Redefining customer engagement in the BFSI & Fintech sectors – A view from inside


Client relationship management is the cornerstone of any successful enterprise. Fostering an open and consistent line of communication with clients essentially helps serve them more efficiently and solve problems faster, shared Tanisha Doshi, Director, Growth & Strategy, WebEngage, in an exclusive interaction with Srajan Agarwal of Elets News Network (ENN).

In your experience, how do you see the appetite for Martech solutions evolving in the BFSI & Fintech sector? What have been some of the winning tools/channel mixes that have worked for the sector?

Over the past several years, the BFSI industry in India has witnessed transformative changes driven by technological advancements, regulatory reforms, and shifting consumer preferences. Digitalisation has been a cornerstone of these transformations which have given rise to a surge in online transactions, mobile banking, and above all, the emergence of new-age financial institutions or fintech startups that are challenging the very framework of these traditional institutions.

The adoption of AI, ML, blockchain, and cloud computing among others, has enhanced several fundamental and operational processes that define the business model of financial institutions such as risk management, fraud detection, transparency and safety in transactions, contactless transactions, etc. Significant among these changes is the nature of customer servicing and managing customer experiences, corresponding to which, customer behaviour and expectations have also evolved. The marketing strategies and the integration of technology therein have therefore been a natural outcome of these transformations. Digital customer engagement is no longer a differentiator, but something customers have taken for granted, and the industry has followed suit.

According to the findings in the Spring 2023 Edition of WebEngage’s State of Retention Marketing Report, the BFSI & Fintech industry sent over 24 Billion messages in 2022, wherein they continued to place huge bets on App Push Notifications & Emails, accounting for 91 per cent of all messages. Another trend that was observed was the increasing reliance on channels like SMS and Web Push as well. WhatsApp continues to be a key focus area for BFSI companies, reflected in the consistent increase in volumes in 2022.

All channels combined, these companies witnessed an average Open Rate of 38 per cent, an average Click-through Rate of 0.9 per cent, and an average Conversion Rate of 3.1 per cent. Where some months saw a greater spike than others, there has been an overall month-on-month increase in the number of user-engagement messages sent, to the tune of 2.7 per cent.

Concerning traditional banking and financial institutions, what are some of the key challenges you have identified concerning enhancing customer retention and integrating martech solutions?

Given the traditional business models of older banking and financial institutions, a complete digital overhaul no doubt has come with its challenges. Tech adoption for customer engagement and retention strategies is no exception. Some of the key challenges include:

Also Read | Adoption of conversation intelligence in banking: Accelerating frictionless customer engagement

  • Legacy Systems: Transitioning from outdated IT infrastructure to agile technologies is time and cost-intensive for many traditional institutions, hindering seamless integration of modern martech solutions.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Stringent regulations in the BFSI sector demand careful navigation when integrating new martech solutions, adding complexity and requiring adherence to legal frameworks.
  • Data management: Legacy institutions operate data management in silos, complicating the consolidation process for effective martech applications. Ensuring security and privacy adds an extra layer of complexity due to the sensitive nature of customer data.
  • Cultural Resistance: Traditional organisational cultures in India may resist change and be reluctant to adopt new technologies. Overcoming this resistance necessitates significant investment in training programs and change management strategies, impacting customer trust in digital initiatives.
  • Difficulty in choosing the right solutions: The cost-intensive nature of adopting martech tools, coupled with the multitude of available options, poses barriers to decision-making. The complexity of selecting and implementing tools, as highlighted in the Mirum India Martech Report 2023, further adds uncertainty about the return on investment, with 57% of respondents unsure about the ROI of using martech tools.
  • Customisation Requirements: Aligning martech solutions with the specific needs and workflows of individual financial institutions often requires customisation, presenting challenges, especially with rigid legacy systems.

From your experience, how would you describe the shifts in customer behaviour that pertain to BFSI and Fintech sectors? How have customer expectations evolved in a digital-first era?

For quite some time now, the trust and customer experience vis-a-vis banks and financial institutions are no longer hinged on brick-and-mortar establishments. Consumers have gained greater access to and become more fluent and comfortable with digital technologies than ever before. It can be surmised that this has contributed to the emergence and growth of the sprawling fintech industry in the country. Consequently, building trust among today’s customers therefore requires a different approach. Consumer characteristics and expectations today can be summarised as follows:

2-minute banking: ‘Instant’ and ‘convenience’ are two significant buzzwords to describe today’s customers. Customers want instant support across all touchpoints. There is now an all-pervasive expectation of being able to transact, have their queries addressed, and gain access to information at their fingertips and within seconds.

Empathy: The best way to engage with customers today is by demonstrating empathy and a nuanced understanding of the customers and their pain points. While this is a more universal truth, it rings especially true for the BFSI sector, given its inherent complexity. Customers expect their banking and financial partners to double up as advisors for their financial planning needs. Simple, relevant, and clear communication with consumers makes them feel understood and mitigates the risk of alienation.

Values: Another significant characteristic of today’s consumers is that they all stand for certain strongly held values and it also drives a sense of belonging to the larger community. Any effort by brands/organisations to attract and retain customers must consider this while communicating with them, as customers today place a lot of emphasis on aligning with brands that espouse shared values.

