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Banking Frontiers organized a panel discussion that covered systems from the perspective of performance, agility, innovation, compliance, etc. This was supported by Red Hat and Dynatrace. Edited excerpts:

  • Vivek Zakarde, Sr VP, Head – Analytics, IndusInd Bank
  • Vipul Nirwani, Head – Digital Products, Motilal Oswal Financial Services
  • Arnab Dutta, Head – Products & Partnerships, Edelweiss Retail Finance
  • Ajit Joshi, National Alliance Manager, Red Hat
  • Faisal Shaikh, Regional Director, Dynatrace
  • Moderator: Manoj Agrawal, Group Editor, Banking Frontiers

Manoj: I wrote an editorial in Banking Frontiers where I said that ‘CX is the new tech’. All these years technology has been the driver and the source of a whole lot of improvements. Today customer experience is the driver. If you look at the earlier definition of service, people wanted price and quality. But now service means any device, anytime and anywhere, along with security, compliance, customization and personalization. So, the dimensions of service are changing rapidly. The question now for businesses id how do you measure this whole variety of customer experience parameters. These parameters are new and were not in place when technology systems were built 5-10 years ago. Now these parameters are critical and are business differentiators.

Vivek: To enhance customer experience for us, everything revolves around what all data we have in the organization. We try to have a 360-degree view of what data we have with us. In reality we have a view of 60-70% of the data. What data tells us is that from 1000 odd variables, 100 particular variables might impact our customer experience. So, we do some feature engineering and try to see how they are impacting customer experience. We all are moving from product centric to customer centric approach.

For example, in my previous insurance organization, claim settlement used to take 25-30 days for bike or car accident. Whereas customers feel it should be sorted out in 5-6 days. So, we built an application for that. So, whenever an accident happens, customer just uploads the picture of the damaged part of the car or bike into the mobile app. Then the algorithms and AI/ML takes over and sees which parts are replaceable or repairable, calculate damages, and so on. Our aim was that customer should be happy and satisfied. Whatever problems customers are facing, we should sort out with the data perspective.

Manoj: Arnab, what has been your experience in terms of generating better customer satisfaction using all these parameters?

Arnab: For me, it is all about data science. In the new normal, only one thing rules – the costumer is knowledgeable, tech savvy, knows what he is looking for and is less patient. There are multiple options. You need to build all the systems or stitch them into one platform. The biggest learning which comes out in the post-pandemic era is that customer having multiple choices are having knowledge. We need to develop ourselves to service the customers in SLAs, which are absolutely re-engineered and old ones are done away with.

CX now needs to be of international standards without compromises. Second thing, we have to be nimble footed. The specs need to be built up and put together in pieces, so you have the flexibility to move one out and put in another. Nothing can be static, change is constant. That is how I feel customer service will evolve.

Vipul: Customers have become very demanding across industries in banking and insurance and financial services. And in this point of time, a normal quality and cost-benefit services does not work for customers. You have to take a holistic service approach. At every touchpoint of customer needs, you have to give the best customers experience, a wow experience. And that is what we are aspiring towards. This is where data fits in. We are using customer data across the app journeys to build personalization. CX creates the customer opinion, and that’s the differentiation that a company can have. And data is the key to that, even for the physical interaction. At the digital touchpoint, you need to know what pages customers are visiting, what kind of products they are interacting, what kind of journeys they’re doing across the app. Basis that you define your product, make sure that they have to do the least work, they are shown the right kind of products and the right kind of journeys.

Manoj: Ajit, how do you see technology providing the Gen-Z level of experience? I think everyone is a Gen Z when it comes to customer experience.

Ajit: The joke is that as you become older, you become richer and you have a lot of money for banks want you as their customers. But technologically you are not very updated. So people like me in their fifties, increasingly we are become technologically challenged, whereas the banks want their business the most because they are more profitable. Whether swiping a card or buying a product or buying a share, customers want the results instantaneously, which is like 2-3 seconds in the Internet age. At the backend, there might be say 7 processes, each one requiring say 500 milliseconds of time. Now how does this all add up when Gen-Z wants quick service? So, what Red Hat and Dynatrace do is helps identify those processes and find out where there can be a choke or where more resources may be needed. At Red Hat, we ensure that all these different processes work on our platform. We have a variety of developer tools and we operate with so many different fintechs, and we ensure that they come on our site and they work on our platforms, and Dynatrace monitors this. So, at the end of the day, the customer gets a seamless experience. With so many banks on Red Hat technology, we ensure that the Gen-Z or the Gen-X gets the same experience, because we bring together all these tech people.

Faisal: To add to what Ajit is saying, today ‘mean time to market’ is the most critical thing for any business. This is easier said than done as there are a lot of complexities that goes with. Let’s take mobile banking app – earlier you used to open it using your pin. Today business wants their IT to provide facial recognition to the end customer. There’s a lot that goes at the backend when it comes to just changing this feature. For customers, it is just a feature change, but before you deliver this to the market, a whole lot of testing happens, there’s a lot of reprograming and re-coding that happens, and this is where Dynatrace and Red Hat put together can shorten this entire process to deliver what the business wants. Today there are hardly any single product companies, everyone wants to become a platform company or a marketplace. With this, a lot of complexity is rising – such as a mix of on-prem and private cloud and public cloud. Users are using different front-ends like iOS and Android and tablets, adding to the complexity. That is where technology champions like Dynatrace and Red Hat smoothen things out.

