Customer Context is Key in the Digital Journey

Manik Nangia, CDO-Max Life Insurance Co, shares his digital transformation plans of leveraging customer context to grow revenue, reduce costs, and offer superior customer experience

Anil Chopra
New Update

We interacted with the CDO of Max Life Insurance Company, Manik Nangia, to understand his plans of leveraging customer context to grow revenue, reduce costs, and offer significantly superior customer experience with the help of technology


Digital transformation is not just about using technology, but about a journey to transform how your organization does business in the digital age. It requires understanding the personas of different people, capturing their information and making sure they get a great customer experience irrespective of the channel they use to buy your products. This is broadly the approach Max Life Insurance seems to be taking on its digital journey, which started about 2.5 years ago. We spoke to the company CDO, Manik Nangia to understand his vision and digital mandate for the company. A finance and strategy person fundamentally, Manik also looks after the company’s brand marketing, all of which help him get a wider view of the digital vision for the company, much beyond technology. Presented here are our learnings on how he views the digital journey for Max Life Insurance.

Manik Nangia "The metric for any customer experience is loyalty and advocacy, which is what we'll enhance through our digital journey."

--Manik Nangia, CDO, Max Life Insurance

No, the Indian Insurance Sector Isn’t Getting Disrupted…Yet


According to Manik, the Indian insurance sector isn’t really getting disrupted yet, but it will definitely get there over the next 3-5 years. The disruptions happening today are very small, and more toward automation of physical models. Oscar Health in the US is disruptive, as it has almost taken away intermediation. Aggregators like are doing a fantastic job for consumers, but there is more coming our way as disruption in the next 3 years.

“True disruption would happen if a company could send a customer life cover basis his/her social context, or offer non-underwritten cover based on the person’s savings bank account and mortgage details”, said Manik. “Or if, basis the lifestyle habits, a company could offer to dynamically adjust customer health insurance premiums and lower it when for good behavior”, he added.

Customer Experience Augments Revenue, so Capturing Their Context is Key


Almost everything Manik does has to either result in greater revenue, lesser cost, or significantly superior customer experience. As customer experience eventually augments revenue, the digital journey therefore revolves around context. It means capturing and mapping all customer information and their preferences, much beyond creating product portfolios based on their life stages.

Context also helps select risk pattern, and insurance sector is in the business of taking risk. As a result, life insurers are notorious for asking for loads of documentation and forms. “We underwrite and select risk that comes to a pool of customers. It involves selecting financial and medical underwriting”, added Manik.

He explained this with an example. If you’re applying for a Rs. 50 Lakh cover, and with better context, we could for instance, connect with you over LinkedIn and check that you work with an A grade publication as editor. There’s a fair chance that we take LinkedIn and the endorsements you have on social media as a surrogate and not ask you to share your six months’ salary slips that you would otherwise have had to print, scan and upload as documentary evidence for financial underwriting.


Second, if the applicant agrees to share health data from his/her smartwatch or health tracking device, like number of steps, blood pressure, pulse, etc., then we would get a fair idea of the applicant’s metabolism and physical activity. If the lifestyle is healthy, we may not require the applicant to get various medical tests done.

This not only increases conversion ratio, but also improves customer experience, and disclosure rates. People may not otherwise truly tell how many cigarettes they smoke for instance!

On top of this, if predictive algorithms can be used, then the company can propose the right solution. If credit card or Net Banking based payment is enabled on top of this, it saves the cost of sending runners or agents, who could then be re-deployed for other productive work.


Building a Repository of Information

What Manik painted was a view of the future and the company is at different stages in each. Currently, one of the big rocks they want to move is on fulfillment of purchase process and documentation. In the long term, he aims to have a repository of information that could actually make the lifetime value of customers come true. Technology is important in the digital approach as there’s no human being like an agent to help customers. For this, personas of customers have to be mapped intuitively because they would have different preferences. So in the digital world, the next screen they click on should give them options for exactly the two three things on their minds. “We’re doing this discovery in an integrated manner, by mapping both online and offline customer behavior”, said Manik.

Changing Company Culture is Tough, but it’s Happening


Changing company culture is tough for Max Life, but Manik feels they’re changing. Earlier, the dominant logic of face to face sale was what made the company so successful. Questioning that and alongside, creating a second digital logic to not ask so many questions, but take surrogates instead is challenging the core. But Manik feels that the company’s leadership team is aligned, and are all sold on investing into this for the future. “We are one of the top three things on the CEO’s goal sheet, so he personally spends dedicated time every week with us on some of this”, added Manik.

A CoE is Core to Enabling the Digital Journey

Max has setup a CoE (Centre of Excellence), which is led by Manik. “I lead a CoE, and it’s carved out from tech, ops, sales automation, and strategy”, he said. The company has been on the journey for 2.5 years, and were till now responding to specific problems, with asset for agents, a website, mobile site, etc. “Somethings worked beautifully (like our mobile apps for agents) and somethings did not, but the big thing is to learn from these mistakes”, said Manik. With our CoE, the approach is to bring it all together in an integrated, strategic fashion.


All this of course, can’t be done without support from IT. “CIO is a buddy for me as I can’t do much without him. We’re in it together, whether we look for newer skill sets, sell the vision for the tech team, solutions guys, product managers for digital, etc.”, he added. “Besides the CIO, the head of operations has to be my ally and co-sponsor because customer experience is predominantly in his goal sheet. So I need his support if I want to completely re-imagine the way we are addressing the buying process and documentation”, he added.

Preparing the Metrics to Measure Success

As the company is taking a digital journey instead of following a transaction based approach, newer metrics are needed to measure satisfaction. That’s what they’re working on refining now.

“The metric for any customer experience is loyalty and advocacy, which is what we’ll enhance through our digital journey”, concluded Manik.

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