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Despite the second wave of coronavirus is hammering the economy this year, Allianz is keeping up its strong position on Hungarian insurance market. In March almost the entire company moved to home office within in one week and started remote operation smoothly. The management continues to focus on simplicity, speed and excellent customer experience; hence the direction has not changed. Talking about the “new way of work” and how to lead and motivate colleagues in this new fully virtual environment is new and important challenge for the management. We are touching the latest developments at Allianz Hungária in Biztosító Magazin’s exclusive online interview with Alexander Protsenko, CEO of the company.

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The pandemic unfortunately created a situation which was unprecedented before. Looking back on 2020, how do you feel about the company’s market condition and performance?

Pandemic made our life much more intense, many developments happened within weeks which took years before – especially in digitalization and online services. The good news is that I am still positive and excited. This March we entered into the “corona environment” out of the position of strength and we managed the new situation with high dedication, persistency and success. If we look at our numbers, this year has been the strongest compared to the last years.

Which outcomes are you satisfied with, and what area needs more focus and improvement?

We acted upon the pandemic environment in three dimension that I am pretty satisfied with. Firstly, it has become visible how this tough time unified the Allianz team. We made surveys and from the results we learned, among others, that the team spirit has increased and brought us closer together. Secondly, it was good to see that all of our past IT and infrastructure investments, like cloud technology, have paid off now. Within one week we moved the entire company to home office and get started with remote operation; and customers could not even realize that. Thirdly, the business overall performed better than expected at the beginning of Corona: in few segments like Travel insurance the volumes went down, but overall we recovered very fast and in many segments grew above last year.


Just like last year, this year I am asking again: what are the biggest challenges insurers facing these days and what is the biggest challenge for you as a leader?

The challenges and the direction remained the same, – actually, the whole Corona situation became an accelerator for Allianz. We were too complex in the past, not fast enough, our operations had too many and complex processes. In addition, the response time towards customer queries was in many cases below the new customers’ expectations. We made a big  step forward to address those, but there is still space for improvement in this respect.

The challenge for me, personally, is how can we further accelerate? The good news is that we do not need to change the direction.

I believe in simplicity, speed, and in good customer experience. We have to deal with serving our customers faster.

– Alexander Protsenko explains.

There is no time for long implementation processes, because customers want to have their situations resolved by tomorrow and new services to be introduced very fast, – if we don’t do it fast, we have no business. How to lead and motivate people in this new fully virtual environment is an additional challenge of course.

How are you getting on with the planned simplification on the Hungarian and on the European level? Are there any preliminary results? Successes?

I have some good examples indeed. After one year we are able to see some first results. In May we fully switched to the new and simplified MyHome and MyCar products, which were a great success. I was positively surprised, that – not just our customers gave positive feedback, but also our sales colleagues clearly confirmed, that these products are easier to explain and sell. On CEE level there were similar rollouts, we started to introduce this logic across the region. These modular products are the same – for example – in the Austrian, Slovakian, Bulgarian, Romanian market. We are also working on several other products in other segments, in order to extend this logic where it makes sense.

Alexander Protsenko

Has the Corona situation caused any extra demand for Allianz’s services?

In October last year we introduced our video claims assessment solution, but not many people used it at the beginning. This year however, due to the Corona situation, usage numbers skyrocketed. Today majority of the claims are dealt through video claims assessment. This solution is not just safe, but much more convenient for the customer and efficient for us as well. We are also thinking about how to move forward with this; luckily, there are some further similar developments in the pipeline, which are pretty close to be launched.

Has the pandemic added any new requirements to Allianz’s simplification programme?

We used the Corona time to accelerate the project evaluation process. We noticed that in Non-Life insurance, we are fully able to manage our operations remotely. From the very first contact through to issuing the policy, everything can be done and managed remotely. In Life business, we introduced new digital services within first Corona weeks, so it also became fully remote based end-to-end.

How can you simplify customer experience?

If you look at the average TV remote control, it has a lot of buttons, but if you have an Apple TV, well, it’s remote control has only very few buttons. Similarly, we have to provide a much simpler way, not only in communication, but in service and product design as well. Due to Corona many people moved online, they want to speed up things, so we need to operate in a digital and fast way, provide right customer experience for online channels and mobile devices.

