Digital until recently was an enabler, but today it has become a necessity. “Revolutions are not born of chance but of necessity,” had said Victor Hugo.
Shift in business strategy
“We are witnessing a fundamental shift in business strategy and therefore digital leaders are stepping up and quickly giving business solutions for today and the future as it is being envisaged,” says Tina Singh, Chief Digital Officer, Mahindra Finance.
Remote servicing of customers, doorstep delivery of products, digital sale of products and services will have to overcome process and mindset hurdles to become truly seamless. “A CDO’s strategy is shifting from digital being one of the channels of the business, to becoming the business,” says Singh.
This may be faster for some businesses than others. Singh adds, “For Mahindra Finance which predominantly services customers in semi-urban and rural areas, physical appraisal and customer relationships at the local level are very important. We have to now drive our business retaining this foundation. We are empowering our employees, customers and other stakeholders by proving them with strong digital alternatives. The endeavour is that these alternatives should be good enough so that the users find them more convenient than what they currently have. From doing business digitally to digitally-led businesses, today digital is embedded in our organisational strategy.”
Holistic approach to ensure business growth and customer loyalty
“One Customer – One Mahindra Finance” is Mahindra Finance’s motto. For its lending and fixed deposits customers, the company offers a bouquet of all services through the Mahindra Finance customer mobile app. The application is extremely useful and user-friendly.
“Better customer experience is the goal for all successful organisations. We fervently believe that if we take care of our customers, they will stay with us. That’s better for our business. At the same time, we believe in empowering our employees to help service our customers to their satisfaction at the time of the acquisition,” she says.
Mahindra Finance has an employee app that has enabled field executives to process the application, approval, and sanction of loans in real-time. It provides instant credit approval, thereby, reducing disbursement TAT. This not only helps in improving productivity in their operations but also in enhancing customer experience.
While front-end features are important, they have to be enabled by equally sophisticated backend processes. To do so, Singh has restructured the entire IT and data architecture in order to deliver world-class uptime and stability, along with advanced data management capability. This enables a smooth experience when customers use their digital products and services.
All this focus on improving customer experience in every aspect, is bringing in repeat usage and repeat customers, points out Singh.
Technology affecting CDO’s tenure
The role of CDOs has come to the fore due to rapid changes in technology and emergence of newer technologies and trends like proliferation of connected devices, AI, blockchain, etc. She further asserts, “Organisations needed someone who could go out there – understand, research and test new technologies while the CIO ensured the stability of current business systems. Someone who could look at technology from the customer’s perspective, how could it enhance the experience, reduce time, save cost.”
Singh believes that the CDO’s role is to solve business problems using technology, and while doing that change mindsets on how products and service delivery can be transformed using technology. “The pace of change is going to only increase in the future and this role is going to get integrated tightly with each aspect and function of the organisation,” she asserts.
Employing data insights
Mahindra Finance is successfully mining data to build powerful machine learning analytics models extended through digital platforms for customer acquisition, collections, NPA management, customer engagement and forecasting business trends. The company is utilising data insight to vastly improve customer experience, and to steer policy and process changes at the organisational level.
Challenges with emerging tech
While there are new possibilities with each of the emerging technologies, implementing them is not an easy task, acknowledges Singh. “For starters, there remains a paucity of talent in the ecosystem that can create solutions using these technologies. Secondly, creating viable use cases of new technologies requires changes in the existing way of doing things and there could be resistance at the execution level – if it ain’t broke why fix it. Dynamic leadership and management willing to invest and experiment is key to the success of a digital strategy,” Singh adds.