‘The pandemic-induced digitization of the business landscape is here to stay: Harsha Solanki, MD, Infobip’

Harsha Solanki

The second wave of the deadly pandemic is deepening the already existing challenges for the BFSI sector. To understand how these testing times are redefining the technology solution providers, Elets News Network (ENN) interacted with Harsha Solanki, Managing Director, Infobip. During the interview Solanki said, “The pandemic will go down in history as a period of great uncertainty. At the same time, it will also be remembered that when everything seemed uncertain, it was the digital connectivity that gave the world a semblance of constancy. Having said that, considering the present trends, it does not require a stretch of the imagination to say that the pandemic-induced digitization of the business landscape is here to stay.”

1. How significant, as well as challenging, is building customer relationships in this digital era? How is infobip helping BFSI institutions in ensuring customer relationships with personalised messages, smart automation, and more?

Its always been important to build good customer relationships but today in the digital era it has become imperative. Given the speed and ease that consumers have to change providers, together with the fact that today most conversations between a brand and a consumer is started by the customer, there is no room for complacency. So challenges are two-fold. The first entails being able to accommodate the myriad touchpoints used by customers today to engage with brands and service providers. That is a question of how far and fast a business can digitally transform. The second relates to the ability to remain personable with your customers, making every communication contextual– as it is during a face-to-face encounter with a returning customer. However, the technical aspect of the medium is often considered the real challenge here when in fact it is the very enabler given the communication preferences of consumers today. It is worth looking for a provider that can address all the channel requirements based on how your customers like to interact and then look at how to get the best functionality from the chosen platform.

Often lost inside the voiceless and faceless nature of digital communications, brands forget that the people they are interacting with are still full-fledged human beings. This might sound absurd but it is true. As part of our latest survey, we found that 74% of consumers believe brands’ messaging lacks a personalized, human connection. A lack of value-driven personalization in existing engagement strategies deployed by brands continues to alienate customer bases, with nearly half (47%) of the respondents admitting that they ignore any impersonalized messages they receive.

As a result, the communication gap between brands and customers continues to grow wider despite the best efforts of businesses to bridge them. What brands need, against this backdrop is a cohesive, connected, omnichannel engagement strategy. This is where Infobip’s tech-led solutions enter the picture. Powered by automation and analytics, our SaaS products including Moments, Conversations, and Answers are designed to accurately classify customers into segments based on precision-tailored metrics necessary for equipping communication strategies with an unmatched level of personalization. In other words, we empower brands across sectors to engage with their customers using the right messaging at the right time over the right digital channel.

For instance, Infobip’s omnichannel capabilities have empowered Muthoot FinCorp to deploy and monitor automated, multilingual, and personalized campaigns across SMS, email, WhatsApp, and voice-based solution. This enabled the financial conglomerate to push the pedal on its digital transformation by ensuring its omnipresence across digital channels. Asa result, Muthoot FinCorpmade digital adoption easier for its customers on the channel of their choice while delivering efficient and real-time customer support.

To take another example, Infobip helped BankBazaar enrich its SMS-based engagement strategy by leveraging the RCS (Rich Communication Services) solution. After integrating RCS into its engagement strategy, BankBazaar drove a 130% higher CTR as compared to previous SMS campaigns.

2. Would you like to tell us about your solutions pertaining to chatbots? Is deploying AI Chatbot a cost-efficient decision?

Our SaaS portfolio includes Answers, a self-service chatbot solution. It is designed to empower new-age brands to offer 24/7 support to customers on the platform of their choice by deploying automated chatbots over a single conversational user interface. Integrating automated virtual assistant support has been observed to help brands markedly drive up ROI. The answer is Infobip’s chatbot building platform that enables businesses to build, test, and deploy artificial intelligence and keyword-based chatbots. By deploying chatbots, you can lower your customer support operational costs, and at the same time, increase customer satisfaction by providing support 24/7/365.

By automating standardized, low-value inbound tickets, chatbots can blend here as a perfect solution to an increase in customer support tickets and growing customer expectations for quick resolutions.

Our platform uses in-house built AI driven NLP (Natural Language Processing) engine which enables chatbots to understand customer’s intent and to provide a fully conversational experience. In this sense, it is very cost-effective in terms of time-to-value for the customer as well as time efficiencies for agents. Additionally, whenever there is a need to escalate a conversation to a live agent, our solution offers integration with Conversations, Infobip cloud contact center.