The Claims Tracker, that we offered before 2020, provided our customers with ‘everything’ about the claim. It was like a big statistical table. The new Online Claims Tracker is more interactive, more visual, real time and easier to use. Less is more sometimes.

– Alexander Protsenko explains.

Besides Claims Tracker, we are working on further developments of customer experience in order to make other elements also as simple and as fast, and some of them will be soon available for customers.

Alexander Protsenko

Allianz started digitalization years ago, the company had a set of digital solutions already at the beginning of the pandemic, which, I guess helped the company to keep up business continuity. Do you have any new objectives in the field of digitalization? Have you re-prioritized some of your IT developments?

Beginning of this year – even before the pandemic – we realized, there were several hundreds of initiatives on the table, and we cannot do everything at once obviously. We prioritized customer experience versus backbone system developments for this year. However, we still do some robotization and efficiency measures to make the operations even more efficient, – and we have to do this every year. 

Home office itself was not complete novelty for the majority of the employees, however long-term home-office might have posed challenges. How do you keep up with long term home-office operation model?

Indeed, we switched to a different operational mode at the beginning of the pandemic. By observing our industry and other industries one may see different cases. There are companies that moved completely to home office and would like to continue it for longer periods, while other companies decided to return to original operation model as soon as possible, even if they don’t have to, – so this is not a black and white situation. People at Allianz appreciated that we moved to home office very fast, – it was safer, more efficient and it went smoothly. However, this excitement at some point started to decrease, because people realized that working from home in certain cases can be more complicated. From May onwards we started preparing the partial return to the office; we started to figure out how the “new way of work” will look like. So we have a blue print concept now, how the new hybrid model will look like after the Corona time is over.

During the first wave we discovered many things that worked better, so we decided not fully return to the old operational model.

– Alexander Protsenko remembers.

How can you manage and motivate your colleagues these days?

Before Corona, Allianz employees could work from home two days per week. But the usage and acceptance was limited – perhaps the trust was not fully there. Corona showed that home office can work very well actually; our productivity level remained good. We started supporting our people on how to work from home efficiently, launched different trainings on how to operate well in this environment. Our HR team is putting a great effort into management education on how to lead people remotely. We introduced different virtual event formats, e.g. regular virtual Town Halls. The idea was not just to have a virtual meeting, but communicate more frequently:

In the past, we had the regular Town Hall meetings once in a quarter. Now we have them virtually almost every month. In the most recent event nearly 800 people participated. It was amazing.

– Alexander Protsenko remembers.

Even though 10% of our employees are working from the office on a voluntary basis, everyone can work from home now at Allianz. We started to upgrade the laptops, systems, the infrastructure and meeting rooms at the head-office as well, to adapt to the new situation.


What does it mean for your customers that almost the whole Allianz workforce is working from home? Have they noticed anything?

For customers transition to home office was not visible. But we decided to move even further to improve customer proximity and satisfaction: Approximately two months ago we started a project, called “Voice of the customer”, that I am very proud of. It’s an exciting way of measuring customer satisfaction in a digital world. In the past, we measured customers feedback with NPS approximately 2-3 times a year based on a survey.

Due to the latest digital developments, now we are able to ask feedbacks at every touchpoint over the entire customer journey in a very simple way. Customer experience can be rated on a familiar “five-star scale”. 

– Alexander Protsenko explains.

Now, customers can provide feedbacks in a simple way, from every digital interaction and in real time, so we can assign it to the responsible person or function if there is something to improve. We can react immediately – the threshold is maximum 48h. This is, again, a good chance for Allianz to serve our customers even better. A happy employee means a satisfied customer: Due to the Corona, our colleagues and teams have moved closer to each other, and the community feeling improved significantly. I am convinced that this strong team spirit and “Voice of the customer” initiative will bring us even closer to our customers and will support us in maintaining our strong market position.

(x) Szponzorált tartalom. A cikk megjelenését az Allianz Hungária Zrt. támogatta. | Köszönjük!
Szeretne megjelenni a Biztosító Magazinban? Rendeljen cikket! A részletekért kattintson a médiaajánlatra!

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