Meeting evolving customer expectations through digital innovation – Hinesh Chauhan, CIO, TAL

Hinesh TAL Chauhan

In the continuously evolving landscape of the insurance industry, customer expectations and needs are always shifting and challenging companies to adapt their digital products and services. At the forefront of this transformation is Hinesh Chauhan, Chief Information Officer for TAL, who will be sharing insights at the upcoming Future of Insurance, Sydney 2024 conference.

We caught up with Hinesh about understanding and meeting the evolving needs of customers, driving innovation in digital offerings, leveraging data and technology and how insurers like TAL are adapting to these changes to ensure relevance and competitiveness in the market. 

FST Media: The last decade has seen customer-centricity shift from business priority to executive obsession. How is TAL distinguishing itself and prioritising customers in its approach?

Chauhan: At TAL, we’re focused on putting customers at the heart of everything we do in two key ways: leveraging cutting-edge technology to offer seamless services and tailoring our products and services to meet the evolving needs and expectations of our customers and partners.

Over the last five years, we’ve laid down the digital foundations – with new cloud, API and data platforms, and adopted a digital platform delivery model – in a way that we think will provide incredible opportunities to build products and engage with customers more responsively and in more personalised ways.


Working closely with our partners – for example, our superannuation fund partners – is an important aspect of our digital innovation ambitions. One of our goals here is to seamlessly integrate our digital journey for customers, covering things like applying for insurance cover and managing claims, into our partners’ digital platforms. This approach means we’re able to offer a more unified, connected and intuitive customer experience, and makes insurance more accessible and relevant to our partners’ members.


FST Media: On customer experience and personalisation in particular, what are some key successes and challenges you have faced while implementing your initiatives? Are there any projects you have been particularly proud of?

Chauhan: TAL is a leading Australian life insurer protecting close to five million customers. In addition to growing organically, large strategic acquisitions – including Suncorp and Westpac’s life insurance businesses – have underpinned our growth trajectory in recent times. These are complex endeavours, where we have been developing and launching new digital platforms alongside integrating acquired systems and working hard to minimise complexity in our technology landscape. Throughout these programs, we’ve always prioritised the customer experience, and this has been both deeply rewarding and challenging for my team and me.

One of the most fulfilling parts of my role is solving real, impactful problems for our customers, advisers and partners. The potential to improve experiences right across claims, underwriting and customer service is very motivating. Add to this our diverse digital talent team, and we know we can make a real difference in our customers’ lives.

The launch of our digital platform, TAL Connect, was one of these satisfying moments.


This platform can be embedded in our partners’ systems and is designed to, for example, make it easier for superannuation fund members or customers to engage with their insurance cover and when they need to make a claim it makes the process smoother and faster. By making insurance management more accessible and intuitive, we are directly responding to the needs of our customers and partners.


FST Media: How can integration of technology and data solutions empower insurers to better understand and meet customer needs?

Chauhan: Insurance companies have always been data-orientated; data is important for informing decisions and managing risks. However, the convergence of data, digital capabilities, and exponential technologies such as AI and cloud marks a transformative era for our industry, offering new opportunities to simplify processes and elevate the customer experience significantly.

I believe insurance companies can leverage real-time data analytics to offer personalised experiences that resonate with customers when it truly matters. This means that insights derived from user behaviour and preferences are quickly turned into tailored engagement strategies, significantly shortening the time between understanding what customers need and providing them with relevant solutions. To do this, of course, you need to get your data right!

Looking ahead, we plan to use AI to take TAL Connect to the next level of customer experience – reimagined life insurance, really.


But, for me, there are a couple of other important considerations here:

  • The importance of looking beyond data and technology solutions when innovating for customers: Data can be a simplified representation of reality – a two-dimensional view. It is crucial to engage with your customers to develop a deeper understanding of their problems and needs.
  • The importance of having top engineering talent connected to our customers: We are a people business, with a growing proportion of our over 3,000 employees dedicated to technology. As part of this, we’ve also been growing our engineering base and elevating the role of engineers in our organisation. I am deeply passionate about this and about bringing our engineering talent closer to our customers as it is a powerful way to ensure our digital innovation is developed with a deep appreciation of their needs.


FST Media: When implementing and deploying digital tools such as TAL Connect, it is not uncommon for staff to feel reluctant or to avoid adopting these new solutions altogether. How has TAL dealt with this and ensured its people are adequately trained and comfortable using these new tools?

Chauhan: You are right, adoption can be hard! And this isn’t a problem that’s unique to traditional financial services organisations. Digital-native companies have the same challenge – it’s their agility and customer-centred approach that helps them evolve their adoption strategies.

Likewise, our agility and customer-centricity are areas we continuously work on to help drive adoption.

When rolling out a platform like TAL Connect, we prioritised understanding and responding to user feedback to ensure comfort and confidence in using these new platforms. Some of the strategies we deployed included user testing and advanced observability (helping our teams identify performance or functional issues that real users are experiencing).

Over and above this, TAL Connect’s modular design plays a crucial role in enhancing user engagement.


This flexibility allows us to support, for instance, superannuation fund members throughout their entire insurance journey with TAL – from the moment they join, right through to retirement.


FST Media: We’re delighted to feature you as a keynote speaker at our upcoming Future of Insurance conference next month. What do you hope to hear, learn and share with your peers at the event?

Chauhan: I’m looking forward to exchanging insights and learning from the experiences of my peers across the industry. I hope to hear about innovative ways technology is being used to address customer needs and challenges.

And I hope that, in sharing some of our stories, we’re contributing to building our industry’s collective knowledge on how we can use digital innovation to improve the ways we interact with customers, so we’re engaging in the ways they expect.

As a featured keynote presenter, Hinesh Chauhan will take us through the next generation of customer-centric innovations at our upcoming Future of Insurance, Sydney 2024 event.

Event registration is now full. However, extra places are being made available for FSI industry members early on our waitlist. Don’t miss out!