3. Keeping the current scenario in mind how helpful are the chat apps?”

In the post-pandemic world, in-person engagement is not an ideal form of communication on account of the risk of accidental transmission involved. Besides the safety factor, the pandemic has also driven a large-scale shift toward the online medium. Nearly half (46%) of people mentioned in our recent report that, following the viral outbreak, technology is playing a greater role in how they engage with brands. Moreover, we found that 35% of customers are happier to engage with brands on digital channels in the post-pandemic, post-lockdown era. We believe that this number is only going to increase. Against this backdrop, brands need to be prepared to offer real-time customer support over the preferred digital channel of their customer to maximize the success of their business communication – and automated chatbots empower them to achieve precisely this.

4. Your website quotes, “Take advantage of technological innovation from engineers behind the digital transformation of 350 banks”. Is India, a part of this number? How important is digital transformation, especially for banks in India?

As the world’s second-largest telecommunications market and home to the second-largest population of internet users across the globe, India is one of the most important markets for us. It is also a burgeoning digital market, with brands across sectors doubling down on their digital transformation. Banks and other financial institutions in the larger BFSI industry are no exception. In fact, some of the big names that have enriched their engagement strategies by leveraging Infobip solutions include BankBazaar, Muthoot FinCorp, Angel Broking, etc. Digital transformation for banks is absolutely essential in India. The post-demonetization era had triggered a fintech revolution in the country, encouraging people to adopt digital payment services. In the post-2020 landscape, adopting fintech services is no longer an option but a necessity. Having said that, the onus of offering seamless fintech services to customers, not just in urban areas, but also in remote and rural regions falls on the banking sector. Financial inclusion is critical to achieving the PM’s dream of making India a truly digital-first nation, and we, on the back of our suite of advanced business communication solutions, are committed to helping our clients to accomplish this goal.

5. What solutions do you offer to improve Security and Client Trust for financial institutions?

Infobip’s range of solutions is aimed at empowering financial institutions to enhance their marketing and services to deliver better, faster, and more seamless mobile experiences to their customers. The goal is to help our clients to gain and bolster the trust of their customer base. Security is a crucial component of this project. In view of this, our omnichannel services over Azure are equipped to ensure data protection, compliance, safe integrations for payments, and logistics. By integrating our solutions, financial players can confirm transactions with interactive push for customers with the mobile app while sending verification codes securely over the channel of the customer’s choice, be it WhatsApp, SMS, or any other messenger app and channel. To provide an extra layer of security, our clients can also enable two-factor authentication to validate a transaction. Our solutions also allow BFSI players to ask customers to confirm transactions that seem suspicious or fraudulent. Infobip’s solution portfolio also empowers our clients to optimize security with 3FA and AI by using their customers’ biometric data in real-time.

6. You have recently collaborated with leading telecom firms for silent mobile verification (SMV) service. What are the benefits of this service?

An integral part of Mobile Identity, Silent Mobile Verification (SMV) is a user-friendly authentication service that enables quick number verification whenever a user installs an app or logs into an account. Also known as HTTP Header Enrichment, SMV works by matching the user’s phone number (MSISDN) with the Mobile Network Operator data seamlessly without interrupting user experience. Besides being smoother, SMV condenses the entire verification process to less than 5 seconds while eliminating the need for end-users to put in additional effort except offering their consent. Its use-cases and benefits are many. For one, SMV service can be used beyond registration and checkout processes. It can, for instance, be used during the entire user journey for any mobile phone verification to provide an extra layer of security check for each end-user activity. SMV’s security advantage also protects user activities that require long sessions from threats such as account takeover.

7. Uncertainty induced by the pandemic continues to stay even in 2021. How have you planned your year keeping the challenges in mind?

The pandemic will go down in history as a period of great uncertainty.At the same time, it will also be remembered that when everything seemed uncertain, it was the digital connectivity that gave the world a semblance of constancy. Having said that, considering the present trends, it does not require a stretch of the imagination to say that the pandemic-induced digitization of the business landscape is here to stay. Market studies corroborate this phenomenon. McKinsey recently stated that digital transformation in organizations across the world has reached an inflection point – that is, reversing this transformation is neither possible nor practical. Against this backdrop, as a global telecommunication innovator, we are equipped to capitalize on this burgeoning market opportunity. By leveraging our stack of tech-based communication solutions, we aim to establish our stronghold in the global CCaas and CPaaS markets, empowering businesses across the world to deliver superior experiences across all stages of their customer’s journey.

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