Leading FinServ group uses messaging app to attract next gen.

7 min read
Aug 5, 2022 1:58:00 AM

Design and deploy a fast, convenient, mobile experience to support boutique plans for a new target segment of upwardly mobile, urbanites with young children.

  • 18,000 new customers in first month
  • 30,000 new customers in first six months
  • 3X more customers using the app to access services than the website
  • 96% rated the claims service 5 out of 5 stars
At a glance

Leading global financial services group providing financial advice, insurance, and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups, and institutions.


Launch a new line of boutique insurance policies in APAC targeting a large population of young city-dwellers juggling professional and familial duties, and demanding fast & efficient mobile experiences.


Rework traditional application process in a social media messaging app to meet customer expectations. Complete review, approval, contract generation, and delivery of an insurance policy in 30 seconds.

As part of his New Year’s resolutions, the CEO of a global financial services group working in Asia called for his firm to develop an external ecosystem of technology vendors. With this partnership, he hoped to enable innovation and differentiate from the competition.

“Smart companies have quickly worked out that building symbiotic relationships with third party providers is the future—allowing both firms to innovate and grow.” — CEO of global financial services group


Instead of evolving from within, the CEO recognized that his firm could create a worldclass business architecture and technology footprint with minimal friction by welcoming ecosystem partners. That led to inviting outside innovators to take a look at operations and suggest ways to improve customer experience with revamped products and services. During an initial project focused on mobile media, the firm embedded an Elixir® project management leader and solution architect in their team.

Here’s a look at how the firm implemented the CEO’s resolution and used agile, crossfunctional teams to launch a successful messaging app for policy issuance and claim services. The new digital channel enabled the firm to capture new segments, grow revenues, and expand business opportunities using typical transactional customer communications.

Reach the next generation where they are on digital channels

The financial services group has more than 900,000 customers in Asia. As of October 2016, the firm had issued 2 million life insurance policies. But in their traditional application process, the customer would visit a branch office, fill in a form, make a payment, and wait up to three weeks for contract delivery.

To accelerate the process and grow the business, the firm launched a number of digital initiatives to interact with young customers on media they already use. Customers submitted more than 95% of individual policy applications through the firm’s online platform, with 67% processed using an automatic online underwriting tool.

As early as 2015, the firm carried out marketing campaigns using a top social media messaging app with close to 1 billion users. App users log in to pay bills, chat with friends and family, and shop, and organizations use it for marketing and customer service. Marketers at the financial services group wanted to try it to see if it would help the firm stand out in the crowded insurance field. After an extensive internal review and approval process, top management gave the messaging app project the go-ahead. The review convinced management that this digital transformation initiative would help the firm improve customer experience and outpace the competition.

Customer expectations drive the split-second digital experience

The firm aimed to achieve bimodal IT capability, a combination of traditional and exploratory operations defined by Simon Mingay and Mary Mesaglio in “Bimodal IT: How to Be Digitally Agile Without Making a Mess,” Gartner Group, 15 July 2014. The first mode is stable and predictable, providing safety and accuracy; the second is nimble and quick, emphasizing agility and acceleration.

When the team designed policy issuance for the messaging app platform, they recognized the attempt to move further into the digital channel as an exploratory project. So, the team didn’t set any sales targets. Instead, they focused on customer experience. The goal was for customers to complete the entire application process within 90 seconds—from the time they start entering personal information to the time the system generates the digital policy and delivers it to the customer.

The rationale for the timeframe was that customers using the digital channel have short attention spans and little patience. Most users will wait just 90 seconds before assuming a transaction has failed. This is especially true for younger consumers, the target customers for the messaging app service. The streamlined policy issuance greatly compresses the threeweek traditional process.

The firm chose to test the messaging app using relatively simple, short-term products. Straightforward coverage and a one-time payment make these products ideal for the digital channel. In contrast, complex and long-term products often require face-to-face discussions with a sales representative, making them better-suited for traditional channels.

Original application processing time: 1.5 weeks; new process: 30 seconds

Streamline processes for faster responses

The firm simplified the application process by asking for necessary data only—such as basic personal information and policy item selection. This minimizes the time spent filling out the form. Product information explains policy coverage, customer services, and claims processes all on one page. Jargon-free language and simple graphics adapt to the social channel and the younger audience.

