Praveen Paulose, MD & CEO, Celusion Technologies

Born in 1978 in Mumbai, Praveen completed his schooling from St. Mary’s High School, Mt. Abu (Boarding School in Rajasthan). He completed his Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from D.Y. Patil College of Engineering, Mumbai. After a brief period of employment, he became a first generation entrepreneur when he started Celusion Technologies. The idea was based on the premise that they could build great software but today their software is changing the way people look at finance.

 

 

In a changing business landscape that is dominated by digitisation, it is imperative that financial institutions streamline their customer acquisition process to stay relevant and competitive. The world has evolved and sticking to the traditional approach without adapting to the new normal could invite the fate of the dinosaurs and drive businesses to extinction. The need of the hour is to remain nimble and make necessary changes to adjust to the changing dynamics of customer acquisition.

Onboarding customers cannot have a “one size fits all” strategy. It will require a multi-pronged approach to maximize the acquisitions through each channel. Financial institutions will need to have an omnichannel strategy where one channel can feed into or be complemented by another to complete the onboarding process. Having digital platforms provides a 24/7 window for customer acquisition that is free from the limitations of banking hours/holidays. It offers flexibility to customers to explore products at a time of their convenience.

While some customers may onboard themselves independently via the digital platform, there would be another set of customers who would need some hand-holding or human touch to complete the process. The telesales team or the branch sales team should use the information about half-filled forms to contact the customers and conclude the onboarding.

Why is it critical for financial institutions to streamline customer acquisition?

There are several reasons why tweaking the customer acquisition process to meet the needs of a changing world is critical. Let us explore a few of them in detail.

Increase the business

The purpose of business is to do business and acquire more customers. Onboarding new customers are the raison d’etre of business and every strategy should move towards the fulfilment of this outcome. Having access to multiple customer acquisition channels improves the probability of getting more customers and should definitely be explored. Given the explosive success of fintech platforms, existing banks and financial institutions have moved towards acquiring such platforms or designing independent digital platforms for the same purpose. With the increase in smartphone users and access to cheap internet, it is a logical extension to actively use the mobile and web for customer onboarding. Financial institutions will be required to build the infrastructure to manage all channels – branches, telesales, web, mobile and social media to ensure maximization of customer acquisition round the clock.

Reduce operational cost

Having access to multiple channels will give financial institutions an opportunity to explore the success rates of each channel. Using data analytics the performance of different channels can be monitored based on which allocation of resources to the best performing channels can be increased. Increased use of digital channels will reduce operational costs in terms of hiring human resources. The available manpower can be productively deployed to manage core business activities. Digital platforms reduce turnaround time for customer onboarding improving productivity. This leads to considerable time and costs savings while promoting efficiencies.

Stay competitive

In a highly tech-savvy world, staying ahead of the competition is essential for mere survival. No financial institution can afford to ignore the new customer acquisition channels. Digital platforms have to be set up to provide an excellent customer experience. Ignoring the elephant in the room can be injurious to the health of the organisation.While traditional channels will continue to exist to meet the needs of a large customer base that may not have transitioned to digital banking, the need of the hour is to tap all new channels to provide new generation customers with a safe, seamless experience at their fingertips. It is important to achieve a balance between channels and explore synergies.

Support the potential of a remote workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic opened up the viability of remote workforces. Almost overnight, workplaces underwent a transformation as they switched from physical to virtual mode. Business continued as usual with employees logging in from home. Meetings moved to video conferencing as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams chipped in. Whatsapp,Google Messenger and Email became the modes of communication. The runaway success of this model during the crisis has ensured that hybrid workplaces will be here to stay when the world returns to the new normal. The availability of multiple customer acquisition channels will support the unlimited potential of the remote workforce.

To sum up, Customer acquisition channels need not be mutually exclusive. Financial institutions can maintain a presence in all channels and use customer analytics to tweak the performance of each model. Over a period of time, these channels will complement each other as customers would start the onboarding process in one channel and probably complete it in another. It is important to keep all lines of communication open with customers. Digital marketing will continue to play a lead role in spreading awareness about the products and services and providing ready access to customers at a time and place of their choice.

The streamlining of the customer acquisition process is bound to have successful business outcomes as it will tap the potential of technology to improve the business ecosystem adding value to all the stakeholders. As businesses try to better understand changing customer preferences and psychology, they will be able to provide tailored experiences that exceed customer expectations. This will lead to cross-selling and up-selling opportunities that will add to increased loyalty and enhanced customer satisfaction levels.

As the world slowly moves to put the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic behind it and firmly focus on the way ahead, it is the right time for financial institutions to survey the change in the business climate and consumer behaviour and create winning strategies that cover all the opportunities available. Exciting times are ahead as businesses put their best foot forward to successfully negotiate the new normal.

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