As a company that was founded in 2019, how has Across Asia Assist (AAA) evolved since then?
Since its establishment, our mission was to build our core foundation with a customer-centric approach that focuses on strengthening our service quality above all else. We have since experienced remarkable growth – with our team expanding threefold – while maintaining a strong emphasis on service quality by upholding our standard of excellence and continually improving our offerings to meet customer needs.
As a relatively young company, how has Across Asia Assist worked to distinguish its offering from that of its competition, particularly in Asia?
Despite facing industry giants, the company has fearlessly participated in tenders alongside well-established assistance companies. We took it in our stride, and pride ourselves for being in the same league as them! There are also new competitors who have entered our market in the recent years, particularly in Asia.
This confidence stems from the collective experience of Across Asia Assist’s team, with our expertise in the assistance industry setting us apart from others. Our genuine know-how and commitment to providing top-notch service have been instrumental in setting the company apart from the crowd. By prioritising quality and customer satisfaction, the company has earned the loyalty of existing clients, turning them into loyal ambassadors for the brand.
How does Across Asia Assist work to avoid confusion due to language and cultural differences when providing international assistance?
Recognising language and cultural differences is an ongoing learning process for us, and we embrace sensitivity, open-mindedness, and effective communication strategies.
The central element that we focus on is to ensure using plain and simple language as well as adapting our speaking pace, tone and style to suit the individual on the other end. Seeking feedback and clarification allows us to promptly address any misunderstandings and make necessary adjustments to ensure seamless assistance.
As we know, some cultures may value indirect communication or politeness, while others prefer directness. To further bridge cultural gaps, we continually educate the team about cultural norms, customs, beliefs and communication styles, enabling them to be mindful and respectful of diverse cultural preferences and avoid potential misunderstandings. By prioritising cultural awareness and effective communication, we enhance the overall quality of our international assistance services.
Some cultures may value indirect communication or politeness, while others prefer directness
How does your company build relationships with other businesses and organisations, such as aeromedical providers, hospitals, etc?
Being a Core Partner of the International Assistance Group (IAG), the largest network of independently owned assistance companies, we have an alliance of over 160 independent assistance companies, providers and correspondents throughout the world, in addition to our local network in this region. Forums and academies are conducted every year as one of the IAG’s networking initiatives, where we can exchange knowledge, assistance cases, and support each other’s goals, fostering meaningful relationships among members.
Another key element that we prioritise is exploring potential collaborations, recognising that working together builds trust and understanding, leading to stronger relationships with our partners. In addition to that, and this goes without saying, it is essential to maintain regular and effective communication by having periodic meetings, updates, or even informal interactions. We find that informal interactions are a good way to strengthen relationships, breaking barriers and facilitating information exchange. Finally, we often share our experiences and knowledge through our social media to enhance engagement, which has proven to serve as a catalyst to initiate conversations and establish relationships with new and existing business partners and providers.
How did your company manage to navigate the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly with the Asia-Pacific region’s relatively slow easing of border rules?
The Covid-19 global pandemic happened when we were just about to onboard our first client. We had to operate a 24/7 alarm centre knowing there would be close to zero travel cases due to border closure. We decided that there would be no perfect time to start, so we went ahead anyway.
In hindsight, we were actually in a good position because we started the pandemic with a clean slate. We hire only for what we need, and this kept us sustainable throughout the crisis.
Another advantage that we had was having a diverse range of business lines not solely reliant on travel. Before long, we onboarded new clients for different portfolios, such as Roadside Assistance, Second Medical Opinion, and others. The Covid-19 pandemic presented new opportunities. We were offering Covid-19-related assistance such as temperature screening, on-site PCR tests, house-call doctors, and ground ambulance services, among others.
We could not have pulled through without the dedication and diligence of our team members
With all being said, we could not have pulled through without the dedication and diligence of our team members. The team transitioned into working from home with minimal supervision and, most importantly, their commitment to hold the fort and cover for each other when a teammate is affected by the virus.
You have different strands to the business – such as international medical assistance, travel assistance, and employment wellness and claims management. What areas of your business are growing fastest, and why?
Our digital solutions are a big contributor to our fast-growing roadside assistance service. By digitalising certain processes, it creates a better customer experience that also fits the demands of today’s users. Our digital offering is a plus point to our clients, especially online insurers, who pride themselves on being industry leaders when it comes to implementing digital solutions.
Besides that, we are seeing very good traction on our Second Medical Opinion (SMO) programme. In our experience, this is a beneficial programme that has not historically been popular in our region due to lack of awareness. With time and effort to educate the market, we are pleased to discover that they are more receptive today. We helped many of our clients enhance their products by offering SMO as a policy benefit to their customers.
How does Across Asia Assist plan to develop and expand its operations in the future? Are there any particular plans that you are especially excited about?
We are always on the lookout to develop the company both vertically and horizontally. We are particularly excited to share that we are currently in discussion with local insurers to optimise and enhance their claims processes and customer journeys by leveraging our expertise, network and technology.
We are always on the lookout to develop the company both vertically and horizontally
Another service that we are actively expanding is our Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). We started this service early last year that enabled one of our clients to implement a ‘follow the sun’ model taking advantage of the time zone differences for seamless operations. We are seeing a growing demand for such services, especially due to the employment and economic challenges in certain markets. Having a base in Malaysia is ideal because the country has good tech infrastructure and a multilingual workforce, which allows clients to be strategically competitive and cost-effective.