The service gives feedback—such as confirming form submission, information provided, and payment—at every step, so that customers know whether the transaction has gone through. If the transaction isn’t successful, the messaging app quickly alerts the customer and explains the problems that need correction.

The process uses a rules-based engine for application review and approval to automate the process, letting policies be issued in just a few seconds. The messaging app’s Pay function—a native service that most young people use—helps reduce friction. This is a change from normal practice for many insurance companies that accept only bank instruments, such as credit cards, for noncash payments.

To access Customer Service on the messaging app, including self-service claims, customers need to first register their personal messaging accounts with the firm. The firm matches users with customer accounts, and customers supply additional information, such as bank account details for reimbursement. When submitting claims, customers can upload pictures of personal IDs and receipts along with the digital application form.

The claims team then manually reviews the information and supporting documents within one business day to ensure the case meets the guidelines. Once approved, the system transfers the correct amount to the customer’s bank account in seconds.

Creative solutions at speed

The messaging app’s official accounts let businesses broadcast messages to followers, provide services, and respond to requests. Advanced functions enable companies to show richer content or handle complex and sensitive transactions. For example, the functions allow full control of sessions for policy issuance and medical claims.

To meet customer expectations for near-realtime response when applying for a policy, the firm turned to Elixir®. This was due to its cloud platform, configurable interface, open APIs, robust composition engine, and flexible deployment and hosting model. The challenge for the vendor was to integrate with its core policy and underwriting systems and meet customer expectations for near-time response.

The firm initially planned to route customers offline to a call center. This would have required a sizable expansion of the call center to handle review, approval, and customer service during policy issuance. Elixir provided a custom, digital-only solution that enables issuance of policies within 30 seconds and without the need for call center intervention.

Integration with the messaging app eliminated the need for the call center. The solution uses basic APIs, such as call webpages, to ensure service reliability. Basic APIs tend to be more stable.

The solution includes automatic review and approval of policy applications. Interaction with a third-party digital signing tool ensures that contract documents are legally signed and secure. The 100% online experience is quick, easy, innovative, and costs much less.

Elixir enables real-time response
  • Modern, open architecture and agility
  • API integrations with messaging app services, the firm’s underwriting system, systems of record, and a digital signing technology
  • High availability and data security
  • Agile process configuration and automation
Executive sponsors and cross-functional teams collaborate for success

Customer communication projects often involve multiple departments, because they require expertise from marketing, customer service, and IT, at a minimum. Commerce on digital platforms may also involve sales, product management, and operations, making close collaboration across functional units critical. Because organizations often run multiple projects led by different departments—which may cause conflicts— coordination at an enterprise level is critical.

The financial services firm has set up crossfunctional project teams that include people from product development, sales, marketing, IT, operations, and partners from Elixir. A project owner leads the team, which is coordinated by a project manager, and reports to a project management committee made up of senior executives. A service innovation department oversees all projects related to innovation, including the messaging app. This department prioritizes projects based on the firm’s customer experience vision, aligns messages and service offerings to avoid conflicts or overlaps, and coordinates resources across departments.

Once these new services go live and stabilize, the team transfers them to other departments responsible for their ongoing daily management. In this case, the firm set up a new division—called Digital Channel— that oversees product development, sales, and marketing for digital policies. The operations unit, made up of IT, customer services, and process management, takes care of processes and infrastructure support for digital channels and products.

Make customer experience your differentiator

The financial services group began selling accident protection policies using the social media messaging app in September 2015, followed by policies for pregnant women and small babies in April 2016. They then launched self-service claims in July 2016.

These projects showed extraordinary results, with messaging app policy issuance attracting close to 18,000 new customers in the first month. Of customers using the online claims service, 96% gave it a five-star rating. The firm found that three times as many customers used services offered on the messaging platform— such as policy inquiries and changes—rather than the official website. The firm now introduces services on the messaging app and website at the same time and plans to replicate most of the website functions on the app. The messaging app customer experience has become the firm’s #1 competitive differentiator.

Best practices for customer communications initiatives
  • Before applying technology, design the customer experience so you know how the technology must work.
  • Fast response and transparency contribute to good customer experiences over consumer messaging platforms or any other form of customer communications.
  • Enterprises need senior management support to gather the resources for cross-functional projects and to identify and implement best practices for other products and markets.