Be anywhere, do anything – that is what technology has enabled us to do over the last few decades. It is established beyond contention that tech is reshaping our lives, businesses, and, in short, our very existence. In fact, it is ushering in change and solving problems faster than it could have been done otherwise. Of course, it has also brought in some challenges as byproducts but it is a story for another day.
But what is tech if it is not for harnessing better business and providing value addition to customers among other things? Pandemic or no pandemic, if there is one thing that all organizations would emphatically agree on it is that tech is an enabler of businesses and empowers them in more ways than one. Who would have imagined 10 years ago that those seeking financial services, for example, could sit in the comfort of their homes and finish the entire process with zero paperwork, without running around, and with as minimum human interaction as possible just by a few taps and swipes on their smartphone?
Among the many things technology has redefined, the way businesses interact with their customers figures at the top. Customer interaction is perhaps one of the most important parts, if not most, of running a business as that is what charts the company’s course.
Now, how to effectively use tech to not just engage with more customers but to make them a part of the business journey?
Leverage data to derive maximum value
Every day massive amounts of data are generated and consumed. Various research agencies indicate that in the next three years the volume of data created, captured, and consumed worldwide may almost grow by 2X to 180-200 Zettabytes from about 90-100 Zettabytes now. So, well, data is there, but how it is read is what makes the difference.
While all businesses are using data for insights, what would set them apart in terms of ensuring more customers in through their door is how they are deriving value out of the abundance of data available and how much. So, [valuable] data discovery is the critical part here as it is what gives the business and the product the direction they should move in. The more signals one could derive, the better. For instance, we at ZestMoney use CIBIL score (as one of the data sources) and then compute the Zest score which gives us more predictability about a customer. Hence, experimenting to find as many usable signals as possible is what makes the difference. Therefore, investing – financially and otherwise – in this experimentation is essential. That said, one should also understand when the experimentation should be stopped for changing the strategy when it isn’t yielding any value.
There could not have been a more opportune time for organizations to leverage data tech. Data, if used correctly, could give deep insights into customer behavior and preferences, thereby enabling businesses to build their product in line with expectations. The more consumer-centric the products are, the more customer base the business can potentially tap.
Drive innovation through UI/UX
Invest in building a robust and easily navigable UI and UX. Customers these days prefer shorter and quicker flow. This is where a risk-based approach forms the key as it would help determine what and how the journey should be for a particular customer. Drive innovation through UI and UX, which could potentially incentivize customers.
Think about the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which disrupted the payments ecosystem, for example. India now leads the world in real-time payments, thanks to UPI for showing that products with simple UI and UX will always win customers. It has laid powerful payment rails for the entire Indian digital ecosystem, which witnessed a steep learning curve, and so have the people, with the introduction of UPI, which defined a new pattern for FinTechs like us to move in the direction of credit delivery the UPI-way. It is a game-changer for the FinTech ecosystem particularly.
Digital trust is the secret sauce
Can innovation and risk management/privacy co-exist? Yes, they can, and companies like us have drawn the curtains on the long-debated topic by walking the talk. With the exponential availability of data and increasing consumption of it by businesses, there is a digital trust deficit among the consumers as they have little trust in how responsibly and transparently companies utilize, if not exploit, their privacy. What is compounding this is the lack of assurances from the businesses in addition to the poor cybersecurity initiatives alongside ethical lapses. In short, the fact that users have little control over how their data could be used by businesses is the cause of digital mistrust.
For instance, users often encounter businesses that don’t allow customers to use products or services until they accept the terms and conditions of data utilization and privacy. This borderlines digital feudalism even if the users accept the terms intentionally or unintentionally. At ZestMoney, we don’t read or store the personal information of our customers. Neither do we share any personal information. Customer privacy and security are non-negotiable for us and this transparency is what helped us create a customer base for ourselves.
Therefore, embedding digital trust is the secret sauce to becoming a successful consumer-centric business.
Of course, leveraging tech alone may not be a magic pill for all business ills. But, if harnessed in the right way, it could help businesses in taking forward their vision and mission to a larger customer base. It could also help businesses stand on solid ground, especially when they may have to make hard decisions.
Note: Authored by Ashish Anantharam, CTO & Co-Founder, ZestMoney. The article was first published on Indian Express Group’s ExpressComputer.in on June 13, 2022.