit claims in a timely manner, using self-service options available on the website, digital bots and AI driven Interactive Voice Response.

Q) How have you been trying to continue building a connect with your audience? Has there been a change in your media mix?
At Max Life Insurance, we are consistently practicing empathetic communication and staying connected with the customer to create value and reassure them in the midst of a life altering crisis. As new-age marketers, we are also staying on top of the latest trends, watching data for insights, and understanding new consumer behaviors that will be key in driving successful conversations moving forward. For instance, new consumption patterns during the period of lockdown reflected that urban India is spending an average of 3.5 hours on digital, consumption dominated by news, social media and video streaming.
At Max Life Insurance, we quickly adapted to change by channelizing our resources onto social media and digital marketing. Recent efforts include accelerating campaigns and being creative on social media, where we drove engagement on the back of a 21-day quarantine challenge through which we hope to stay connected with our customers. Keeping our connect with customers during social distancing, through Super Customer Week, now becoming e-Super Customer Week, changing the nature of customer engagement by going the digital way.
Q) What are a few key learnings for you as a brand in the last few weeks?
The impact of COVID-19 will be felt by all, small and big businesses. The biggest learning has been that marketing leaders need to stay the course and adapt to the new normal that is evolving. It is crucial to constantly keep experimenting and modifying marketing plans to find what works best given the situation.

Q) When it comes to communicating with your consumers, what has your primary motive been?
Times like these are important for us to remain connected with our customers and build trust by providing them the right kind of reassurance. Firstly, we are constantly informing customers that death due to Covid-19 is covered in their policies including term plans through multiple media such as sms, e-mail. Secondly, a dedicated Covid-19 section on our website proactively takes care of customer queries related to the topic.

Q) With so much negativity in the minds of people, the biggest challenge is to build and strengthen trust. How are you doing that in these adverse times?
Trust is what one must harness during COVID-19 by driving contextual and clear communication. At Max Life, we are driving utmost transparency in our coverage and communication to reinforce trust in the idea of true, hassle-free financial protection at the time of need.

Q) There's a thin line in terms of a brand's communication in times of crisis where marketing communications can be misread as opportunist or even insensitive. How are you working around this tightrope and ensuring there isn't any miscommunication?
We are focused on living up to our key responsibility of providing financial guidance to customers and therefore are leading our communication strategy with care and empathy. We are also consciously anchoring the messaging around fundamental themes such as financial protection, health and safety to create value and reassure customers in the midst of a life altering crisis.

COVID-19IndiaCases: 145,380Deaths: 4,167Recovered: 60,491
COVID-19WorldCases: 5.31mnDeaths: 342kRecovered: 2.23mn
COVID-19USACases: 1.59mnDeaths: 96kRecovered: 379k
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