State Bank of India-Innovating for Banking Excellence

Dinesh Menon
Dinesh Menon, Chief Marketing Officer, State Bank of India

The State Bank of India (SBI) has always been at the forefront of adopting technology to deliver better customer experience. It launched India’s most comprehensive digital platform that offers not just banking services, but also lifestyle and utility services, all under one roof, says Dinesh Menon, Chief Marketing Officer, State Bank of India, in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).

Post-merger, the State Bank of India (SBI) is now the biggest bank in the country. How challenging is it to work with such a big entity?

Any large organisation, the world over has its own challenges. That said, how smoothly and successfully an organisation functions depends on two key aspects — organisational culture and, more importantly, the leadership team’s clarity of vision and guidance. At SBI, when the merger happened, we were well-prepared to merge with our associate banks from all aspects as a dedicated team was set up to ensure it, went off smoothly.

Key elements in a merger include seamless IT integration, managing different work cultures, procedures and policies and most importantly, being sensitive to people who would come into the merged entity. SBI had all of these taped up and there was hardly any glitch in the merger. Working for a large entity is indeed challenging. To begin with, one has to be pretty clued into what all is going on across the organisation, manage/ align with varied stakeholders, set expectations of what you can deliver / can’t deliver.

SBI holds a lot of popularity among the older populace. What measures did you initiate to attract the younger generation towards your bank?

By virtue of its legacy, SBI certainly enjoys loyal patronage of a significant section of the older populace. But it is a wrong notion that it does not attract the younger generation. That said, it would be fair to say that brand SBI indeed faces competition in the urban markets when it comes to attracting urban millennials. We have always been cognizant of the fact that for us to be relevant to the youth, we need to adopt new technologies to deliver better/ smarter customer experiences…which is what the younger generation gravitates to. In November 2017, we launched India’s most comprehensive digital platform that offers not just banking services, but all financial services and lifestyle services as well, all under one roof. Right from the brand name YONO (You Only Need One) to its persona, the tonality of advertising, we have adopted a youthful attitude in positioning YONO as a youthful and new-age brand. The best testimony of this attempt is the downloads and growth in monthly activities we are witnessing among the youth.

What are your views on fintech industry? How has it changed the marketing functions across the BFSI sector?

The Fintech Industry has been one of the most telling and visible manifestations of technological disruptions in India. It has redefined the BFSI landscape and put the customer in the sweet spot – both from a CX perspective and from a value perspective. Suddenly, traditional finserv marketers have a new category of competition to worry about which not only includes the new age start-ups, but established giants like Google, Amazon, Apple etc. It has changed the marketing function on many counts – ranging from product proposition, delivery and experience design. A large influence of the fintech revolution has been the increase in both, digitisation and smarter use digital marketing as well.

 How different is SBI as compared to its private counterparts from marketing point of view?

 The SBI is perhaps the biggest and most visible advertiser in the BSFI sector. Since it is the only brand that caters to the widest cross-section of our populace, we have had to and continue to keep experimenting with new ideas. Over the past three years, we have made concerted efforts in trying to be not just relevant, but both contemporary and unique in our communication. We have invested in creating unique properties such as the Yono 20 under 20 and Numero Yono. We have increased our investments in digital marketing to better the ROI. The marketing & advertising industry has taken note of the change that brand SBI has brought about in its marketing over the last couple of years, with even a few awards coming our way, especially for our initiatives in digital marketing.

Cybersecurity holds a vital place in today’s digital banking era. How to spread awareness in this regard through marketing?

Cybersecurity is very central to the growth of digital banking. Every bank, in collaboration with the IBA should stay invested in enhancing awareness among users on a continuous basis, which would help allay fears among users. There should be severe punitive action for cyber fraudsters so it sends a serious message. People should be made conscious of dos and don’ts when using digital banking. Banks should commit to this firmly on a sustained basis for digital banking to become common place and for it to thrive.

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