Union Assurance: Protecting the Sri Lankan Dream – Lucille Diaz, Chief Marketing Officer of Union Assurance

Having enjoyed nine years of success in publishing, not-for-profit and public services, Lucille Diaz opted to give Marketing a chance and has not looked back since then. As Assistant Vice President of the John Keells Group, and Chief Marketing Officer of Union Assurance, Lucille claims she is fortunate to be in a transformative company as it provides a different set of challenges and opportunities. She is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Chairman’s Award of John Keells Holdings.

Speaking of the most significant milestones in her career, Lucille said, “For over 11 years, I have worked as a branding and marketing professional with leading brands – Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, Cinnamon Life, HNB, CIC, JAT Holdings and Sri Lanka Tourism. I was a member of the brand transformation of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, responsible for driving successful campaigns for its ground-breaking international events, including Broadway/ West End performances, international music festivals and celebrity events. My diverse experience helps me deliver creative and strategic solutions to support the new brand positioning of Union Assurance.”

Union Assurance is the Most Awarded insurance company in Sri Lanka with many accolades including Domestic Insurer of the Year by Asia Insurance Awards, Best Brand and Sustainable Marketing Excellence by CMO Global/ CMO Asia, Best Employer Brand by the World HRD Congress, culminating in the highest achievement for financial advisors, where Union Assurance achieved the highest Million Dollar Round Table qualifiers in Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka’s oldest, private life insurer, Union Assurance offers its customers protection, investment, retirement, education, and health solutions under the banner ‘Your Life, Our Strength,’ with the ethos of protecting the Sri Lankan dream.

Selling a promise requires trust and belief, but it has always been possible for Union Assurance as it has a legacy of over 30 years serving customers, and its affiliation to Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerate, the John Keells Group, strengthens customer confidence and trust.

“From a marketing perspective, our strategy has carved out the reason for our existence – to Protect the Sri Lankan Dream. By doing so, we promise to protect the dreams, relationships, and lifestyles of Sri Lankans as we empower them to dream bigger and plan better.

“Creating tangibility in services is a challenge for many service industries. At Union Assurance, we have adopted a two-dimensional approach. First, we focused on increasing brand visibility through regular consumer campaigns and enhanced physical presence through our island-wide branch network. These efforts keep us close to our policyholders. Second, we’ve made investments to empower customers with enhanced customer touchpoints. A 24/7 call centre, multiple digital payment channels and chat-bot are among the most frequently used touchpoints for customers to get in touch with us.

“A game-changing facet to our digital experience was recently launched with our self-service app – ClickLife to empower policyholders with total control over their protection plans. The ClickLife mobile app is an end-to-end digital insurance solution offered by Union Assurance, which enables policyholders to manage and update their balances, dues, claims status in real time, and now extends to policy loan submissions. All of these services empower the customer to have 100% control over their portfolio, making our offerings tangible and visible.”

Furthermore, referring to global marketing trends, Lucille highlighted a megatrend – Seamless Commerce, which has been on the rise since the rapid adaptation of digitalisation over the last year.

“A key macrotrend stemming from Seamless Commerce is the omnichannel experience. At Union Assurance we are taking steps to pioneer this effort with a vision to transform the way we know and buy insurance. The aim of Seamless Commerce is to create a seamless customer experience across all channels (omnichannel). For example, a customer discovers something on social media, learns more about it on the app, uses the website’s chatbot for questions, has a positive in-store or branch experience, goes on to purchase, and manages subsequent needs through the app.

“While smartphones provide almost everything we need at our fingertips, the attention of users is diminishing to shorter spans but spreading across multiple platforms. Companies can unify their marketing efforts with a cross-channel approach and build relationships based on customer preferences. In a market like Sri Lanka, where digitisation is gaining momentum, insurers have the opportunity to simplify and transform the customer journey into a unified, cross-channel experience of their own services.”

In addition, she stated that the Retail industry is at the forefront of this megatrend by optimising every customer contact point, minimising the time between initial contact and completion of the sale.

Lucille continued: “Such trends blur the borders between offline and e-commerce, shaping customer behaviour. It will be a matter of time when the insurance industry will need to evolve to deliver this experience. WhatsApp in India is planning to partner with three major banks to provide financial services in the form of credit and insurance products. This move is aimed at people living in rural areas who are not eligible for credit due to lack of banking infrastructure. Users can then get in touch with their bank via a WhatsApp chat and even check their current balance in the app. Insurance and pensions will be made available and can be applied for within the app. These are important developments to watch out for.”

When questioned what insurance providers must do to maintain customer interest, the Chief Marketing Officer responded by saying, “Attention is one of the most important currencies of the 21st century. Mindshare is being depleted by brands battling for prominence. The rise of mindfulness practices sees consumers who are actively selective about how much content they consume. More people have begun to reward relevance and top quality with their attention. Therefore, brands are increasingly using emotions, authenticity, gamification, and stances on social issues to attract attention. Due to the low degree of penetration, insurance companies have an opportunity to gain mindshare among the larger Sri Lankan audience. Concepts like protection and financial empowerment are under-delivered propositions that have potential to scale. As we stand for the protection of the Sri Lankan dream, at Union Assurance, we have adapted a content marketing approach to offer customers high-quality, relevant content that links to our value proposition, instead of making flat claims.

Moreover, Lucille pointed out three evolving consumer trends in the Insurance industry:

  1. Large-scale adaptation to digitalisation is an important trend we have witnessed. Even as we return to normalcy, it can be expected that consumers will be more attuned to purchasing through digital platforms.
  1. Consumers are looking for a simplified purchasing process optimised at every point of contact. The gig economy has transformed user experience by doing a lot of back-end work on behalf of the customer, providing seamless customer journeys.
  1. Consumers are more aware of the need for protection as a result of the uncertainties we have all experienced since the pandemic. This opens up an opportunity for insurers to create propositions that resonate with customer needs.

In conclusion, the marketing professional affirmed that customer service is key, especially in an era in which digitalization, social distance and home-based work have reduced human interactions, and brands have the opportunity to make relationships more meaningful by adding value to customer needs and paving the way for stronger, robust relationships.

Quote: Union Assurance is the first insurer to have a fully digital, paperless submission process to issue policies with quick turnaround, straight-through processing, digital claims, submissions, and service capabilities.

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