The DMAi Convention 2013 hosted on 4 and 5 June in Mumbai saw Manisha Lath Gupta , CMO, Axis Bank, explain the brand’s approach to data and its new loyalty program EDGE.
She was speaking on day two of the Convention at a session themed ‘Loyalty to build higher consumer engagement with the brand’, curated by Vinay Bhatia, senior vice president - marketing and loyalty, Shopper’s Stop, and Deepali Naair, country head - brand, corporate communications and customer service, L&T Insurance.
Data from the lens of a marketer
Explaining the brand promise of ‘Badthi ka naam zindagi’, Gupta took the audience through how data is viewed from a marketer’s lens in the financial services category, with the case of Axis Bank.
She explained how banks, like telcos and retailers, have access to a lot of customer usage data.
“This has helped us in many ways to address customer needs, including creation of new products. It has helped us up the pace of innovation on new products. But unlike sectors like FMCG, introducing a new product is very different in financial services. For example, when it comes to pricing a product, we have many more things to factor in – when you are required to communicate to customers three months in advance, sometimes the cost of communication itself can be more than what we might earn from that product,” explained Gupta.
Among new products that Axis Bank has introduced with insights from data is a savings account for youth. In their case, it was found that youth hardly visit branches, with online being the primary mode of transactions. This helped create a no-balance product for them, as costs they added in branch transactions were negligible, the CMO pointed out.
Rooted in the insight of cash lying around at home and the utility needs of the target group, the bank went on to launch a debit card product for housewives – husbands could transfer money, while housewives used it primarily for shopping and the rare cash withdrawals.
“In case of senior citizens, they like to come to the brand; it is almost like a ritual. So we have had to price products for them accordingly. But what we observe is that they maintain a certain balance in their accounts, so it offsets the cost,” Gupta added.
Looking beyond acquisition
Gupta cited that sometimes, a customer opens a bank account, with little or no activity thereafter. In a category as ‘boring’ as banking, the onus is on the bank to keep the consumer engaged for mutual benefit, noted the marketing head. She divided the approach to customer into four steps: acquisition, activation, value management and retention.
“Once acquired, which is the easier part, we have to keep him or her engaged in a perpetually deepening relationship. That’s what impacts our profitability,” explained Gupta, leading to the subject of data usage to help take relevant action based on each customer’s life stage and behaviour. Products and services in the portfolio are then targeted at customers basis data and analytics.
Multiple campaigns with small sets of data through multiple channels are used to test what works, before targeted campaigns are implemented on scale, added Gupta. To help with customers not veering towards the other end of the life cycle, in-built processes to indentify early attrition are in place.
Sales call versus service call
The CMO emphasises on customising offerings based on consumer life stage and need, basis data from behaviour and intelligent analytics.
She said, ‘When you use data and analytics that is so rooted in insights, the sales call starts looking like a service call. The customer actually wonders, ‘How did the bank know I was looking for this?’ The day that happens – that’s when we know we’re sticking true to our core brand promise.”
The bank’s loyalty program for card holders has made way for EDGE, which straddles all offerings from the bank. “EDGE has been conceived to be more loyal to the customer than it is to the bank,” reflected Gupta.
This is explained by redemption starting at 300 points across products and services, with the tally beginning with the opening of an account. The intent, according to the spokesperson, was to use analytics to keep moving the customer upwards in the chain, with knowledge of when a certain number of customers will reach a certain threshold in the cycle.
Underlining the creation of ‘Customer Experience’ using data, she cited examples from Axis Bank, including: solution to ‘multiple debit’ complaints, reduction of time spent at branches, and generation of pin numbers by customers themselves.
Customer value score
Understanding how profitable a customer is, is another critical function of data that the CMO pointed out. She reasoned that usage of data to understand how profitable each customer is, allows our staff to take strategic calls on customers - rather than take calls on the basis of personal relationships.
Gupta surmised, “Data and analytics helps us engage with customers with what is relevant to them.”
Helping the Bank in this journey are AIMIA, which is handling the loyalty program EDGE, and Hansa Cequity, the digital communication partner.