Manoj: I want to now come to another business angle. Customers are also demanding innovation and they’re impatient. For BFSI companies, there is pressure to innovate rapidly because innovation is now a part of CX. What are you seeing as the pressures of innovation and how are you approaching it so that you can deliver it in time the way the customer wants it and not be behind the competition?

Vivek: Data is usually is the best driver of innovation. Since the customer wants a seamless journey, we are automating all retail products and getting it done for the customers – be it vehicle loan or home loan. IndusInd Bank was a pioneer in using audio and video, which is a natural human interface and making a difference in financial services. Then we started with chatbots, and when it is not possible for the chatbot to answer that query, it automatically transfers to the human operator.

When our customers engage in a video call with our executive – that’s the best example of simulating the feeling of in-person experience. The customers sees that someone is there and does not get irritated, such as with IVR, when you have a lot of queries, you are just clicking a lot of buttons and then end up with nothing. So, we have to bring such innovation to be competitive.

Manoj: How is innovation for NBFC different from a leading bank?

Arnab: I will start off with a slightly radical statement. In possibly less than a decade, either NBFCs will become fintechs or fintechs will become an NBFCs. Likewise, banks will become neobanks or neobanks will become banks. At Edelweiss, digital adoption mandate is almost 100% – for the entire length and journey of the customer lifecycle. Depending on the risk appetite of various lenders – bank or NBFC or fintech – the ticket sizes vary. We have seen organizations do Rs 100 million of lending entirely paperless. Using bitly etc, documents can be transferred in a minute and replace paper documents. You can reduce underwriting time from 1.5 days to 2.5 hours flat. Now there are 2 things – ability and intent. Millennials are the biggest lending sector, not the Gen-Z, since 65-70% of our population is 35-40 years. Gen-Z is new to credit. NTC will rise from 1% to 10% over $10 billion. The major digital challenge is API integration. Now, not all things are going right for the fintechs, the regulators are also coming down strong and the laws are evolving and there are more rigorous checks. Still, the journey definitely will be digital, but in what form and fashion will API be the long-term solution has to be seen.

Manoj: Vipul, do you see newer products being built around customer journeys or around financial parameters?

Vipul: We are always trying to anticipate needs of customers. In trading, lots of customers jump in without the underlying knowledge, and they lose money; nearly 90% lose money. So then they then look to other means. So our objective became how can we help customers make money. Now, Motilal Oswal is built on research and we are known for our research. That’s what we want to empower customers with. We want to tell them that of course we should invest in markets. But then you need to know how to invest in markets, how to research stocks, how to research options, how to create option strategies, choose best investment products as per life stage, etc. And that is our focus. So, we launched a research app and are the first cohort to do so. This app is completely free of cost to everyone. Further, we’re getting inspiration from other industries, from Instagram, TikTok, etc. Gen-Z doesn’t want to look at long videos or read blogs. They want short reads. So we are launching a new product called Bytes, with your financial information in 30 second videos.

Manoj: That is a very good example of being customer centric – not just making the transaction faster or easier, but understanding that the customers wants to maximize his wealth and not lose money. Faisal, how do you see the entire ecosystem become more digital and seamless as customers do financial transactions via retailers, hospitals, etc?

Faisal: The most important or the critical aspect is gaining visibility of what exactly the customer’s journey is. What are the touchpoints in the entire transaction. If we don’t have the visibility, we may not know what exactly the customer is going through or what the problem is. So, the integrations of systems is very important. It could be in-house systems and third-party systems. Apart from integration, systems should be agile to adopt to newer technologies because today, customers are moving to newer platforms at a click of a button.

Ajit: A leading private sector bank that is into SME lending runs a platform with 57 API calls and has 45+ partners. All API calls were running on our platform and all that platform is monitored by Dynatrace. We have reached a level where our platforms are very flexible and can accommodate more and more services. There is a constant fight happening for innovation, for giving better services to customer. Banks are continuously putting pressure on vendors like us and then software application vendors, and their own employees to learn. And that is a positive cycle of continuous innovation happening.

With the financial regulator, we have done very interesting projects on reporting, where reporting become very easy. Typically, a bank has to send hundreds of reports. Earlier it was manual, now it is system to system. Just to showcase, the entire Aadhar authentication runs on our platform. Sales tax runs on our platform.

Faisal: Whether it is RBI or SEBI or IRDAI, when we speak to so many organizations today, one thing is common that it’s more about the cultural shift that they need to adopt. See, nobody can challenge the regulations and so changes will keep coming. There’s a lot of cultural change that needs to come in, especially after the pandemic. Most organizations are fighting a different battle on that side as well. That is beyond technology, but technology has been helping organizations understand a better about end customer and employees.

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