PNB MetLife’s virtual reality platform set to take customer service to new level

Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife Life Insurance Company
Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife Life Insurance Company

The insurance firm has launched conVRse, a first-of-its-kind Virtual Reality (VR) based customer service platform, that enables customers to get their queries answered using visual elements

India is in the midst of an exciting phase of digital transformation, with firms in the BFSI sector taking the lead in pushing the limits of innovation. One recent example of innovation is an experiential virtual reality platform called conVRse, launched by PNB MetLife Life Insurance Company. The goal – 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 themselves in a 3D simulated virtual room,  face to face with an avatar “ Khushi ”, the company’s life insurance expert. The customers simply need to walk into 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 elements like animations.

“ConVRse is a digital platform which combines customer service and engagement together. Traditionally, customer queries are answered using a one-to-one linear transaction. For example, if you use an IVR system, you are asked to put in the policy number for getting any query answered. As customer engagement is a vital element of customer relationship management, our virtual avatar viz., ‘Khushi’ not only answers the customer’s queries, which are more transactional in nature, but also engages with the customer. We are trying to move from a conventional service into an engagement, which is more effective,” opines Samrat Das CIO, PNB MetLife Life Insurance Company.

The Chairman of IRDAI launched the service on 19th December, 2016. The platform requires standard make VR head gear, an android device which runs the app, and an Internet connection. As the VR application is resource intensive, it currently has restrictive access. It can only be accessed at the branches and not at the insurer’s home. Accordingly, the bandwidth for VR is dedicated and not shared.

A customer at the PNB Metlife branch experiencing the VR headgear to resolve policy related queries A customer at the PNB MetLife branch experiencing the VR headgear to resolve policy related queries

 

How VR can make a difference

Using VR, the insurance firm can go beyond answering traditional queries. For example, when the customer is querying Khushi on when the next premium is due, Khushi might also recommend that given the current premium being paid by the customer is on a quarterly basis, it might be more appropriate to pay on an annual basis because perhaps it might turn out to be less costly and also there are lesser hassles of paying it on a quarterly basis. The entire policy is visible wearing the VR headset. Another example is that of a customer who wants to just change his address. The customer can actually talk to Khushi as it is an audio, visual experience, and the change in address can be done quickly.

The response to the VR platform has been phenomenal. “About 200 customers have availed the services till date and the feedback has been great. Going forward, the service will be rolled out across all the customer touchpoints and services. We are closely watching what the customers are doing using the VR facility but it’s too early to identify a trend. As soon as the customer enters the branch and if he wants to use the VR, there is a special room that he can go to and wear the headset to navigate through his queries, where he is guided by the avatar known as Khushi.

Enhancing engagement

The overall vision behind going for VR is to enhance the engagement and intensity of the interactions for the firm’s customers with its sales teams and distributors to demystify the complex world of life insurance because in most cases, the customer does not have a clear idea about the life insurance product.

“VR can be used as an excellent communication jargon for explaining life insurance products in a language that is understood by a layman by using the audio visual medium and make people address their need rather than buying something they do not require. That’s the journey that we have embarked for ourselves and any kind of subtle engagement can have a direct contribution effect in terms of the servicing capability as well as the acquisition capability. We are even exploring such VRs at PNB’s ATMs,” explains Samrat Das.

MetLife has an Innovation center in Singapore known as LumenLab. This particular VR initiative from the beta stage to the concept stage to final execution was done jointly by LumenLab and MetLife India. It took about two months for the idea to hit the ground from the moment it was envisaged.

 

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