Singapore Life + Zendesk: Disrupting life insurance markets with Zendesk omnichannel

Digital life insurance company, Singapore Life, stands out in the legacy insurance industry with its innovation and top-notch customer service.

Singapore Life

“Zendesk was the obvious choice for us because it helps us do our job far, far more efficiently.”

James Shanahan

Chief Operating Officer at Singapore Life at Singapore Life

“Internally, we can experiment on a lot of things—with macros, automations, different views, and different reports. And we can just add people to Zendesk and continue on. We don’t have to worry about scalability.”

James Shanahan

Chief Operating Officer at Singapore Life at Singapore Life

Products used




Singapore, SG






Seconds call wait time





If there’s one thing where humans excel, it’s finding reasons to procrastinate. After all, the dishes can be done tomorrow—and that life insurance paperwork? Next week. Or maybe the week after that…

While letting the dishes sit an extra day isn’t a big deal, neglecting to get life insurance is a misstep that can severely impact the lives of your loved ones—and one that’s easy to make when it normally involves page-after-page of time-consuming paperwork.

Digital improvements to the life insurance process, including Zendesk Support

That’s why Singapore Life, a digital-only life insurance company, has eliminated the tedium of paperwork so that its customers can focus on getting the coverage they need. Yet the company’s dedication to streamlining the life insurance process goes beyond simply removing paperwork; it also chooses like-minded technology partners to streamline all of its business functions, which is why the company adopted Zendesk Support to ensure a great customer experience for its clients.

“Customer experience is everything for us,” said James Shanahan, Chief Operating Officer for Singapore Life. “We sell online. And it’s our customer experience that lasts, because revenue depends on stickiness—on retention, on renewal. So customer experience, to boil it down to one phrase—but with a complex understanding behind that—is everything. It’s the reason we’re here.”

By focusing on the customer experience, Singapore Life—which provides 24/7 support in English and has average wait times down to mere seconds—consistently earns a customer satisfaction rating of 96 percent, with a nearly identical rate for Chat. While a large part of that stems from the company’s culture and vision, Shanahan and other leaders understood that achieving that kind of success would require robust, flexible customer service software.

“We chose Zendesk because of the experience on the customer side, and because Zendesk is the dominant tool here in Singapore,” Shanahan said. “Zendesk was at the top of the pile when it came to ticketing systems to help us manage customer service.”

Not just for customers—rolling out zendesk to support internal teams

The company initially chose Zendesk Support only to handle customer service, however, its use has since expanded. In early 2018, it set up an instance for internal IT support—and the success of that effort led Singapore Life to expand its Zendesk use to finance, underwriting, and even as a work management tool. That means that while there are eight agents dedicated to external customer service, the rest of the employees are set up as light agents. At the heart of it all is Support, which plays an important role in helping the company work more efficiently and achieve its ultimate goal: the disruption of the life insurance market.

“The fact that everyone is using the same tool, with the same functionality and look and feel—obviously there’s an efficiency benefit there,” Shanahan said. “Internally, we can experiment on a lot of things—with macros, automations, different views, and different reports. And we can just add people to Zendesk and continue on. We don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to worry about scalability.”

Being able to try out new workflows plays an important role in helping the team manage complex requests since a change to a policy can trigger a host of tasks, Shanahan explained. “If someone wants to make a change to their policy, then our Customer Service team lead by Alice Lim, will receive the request, with the ability to track changes end to end, over a period of time,” said Shanahan. “That’s not a simple change. That request may need underwriting. It may need repricing and/or proof of documents and a whole range of actions that we can’t necessarily do online in a straightforward manner. Lim’s team needs to track that, and that’s where Zendesk comes in.”

Regulatory compliance, educating customers, and creating an audit trail at scale

As a customer service manager, Shanahan said, Lim’s oversees a team that is also responsible for satisfying regulatory requirements. “We are a regulated organisation, and this is where Zendesk is particularly useful for us,” Shanahan said. “All of our calls, email interactions and chats are recorded. And for regulatory purposes, this is essential, because we then have a record of all interactions in order to address repudiation issues with customers—to create an audit trail, to review what we’ve done with customers, and to be able to go back and ensure that we’ve completed everything that we promised our customers or obligated ourselves to do.”

Beyond hewing to regulatory requirements, Lim’s team also handles the creation of self-help content for customers, in an effort to deflect common support requests. The team parses raw customer feedback in Zendesk Support to uncover topics that need self-service content. “We can segregate topics into different categories,” Lim said. “So we just try to create as much self-service content as possible for customers to help themselves.”

Of course, sometimes support requests spike. In early 2018, for example, Singapore Life acquired the business portfolio of another life insurer, which led to a surge in support requests—and as an ambitious company always looking to expand, the team leaned on Zendesk to help them manage those periods. “The important thing is that the experience is seamless,” Shanahan said. “We don’t have to think about Zendesk. We add new people as agents, provide some introduction, and it’s instantaneous. Zendesk scales and moves with us, like the wallet in your pocket.”

Using Slack to keep an eye on the big picture

Zendesk also provides Singapore Life with a view into the big picture. For Dave Teo, Head of Customer Experience, that means taking advantage of Zendesk’s integration with Slack to create a private channel that alerts him to ticket updates. This enables him to see common inquiries and address support cases that aren’t being resolved as quickly as he’d like. “Because I don’t have the Zendesk window open on a day-to-day basis, and that I mostly work via Slack, having Zendesk integrated with Slack allows me to monitor whether certain tickets/customers require special attention to” he said. “It is advantageous to have everything in one place.”

When Singapore Life’s support team needs information from Zendesk—say, about how to explore a new feature—they know they will get a quick answer. “Most of the time Zendesk’s support team settles our inquiries within just one to two emails,” Lim said. “Whenever we need to get in touch with our main contact at Zendesk, she’s there. And she also takes the time to come into our office and show us how we can really utilise new functionalities.”

That kind of personalised support helps Singapore Life provide consistent and efficient support across all the channels it monitors through Zendesk: email, phone, live chat. It also leaves them time to closely monitor contacts through Whatsapp as well as devote attention to the third-party financial advisers they work with. While the company doesn’t have a direct hand in interactions between the advisers and customers, having the ability to track those conversations is critical, since a negative experience can reflect on the insurance company itself.

For example, Alice’s team recently helped a displeased customer who had reached out about a financial plan she had purchased through a third-party financial adviser (Singapore Life offers these advisors to clients who request financial advice). The customer didn’t fully understand the policy, but through Zendesk, the team was able to get a clear picture of the customer’s plan and then offer a solution to her query. “When she left our office, she was quite happy with us,” Lim said. “She knows that we didn’t sell the policy to her, but she was happy with our service and the time we spent with her.”

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