Michael Ilyas, founder of Buyanyinsurance tells us about vehicle insurance.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Ilyas: We’re doing as well as can be expected during these uncertain times. It’s been hard to cope with lockdown restrictions, but I’m sure it’s the same for everyone everywhere. All things considered, we’ve been very lucky, and we’re very grateful for that.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Buyanyinsurance.
Michael Ilyas: I’m from all over the place, but I was raised in Dubai, so it felt right starting my career here. I founded Cactimedia in 2003, and it really pleases me that it’s now recognized as one of the best digital agencies in Dubai. In 2018 I worked with Mark Bachayani to launch BuyAnyInsurance.com, an online insurance comparison website, to make insurance buying easier and more readily available for the masses. I’m currently working on making both of my businesses successful, but who knows what the future holds career-wise.
How does Buyanyinsurance innovate?
Michael Ilyas: It’s funny, but BuyAnyInsurance.com came about because Mark and I felt there wasn’t enough innovation in the online insurance comparison market. The process to buy insurance online was unnecessarily complicated, and there weren’t many websites offering direct contact with an insurance agent for those who were confused by the online process.
At BuyAnyInsurance.com, we combine both the remote online way of buying insurance and the much more traditional call-your-agent approach for those who like to discuss what they’re buying in detail. There is also a Help Center available for those who want to learn more about insurance on their own.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Michael Ilyas: Like everyone else, we also had to make certain decisions to combat the pandemic and its inevitable financial hit. We were determined to keep as many people on as we could, so we had to move offices. Yes, the area we moved to was less affluent, but it was necessary to cut those costs so we could keep on our employees, who are much more important to us.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Ilyas: Thankfully, the change of offices was enough for us to not only keep everyone on board but at their current salaries. The greatest lesson here for me was recognizing that our most important asset is our team. We have some great people with us; dedicated, creative individuals who make BuyAnyInsurance.com what it is.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Michael Ilyas: We have a team dedicated to customer relationship management. What you need to understand about BuyAnyInsurance.com is that we manage the entire insurance process – from comparing quotes to renewing policies to claims processes and the headaches they are. So, it is important to keep track of individual cases and their current statuses.
Bots and applications can be great at communicating with customers, but we find they lack the sort of human understanding that’s needed in these communications. This is why we opted for a semi-automated chatbot for our social media and website. This is enough to get the basic details about the customer before an agent steps in and takes over. We find it the most efficient way to manage customer relationships.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Michael Ilyas: No. I believe we didn’t qualify for those. We’ve been very lucky in some ways.
Your final thoughts?
Michael Ilyas: The pandemic has been tough, and I don’t think it will get easier any time soon. Most people would suggest looking at the bigger picture in these situations, but that, in my opinion, can be overwhelming. Instead, focus on the small, day-to-day tasks. We can’t predict when this will be over, we can’t control how governments or others respond to the situation, but we can determine how we deal with our day. So let us make an individual effort to spend it being as productive as possible. This doesn’t mean we should only focus on work. I believe a portion of the day needs to be spent doing what works for your mental health. It could be reading a book, watching a show, or even sitting in a silent room without the noise of the world invading your safe space.