Insurance is an aspect that most individuals focus on throughout their lives. Whether it’s insurance for products or people, it can be helpful in the long term. When talking about this, we can’t deny the exceptionality of the approaches undertaken by Al Ahlia insurance. As a result, we decided to interview Bader Al Lawati, the Head of Digital and Marketing Communications of Al Ahlia Insurance.
The best part about the company is that it has been awarded multiple awards as an insurance company and has grown exponentially.
First, we asked Bader to describe Al Ahlia Insurance in detail.
“Al Ahlia Insurance is one of the leading insurance providers in the Sultanate, focusing on providing the best-in-class insurance solutions to our customers utilizing innovation, technology, and a people-focused customer service approach.
We provide various insurance products, including motor, property, casualty, construction, marine, specialty lines, SME solutions, personal accidents, and home products.
We provide customers with unmatched sales and service support with 24 branches, over 26 exclusive agents, a dedicated call center, and a convenient online platform.
Al Ahlia received consistent recognition and awards such as ‘Oman Insurer of the Year’ & ‘AIWA Award for Best Performing mid-cap company’ for many years at regional and local award platforms.”
This was pretty interesting. We got interested in hearing how Bader came to this position during our conversation.
“How did your professional journey start?” we asked.
“I began my career in the UAE, after my thesis was entered in a UAE wide University competition. The competition, which looked at researching the UAE vehicle market and creating an aspirational marketing campaign was judged by Audi Middle East, who hired me after I had won first place in the competition.” replied Bader.
Bader also has some advice to share with our viewers.
He continued, “My advice would be to develop your work attitude. Skills can always be taught, but a working attitude can’t. This has always been my hiring philosophy.
Develop an attitude of learning as soon as you can, industries change, and careers transform, so if you don’t have the agility to learn new skills and the courage to make career shifts, then you may be stuck in an industry that is shrinking or miss out on opportunities that never existed.
I initially focused my earlier career on public relations and event marketing, but seeing the advent of digital and social media and seeing the disruption that digital media created for traditional media houses encouraged me to upskill and focus my education on Digital Transformation, which is what led me to my position today.”
Do you think switching careers has been advantageous, or has it given you a disadvantage?
“For the most part, switching careers has been very advantageous for me in the latter part of my career. Since I had gained a lot of experience in media management, media buying, and developing marketing strategies, I understood and managed campaigns and people from a 360 point of view.
On the other hand, the disadvantage of switching careers was the timeframe between investing in re-education and seeing the returns on that investment. In addition, it took more of an effort to get the technical experience, but mixing two semi-related fields allowed me to manage marketing as a holistic entity.” says Bader Al Lawati, the Head of Digital and Marketing Communications of Al Ahlia Insurance.
Agility, Smartwork & Motivation To Attain Goals
We wanted to know Bader’s views on teamwork. When we asked him about what’s the key factor towards a successful team, he put the main emphasis on agility. So let’s see what he says.
“Agility is one of the key success factors in any team. A team must know when to stop working on a strategy that doesn’t work or adapt new ideas based on shifting market trends.
Before COVID, our team adapted to changing consumer behaviors by wanting insurance solutions to be more readily available through digital means. So, we adapted our branch modules to have that agility to serve customers where they need through payment links, paperless transactions, and a WhatsApp contact center.
Doing so minimized the impact of lockdowns and business restrictions that came with COVID, and our agility resulted in Al Ahlia Insurance being amongst one of the first companies in Oman to move to a remote working module.”
According to Bader, “Being in a sales and target focused organization, employee motivation is a key driver. Our industry doesn’t sell a physical product, so our people and the work they do is the product.”
He believes that employee empowerment is vital to keeping a team motivated. For example, suppose employees feel they have the agency and the ownership of their projects and ideas. In that case, that sense of ownership and pride will translate to retained, motivated, and driven employees to achieve a common goal.
Technology & Adaptation To Digitalization – How’s It Helping Al Ahlia Insurance?
We believe that technology is rapidly becoming a driving factor for businesses. We wanted to know if the same goes for the insurance industry. As a result, we asked Bader if technology is helping Al Ahlia Insurance.
“The insurance market is a particularly difficult market to market for. You can only sell an insurance policy to someone once a year.
Prior to digital advertising, the module was to mass market insurance products, which was a vastly expensive and inefficient module. But with enhanced metrics and rigid targeting, we can now serve the right customer at the right time without marketing to consumers who aren’t looking for our services.
Apart from marketing, digitization has also had positive impacts societally. For example, insurance has always been a paper-heavy industry as we need a lot of documentation for legal and regulatory reasons. With the strides cloud computing has taken, we can now utilize paperless modules and rely on digital images, scans, and e-forms. Think of all the beneficial environmental impact that comes from not only saving the paper but transporting it, storing it, and then discarding it.” says Bader.
How is digital transformation working out for you?
“One of the key focus areas of our company is to provide the best-in-class innovations and technologies to our customers. We always look at digital transformation as a key driver to enhance customer experience and drive productivity. And we always look at the latest innovation from outside the insurance industry to see what we can learn and what we can apply to enhance our customer or employee experience.” replied Bader.
We also asked Bader about his approach to innovation. With that, he said, “we found that many industries have very well-established practices and procedures that are never adapted in other industries. That’s why we look at innovation not only as new technologies, but processes and ideas that have not typically been implemented in our own industry.”
Innovative Usage Of Whatsapp
Bader had something to say about the services or latest business ways of Al Ahlia Insurance.
He says, “One of our latest uses for technology and innovation was the utilization of a bot-assisted journey to help customers purchase a policy, renew their policy, or intimate a claim via WhatsApp. This innovative use of WhatsApp allows us to collect all the data from customers with minimal agent interaction. It gets our agent to utilize their time only after all documentation has been collected from selling/upselling a product or providing customer service without having to ask all the basic leading questions.
We now receive around 80% of our claims via WhatsApp, and we are constantly enhancing the customer journey and experience with the latest technologies.”
While hearing about all such innovative aspects of business and high adaptation to technology, we got pretty impressed.
Lastly, we asked Bader if he had anything else to say to our viewers.
“One of my key learnings as a Digital and Marketing professional is to keep an open mind and embrace different ideas, even if they don’t exactly match what you like. At the end of the day, you might not be your target market, and your target market may love an idea you don’t necessarily like.
Sometimes, an idea failed and was tried again, only to be vastly successful. Just because an idea didn’t work doesn’t mean it won’t work in the future either. Likewise, just because it didn’t work right now doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.”
Connect with Bader Al Lawati on LinkedIn.