In your extensive career, you demonstrated success in client relationship management. How do you approach building and maintaining long-term relationships with clients in the BFSI sector? What are some of the differentiating nuances, as compared to other sectors?

Client relationship management is the cornerstone of any successful enterprise. Fostering an open and consistent line of communication with clients essentially helps serve them more efficiently and solve problems faster. In the case of WebEngage, this has been a huge contributing factor in enabling us to understand the nuanced industry-specific customer engagement challenges that our clients face, to be able to make the most optimal recommendations and solutions for them.

As far as the BFSI sector is concerned, especially with regards to the older/legacy institutions, this assumes an added responsibility on our part as it involves assuaging a lot of apprehensions and concerns that stem from data privacy and safety, and regulatory compliances that characterise this sector. So, a lot of my focus while establishing and maintaining a relationship with enterprises within this sector, would involve a more hands-on approach wherein we walk them through the offerings, new solutions, implications of regulatory shifts, etc, every step of the way.

How has WebEngage’s forward-thinking approach led to successful strategies in BFSI and FinTech? Share specific instances. Additionally, how do WebEngage’s solutions address challenges in these sectors, with examples of enhancing customer engagement and retention?

One of our basic guiding principles at WebEngage is that customisation is essential, and templatised solutions/stacks cannot be force-fitted to solve similar problems of 2 different brands, or any 2 problems of the same brand. Simply put, no two problems look the same, and cannot be approached with a cookie cutter.

This drives us to work very closely with customers to draw up a roadmap and strategy for them that has held us in good stead thus far. For example, Acko, a general insurance company which helps users avail secure insurance for cars, two-wheelers, taxis and health through their website and app with ease, was facing certain challenges. These were stemming from

  • a lack of consolidated data,
  • difficulties in contextually reaching out to policyholders at the right time, and
  • monitoring policyholders’ action at scale.

What it sought to do with our platform was to win back dropped leads, increase the number of policy renewals, and automate the claim settlement process. To solve this, we approached this with three strategies:

  • Data-driven, action-based win-back campaigns – Utilising WebEngage Journey Designer, Acko employed data-backed campaigns to re-engage dropped leads, creating action-based journeys that prompted them to purchase preferred policies.
  • Timely, contextual messaging using customer journeys – Leveraging WebEngage Journey Designer, Acko adopted a multi-channel engagement strategy, sending timely, contextual messages to policyholders to enhance policy renewals.
  • Event-based, automated claim settlement process: Acko automated claim settlements by tracking user actions on its app/website. Mapping relevant events on the WebEngage dashboard enabled them to send contextual communications to policyholders during claim requests.

The adoption of this approach resulted in:

  • A 14.76 per cent lead conversion into policyholders
  • A 17.32 per cent increase in policy renewals, and
  • A 2x reduction in man hours spent

Considering the fast-paced changes in the digital marketing and customer engagement landscape, what trends do you foresee shaping the strategies and priorities of companies in the BFSI sector in the coming years, and how is WebEngage preparing for these shifts?

The fast-evolving digital landscape is influencing how brands engage with customers and vice-versa. While innovations in the technology sphere are fast-paced, the basic consumer/human truths will hold. It then boils down to how the newer innovations can be best leveraged to be able to deliver an exquisite customer experience at speed and scale.

Also Read | Unveiling the power of data analytics: Revolutionising customer engagement in fintech

  • Digital-First Approach: Traditional banking must embrace digital, crucial for newer generations entering the sector.
  • Omnichannel Strategy: Brands, old or new, must seamlessly engage with customers across diverse channels, addressing the TikTok and Instagram audience.
    Creative Messaging: Banking topics need not be dull; creative approaches with mixed media, driven by advanced technologies like Generative AI, are gaining relevance.
  • Data-Driven Retention: A data-centric approach is vital for effective retention and engagement strategies, with the precision of insights enhancing customer experience.
  • Contextually Relevant Messaging: Tailoring messages to shifting contexts and customer expectations, supported by swift data processing, remains critical for strategic success.

At WebEngage, our focus has always been to be able to deliver the most nuanced and dynamic solutions that can be adapted to meet the ever-evolving market dynamics and customer needs. One size does not fit all. To that end, we work tirelessly to constantly increase the sophistication of our offerings and waste no time in adopting new technologies and integrating them into our stack. What helps us stay ahead of the curve is to constantly have an eye on the ground realities that impact our customers, and work with them in a collaborative framework.

Furthermore, in the coming years, as the tech landscape continues to evolve, so will the regulatory framework governing the sector. We expect to shift gears on the hands-on approach that we take with our customers, to be able to manage their concerns and queries but also get a more first-hand understanding of the on-ground customer sentiment and needs.

"Exciting news! Elets Banking & Finance Post is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest insights!" Click here!

Elets The Banking and Finance Post Magazine has carved out a niche for itself in the crowded market with exclusive & unique content. Get in-depth insights on trend-setting innovations & transformation in the BFSI sector. Best offers for Print + Digital issues! Subscribe here➔

Get a chance to meet the Who's who of the Banking & Finance industry. Join Us for Upcoming Events and explore business opportunities. Like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.