Day 28 – The Fight Continues

It’s only been a few months since I took up a new role at Aegon Life. Just a couple of weeks after joining Aegon, India launched a strict #lockdown protocol in response to the #Covid19 pandemic. Originally meant to last 21 days, it has now been extended in its second phase.

When the office moved to a work-from-home setup, I began a series of emails to address the extended team every week or so. The idea was to engage with them, thank them (and their families) for their continued dedication and hard work, and share with them helpful information from time to time.

Covid-19 is surely making a significant impact on India and the world. And, will probably change dynamics for a long time to come. But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. Does it?

Here are a few links from my emails that you may also find useful…

Lessons from Covid-19 that can make the world a better place:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/view-lessons-from-covid-19-can-make-the-world-a-better-place/articleshow/75130671.cms

5 critical money lessons taught by the Covid-19 crisis:

https://www.financialexpress.com/money/5-critical-money-lessons-taught-by-the-covid-19-crisis/1934945/

Last week, the world also saw a global virtual concert in support of the WHO that featured performances from multiple celebrities and has raised over $127Mn. You may be able to view it online if you missed the broadcast. Alternatively, try this link:

https://www.voot.com/shows/one-world-together-at-home/1/936639/a-global-salute-to-the-real-heroes/936885

And, 8 Lessons from the Army on Leading Remotely during a Lockdown:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/leading-remotely-lessons-from-the-army-120040200301_1.html

We are all learning to navigate the “new normal”. And it’s hard to stay cooped-up inside the house (especially in the India context), deal with daily home needs, and continue to deliver on work.

If you can find some ways to make it easier for the folks you interact with, I’d strongly urge you to do so.

We could all do with a helping hand, especially in times of crisis. Let’s do our best to help out those we can. Shall we?

What Really Matters

Every business acknowledges that the reason for their existence is the Customer. Every business wants to design products and services that are meant to address their customers’ needs. Yet, almost every business struggles to understand what their customers really want from them.

Is it any wonder that billions are spent worldwide in trying to gauge the truth of the matter, via interactions driven by focused groups and metrics like C-SAT and NPS? To make matters worse, in this Age of Digital and A.I., the “Customer” is also ever evolving!

How do you make sense of it all? 

Yes, customers do exhibit different personalities and needs. But, there are a few insights and common traits that can help most businesses get going.

Here are some of my learnings…

In the India context, it helps to keep in mind that the first 100 Mn Digital Consumers were Younger, More Urban, More Men, More Desktop, while the last 100 Mn are relatively Older, More Rural, More Women, More Mobile.

That said, customers all over the world are figuring out how they can leverage the abundance of Technology that now comes embedded in most platforms, products and services.

They want more and more to happen via Digital channels, so they can access it On-The-Go.

They want lesser clicks, faster page loads, shorter queues, reduced turnaround times, smaller forms.

They want more self-service options (Starbucks?), and want less IVRS interactions (Your call is important to us…?).

In other words, they want their interactions with your brand to be relevant, useful and enjoyable.

Oh, and thanks to online forums, reviews, ratings, and social media exchanges, they probably know more about your product or service than your Sales agent does!

Keep these factors in mind when trying to improve relevance of your offerings, instead of simply believing “you know what’s best for them”. And, don’t leave any opportunity to talk to a real customer – to listen to what really matters to them.

After all, there is just no substitute for a real conversation.

Survival of the Fittest

This post was also featured on the CRMAsia blog.

The headlines keep spewing out paranoia:

AI is taking over hundreds of jobs!
Uber and Ola have all but replaced traditional cabs!!
The hospitality industry objects to predatory pricing by Oyo!!!

So, what does all this mean for corporates, marketers and industry professionals like you and me? Should we become paranoid too? Should we be doing something else instead? Is it already too late?

Here are some interesting statistics compiled by HostingFacts:

  • There are 4.1 billion Internet users in the world (Dec 2018)
  • China has the most Internet users for any country (~802 million or ~20 percent of total), trailed by India (~500 million)
  • Amazon is responsible for more than 49 percent of all online sales and about 5 percent of all retail sales in the U.S.
  • There are 3.7 billion global mobile Internet users (Jan 2018)
  • About 75 percent of ecommerce sales in China are done via mobile devices
  • Mobile traffic is responsible for 52.2 percent of Internet traffic in 2018

The combination of super-cheap data plans (as in Jio) and super-cheap smartphones (as in Android + China) is already making a dent in India. With a plethora of payment platforms (PayTM, RuPay, etc.) that enable everything from micro-payments and P2P money transfers to mutual funds and ticket booking, Indians are also embracing newer ways of dealing with money. And, we are only at the nascent stage of this ‘perfect storm’, as it were.

Whichever way you look at it, the Indian consumer is doing more on their mobile phones today than ever before. Even without the local language content that millions of them want and need. Even without high-speed internet access in their semi-urban and rural towns. Even if it means that their first exposure to the world wide web (remember WWW?!) is on a 2-inch device in their pocket.

So, if you think “going digital” means creating a website and posting some brochureware content on it that gets updated every quarter, you’ve got another thing coming. If you already have a web presence but it doesn’t render elegantly on a mobile screen, you have a lot of catching up to do. If you’re a marketer who thinks all this “AI” stuff is for the geeks in your IT department (or even for your ‘Digital’ team), you may need to learn some harsh truths real soon. And, if you think your business is all offline, so you can continue to manage it the way you have been doing for decades – may be you do need some paranoia in your life.

Voice, Video and Vernacular (content) are going to be the success drivers of tomorrow. Add Velocity to the mix, and you will have a potent combination of forces at play. The environment is certainly ripe for disruption. The only question is will you be making it happen, watching in wonder as it happens, or wonder what happened?!

This post was also featured on the CRMAsia blog.