PNB MetLife is using Virtual Reality for customer service

PNB MetLife is taking a lead in harnessing the latest technologies to offer its customers great services. In this regard, Dataquest spoke to Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife to understand how technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and blockchain are set to change the BFSI sector.

Samrat has completed his MBA in Finance from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune. Prior to joining PNB MetLife, Samrat was the Chief Information Offi cer (CIO) at TATA AIA Life Insurance Company. He was also associated with Fidelity International as an Associate Director – Technology for over 4 years 3 months and worked with SBI Life Insurance Company as an Asset Vice President – IT for 2 years. Excerpts:

What are the key technologies PnBML is betting big on? In what areas technologically PnBML has taken lead?

pnb2016 was the year of innovations, with a diverse range of breakthrough technologies being introduced; with block-chain, unmanned vehicles, AI ecosystems being the most talked about. 2017 will take this revolution to new heights.

Technologies in financial sector is also growing rapid-ly, with new avenues for transaction and banking coming up.

The insurance industry is undertaking significant steps to incorporate technological innovation that can improve business processes and support profitability and growth. We at PNB MetLife ourselves have introduced two key innovations- A first-of-its-kind Virtual Reality (VR) based customer service platform -conVRse which was built in partnership with LumenLab MetLife’s innovation center in Singapore. Second is a secure digital hub called Infinity that allows you to create a digital legacy by enabling you to share important documents and memories with your nominees in case something were to happen to you. Our Infinity app reached 30,000 plus downloads in fi rst 30 days.

If we look within the MetLife system, we have MetLife Japan with some interesting work in the field of robotics for Surrender Cash value process called The Proof of Concept (PoC) on Robotics. This is helping solve for one off requests for Cash value certificates which were manually processed by extracting data from multiple sources and building a statement. Through this process, the team was able to reduce the time spent by ~50% with 91% of trans-actions automated and further configuration can take this to 100%.

In what ways is Virtual reality being used for customers in the financial sector?

Virtual reality offers tremendous customer service possibilities as it will potentially change how one interacts with the service provider. The tech-savvy customers are keener on using digital wallets for transactions. Also from Google Glass to wearable technology in the form of VR helmets and associated headgear VR is becoming accessible to people. Virtual Reality presents a new mode of interaction that allows a different level of connection and collaboration. Virtual Reality in financial services completely surrounds a user, creating immersive experiences and allowing easy communication through the platform. The robo-advisory concept is also catching up in the FinTech world. Keeping this in mind we introduced conVRse, an experiential virtual reality platform built in collaboration between MetLife’s innovation center – LumenLab in Sin-gapore and PNB MetLife in India.

This is the first time that virtual reality is being used in the insurance industry to benefit the customers directly through superior experience and availability of experts. It aims to provide a differentiated, immersive and a personalized experience to the customer through the VR headset available in 15 PNB MetLife branches across 10 cities. When customers put on the VR headset they find them-selves in a 3D simulated virtual room, face to face with an avatar “Khushi”, our life insurance expert. The customers simply need to walk into the select PNB MetLife branches, wear the VR headset and get all their servicing requirements fulfilled by Khushi. The platform will display policy related information and uniquely engage the customers through visual assist elements like animations.

Insurance is high on Emotional Quotient and the personalized experience provided by conVRse will lead to deeper engagement with the customers and help educate them beyond a transactional interaction on IVR or social media.

conVRse will add another dimension to the whole servic-ing piece where the customer can get instant access to the experts, view their policy details as they speak, get a speedy resolution and interact and understand simply in a 2-way communication. We seek to provide a differentiated, immersive and a personalized experience to the customer through converse. The whole process is really simple.

How will VR and AR transform the financial sector?

VR and AR have the potential to increase productivity and improve client engagement by transforming complicated content into interactive and vivid experiences, a new channel of communication for financial services providers. With VR in place, financial institutions can reduce travelling time for meetings and training, as customer service representatives will be able to share insights virtually everywhere. Similarly, AR has been adopted by financial institutions, especially banks to help navigate their nearest branches and ATMs.

VR can be very useful to educate clients about new products and concepts which can help them take an educated decision. With VR hardware becoming more affordable, companies like PNB MetLife have started taking further steps towards introducing VR and AR based technology.

What are the changes do you envision in CIOs role in the next few years?

The role of CIOs will undergo massive changes in the upcoming years, the “I” in CIO will change from “Information” to “Innovation”. Essentially the role will be of an Innovation partner in delivering competitive advantage to business.

How has the role undergone a change?

A CIO is undertaking multiple roles, from transforming it from a Cost centre to Profit centre, from undertaking change management to injecting disruption and from sup-port to leading business drivers.

What are the key technologies that will transform the BFSI in general and insurance space in particular in 2017?

Rapid changes in the technology space are forcing the BFSI sector to adapt and implement newer innovations. There is a paradigm shift in the way financial institutions interact with customers now, thanks to digitization. Some of the key technological innovations which we are seeing in the BFSI and Insurance space are:

Analytics can be leveraged by the industry to improve profitability and customer experience, not only this, it is analytics that will help insurers to anticipate and plan risk mitigation including fraud detection. Analytics can help insurers to optimize the results of marketing campaigns, hence reducing costs

Internet of the Things (IoT) is helping insurance companies by helping them in assessing and pricing the risk of loss.

Robotic process automation (RPA): Replicates human behavior and executes non-judgmental sequence of activities across applications. It emulates human execution of repetitive processes via existing user interfaces. Robots are a virtual workforce controlled by business operations teams.

Insurer’s data exchange: Today’s insurers have collaborated with third-party data service providers to help them in the decision making process.

Insurance bundling on e-commerce platforms: Insurers today are looking beyond traditional distribution chan-nels and partnering with new-economy firms such as telecom providers, travel booking portals and e-commerce firms for alternative distribution of insurance products.

Blockchain: In the long run, we can foresee the application of blockchain technology in the global insurance industry. The architectural properties of blockchain provide a foundation for the digital landscape.

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