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Policybazaar's Sharat Dhall shares a few reasons why its sale has gone up by 20% during an economic slowdown.
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Marketing in the times of Covid-19: Policybazaar.com

Policybazaar's Sharat Dhall shares a few reasons why its sale has gone up by 20% during an economic slowdown.
  • 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.
  • Sharat Dhall, Chief Operating Officer, Policybazaar.com tells us how consumers are realising the importance of term life insurance and health insurance amid a global pandemic and a few reasons why its sale has gone up by 20% during an economic slowdown.
Amid all the chaos, Policybazaar.com has found its silver lining and has successfully surfed through the economic slowdown. An organization of 13,000 employees, who always wanted to experiment with work-from-home format but couldn’t deploy it for more than 200 employees, is now considering continuing it even after we resume normalcy. And as its employees are saving more time by not commuting to work, Policybazaar’s sales went by 20% in the first few weeks of lockdown.

Another reason for this spike in sales is that consumers are realising the importance of insurance. Policybazaar, therefore, saw over 30% increase in sales of health insurance products while its term life business witnessed a surge in demand by 40%. Sharat Dhall, Chief Operating Officer, Policybazaar.com also said that consumers are spending more time on their website and almost every query is turning into a lead.
To make sure these queries are answered with correct and enough information, Policybazaar ordered 12,000 tablets for its employees. It is also exploring new digital ways of communicating about new product launches and fitness tips, to be able to serve its customers better and for their well-being. However, on the marketing front, its lion’s share still goes on TV.

Dhall further shared with us the brand’s marketing strategy and a few learnings he has picked up in this last troublesome month.
Excerpts:

Q. How have the past few weeks been for the brand, considering the country has been in a lockdown? How are you functioning?

Safety of our employees is of primary concern to us. We all emphasised on working as a single team to be able to serve our consumers without any hiccups amidst the crisis. With our expert IT infrastructure and technology team coordinating closely, we were able to shift into WFH format with all teams functioning smoothly. Systems and infrastructure required for work from home was deployed beautifully and seamlessly in less than 72 hours. I would say, WFH has worked brilliantly for our employees. Our productivity has gone up significantly and it is better each day from the previous day. In the initial period itself our sales went up by 20%, which was huge given the market scenario. We always believed that WFH could work for us but somehow were unable to scale it beyond 200 employees earlier. However, with the lockdown, all our 13,000 employees are now working well from home. Going ahead, we plan to make it functional for at least 20-30% of our staff even after things normalise, all thanks to how we as a brand have been able to enhance our productivity amidst this lockdown.

Q. How are you training your employees to fight the current challenges? How Policybazaar is handling the 13K+ call centre employees to Work from Home?
Communication has been the key for us, always. We have been in constant touch with all our employees, making working conditions only better for everyone to function from their homes at a time like this. Our Group CEO, Yashish, has been communicating regularly through emails with all the employees, taking their feedback and responses while we are in WFH.

Policybazaar as a brand believes in empowering its employees, all of them and that is how we look at our call centre employees as well. We nurture a culture of ownership and responsibility & we are happy to see our call centre employees work this well with much vigour and enthusiasm. They have been very prompt and have risen to the occasion, ceasing the initiatives. We ordered more than 12,000 tablets and distributed among our call-centre employees once we booted up, making them ready to be used from home. Meanwhile, we have enabled digital content to keep our advisors up to date regarding the new products and offerings made by insurers currently. We are able to train them well, through various online training sessions that are being carried out successfully. We even created a few short YouTube videos in order to make sure that our advisors are able to serve our customers better with all the product knowledge.
Our IT team played a big role in providing VPN access to all the key staff members to help them work remotely and manage the business operations in an efficient manner. The entire non-operations staff, the admin team and most importantly, the IT infrastructure team closely worked with each other to ensure that all the internal processes are made digital and start working online in less than 72 hours.

Q. Have you observed any changes in consumer behaviour?

In these few months, based on the changing consumer buying patterns, what we understand is that Insurance is becoming more of a pull product than push. Insurance business for us is holding up beautifully! Since the lockdown was implemented, there has been a 30%+ increase in sales of health insurance products while term life business has witnessed a surge in demand by 40%. What we see is conversions going up with higher talk time and most customers spending much more time on the website than ever before. It’s like almost every query of the customer is getting converted into a lead. We believe, policy seekers/buyers do realise the importance of protection products and are making much more informed decisions currently, clearly showcasing their priority to be securing the health and life of themselves and their loved ones.

Q. Have you introduced any new policies to facilitate a safe working environment and to take care of your employees' mental well-being?
The safety and well-being of our employees has always been a priority for us. We have been in constant touch with all our 13k employees and this is being done by organising video conferences with respective team leaders and managers. We are also organizing town halls on a regular basis to address concerns of our employees at a time like this. Moreover, internal campaigns are also being planned for the wellbeing of the employees to help them cope with mental stress during the lockdown period. We have begun a dedicated internal helpline number and e-mail id for our call centre employees to help them reach out to their respective HR SPOCS in case of any emergency. As an employee-centric organization, we are also sharing fitness videos with our employees regularly to motivate them to stay fit and healthy.

Q. What is the Idea behind the Public Service Message by Policybazaar.com?

We are a customer-centric company and we have always worked to meet the needs of the mass customer. During times like these, we believe it is our duty to help people in as many ways as we possibly can. To ease out on the buying process for consumers during this lockdown, we are ensuring an end-to-end digital delivery of insurance. As people might now hesitate from visiting hospitals, we are innovating on physical medicals, with more tele-medicals, video medicals etc. for those looking to buy a cover up to 2 cr. Even with e-KYC in place; consumers are finding processes quite hassle-free. Our only aim is to simplify things for our consumers so that they can stay protected with insurance even while practicing social distancing. The idea is to keep our consumers well-versed and up-to-date with all the new digital innovations happening around the space of insurance, all this to add convenience to their buying journey.

Q. What is your marketing strategy right now? How have you been trying to continue building a connect with your audience?

We believe that these are uncertain times, and it is very important to keep people informed about the importance of their health and life. Interestingly, the realization of the importance of term life insurance and health insurance has increased manifold amongst people. Within a few days of the lockdown, we saw a surge in the demand for health and term life insurance plans. We, as a brand, have also been consistently communicating and spreading awareness around these 2 products a lot more in the last 2 months. Our proportion of advertisements on both TV & digital has increased many times, where we talk about the importance of getting yourself insured in these uncertain times.

Q. What are a few key learnings for you as a brand in the last few weeks?

In times like these, one needs to be actively and regularly communicating with its consumers. It is crucial to stay connected all throughout. The brand message being shared with people should be inspiring, clear and to the point, very crucial at a panic stricken time like today. Providing solutions to customers via your communication is critical in these uncertain times. At the same time, making sure we are quick to spot and act on the changing media consumption patterns is very important as well.

Q. TV viewership and digital engagement continue to increase, where are you betting your money?

TV, with its highest reach, continues to be our lead marketing medium in the current times. We are also making sure that we maintain a significant presence on the digital front as well. This is also because the TV viewership in the last 2 months has increased drastically following the corona crisis. More and more people are watching television to get the latest updates on the COVID-19 situation. And then, with some challenges in the distribution of newspapers, people have also switched to digital mediums to stay updated on the on-going scenario. Here too, we are making sure to maintain our decent presence and keep people informed regarding various protection plans and their benefits during such times.

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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