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NURTURING CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS Companies of the Kotak Mahindra Group did not have a single view of their customer. A Siebel CRM implementation changed the picture.

PLUS INTERVIEW Johny Paramian, CIO, GMR has positioned IT as an internal consultant to its own organization making his department more responsive to business needs


NURTURING CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS Companies of the Kotak Mahindra Group did not have a single view of their customer. A Siebel CRM implementation changed the picture.

Company Kotak Mahindra Group Industry Banking & Finance Offering Banking, Brokerage & Insurance


irds of the same feather flock together, so the saying goes. But the different companies of Kotak Mahindra group, despite having a common goal of servicing the customer, weren’t speaking the same language. When a customer called in to two different companies of the group or even two different departments within the same company, the experience he or she got was dissimilar,” said Aruna Rao, Group CTO, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Group Companies. That was three years ago. Senior management knew that the variance in customer experience wasn’t helping any of the group companies – viz. Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB), Kotak Mahindra Prime (KMP), Kotak Securities, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Company (KLI) and Kotak Mahindra Capital Company (KMCC). And what if one of the group company employees knew about the interest of a customer in a specific product that the employee himself wasn’t servicing –


say a sales executive selling a housing loan learning about a customer’s interest in life insurance? There was no guarantee the information would be communicated to the appropriate sales executive. Though no one was putting a figure to it, lost sales opportunities were costing the companies. Rao and the business heads of individual companies got together to rally behind a company-wide CRM implementation. “It didn’t make sense to have individual CRM implementations when we wanted a single view of the customer,” Rao said. That was easier said than done. The line of business varied across the group companies, as did the priorities of the business heads. Taking the time to properly map the group companies’ varied requirements was important – a situation senior management was mentally prepared for.

It was as if earlier our sales people used a machine gun to fire blindly, now they use the sniper approach to target potential customers.” KVS MANIAN, Head, Retail Banking, Kotak Mahindra.

ENTER THE CHAMPIONS The first thing to do, Rao notes, was to standardize the customer-facing processes across the group companies. Representatives of the various business units met to have a common agreement on how to proceed. “With the support of the business heads up-front, the deployment plans got a boost,” Rao said. Broad directions were chalked out, but the task of sketching out the details of the changes required was going to require multiple iterations of drafting and testing plans. Only an executive who understood the current systems fully would do. That was the prime considerations that went into selecting a ‘business champion’– an officer responsible for drawing out the detailed process change needs – from each of the business unit. “The business champions had hands-on knowledge about the business and so they were able to provide a description of how the business really worked,” Rao said. A standardized process was to enable the organization to provide consistent service irrespective of which business the customer was dealing with. It was to create an infrastructure that would let the company standardize its sales and service divisions. TCS was roped in as the implementation partner. The consultancy company provided a proposal to deploy Siebel across the group companies and advised a phased implementation approach for executing the same. TCS believed that a phased approach would suit the organization since the approach was less risky as it offered a built in mechanism (phase-based milestones) for measuring the overall project progress.

The phase-based milestones approach went well with Rao. “The IT department must demonstrate the value of projects at regular intervals to business users if the department is to earn a healthy respect,” she said. Rao evaluated the possible risk scenarios and put in measures to mitigate the risks. “When systems serve multiple processes, even a slow-down in the system can cripple a company’s ability to respond to customer needs – a situation that we would not like ourselves to be in, as it was for the very reason of speeding up the response that we had started off with the implementation,” she said. Hence, rigorous performance tests to check if the system could handle the load were carried out.

Rao evaluated possible implementation risks and put in measures to mitigate them.


The broad vision for the working group on the CRM implementation was to align with the Kotak Group’s message of positioning its constituent companies as a one-stop-shop for all the financial services and investment related needs of customers. The solution needed to meet the high level objectives of having the ability to uniquely identify common customers of the various group companies and successfully using this information to communicate the value proposition of the various financial services offerings of the individual group companies to them. At the same time, it was imperative to provide a consistent user experience to customers across all business entities and communication channels. Given the magnitude of the objectives, i.e. integrated operational CRM including sales, services and marketing across all the business units, the end


IT must demonstrate the value of projects regularly to business users if the department is to earn a healthy respect.” ARUNA RAO, Group CTO, Kotak Mahindra Group .

state vision was divided into shorter phases, each of which independently delivered business value. Before embarking on the change, the “as is” CRM processes were documented and the capabilities on 16 CRM capability parameters of each business group were determined. This was followed by defining the desired capability levels in each area and hence the “to be” CRM processes need. The “to be” processes in different business groups were compared and standardized in the area of service, sales and marketing. These standardized processes were then defined as a CRM Business Requirements Document (BRD) across the group. This Business Requirement then was given a technical platform to be implemented on.

THE CARROT AND THE REASON When the group first started with the deployment, resistance to change, at least from some quarters, was only to be expected. The new system required the sales force to make targeted marketing calls and campaigns and enter the outcome of every interaction in the system. The different business units had CRM-like processes of varied sophistication levels: some had rudimentary processes, others had advanced ones, which, however, had interfaces that were in much variation with the ones at Siebel. Still others didn’t have any system. “We needed to encourage the sales force who had never used a system to record their sales calls to now start doing so,” Rao said. In such cases, Rao recaps, it was not just the question of a system change, but about a change in the attitude. “In the case of a section of the sales

people, we had to prepare them to use it,” Rao said. “Some sales staff are not naturally inclined to fill in reports, they just don’t have the temperament to do so.” Again, the business champions came to the rescue, helping create an effective training program which would not only get the sales force up to speed with the new system, but get them enthused about it too. This included demonstrating to the sales people how they could track their activities, while managers could get an insight into what products were selling better. The notion that often a successful deployment largely hinges on effective people management was vindicated through other examples. Some of the sales staff who were used to following a certain system had to give it up and now acclimatize themselves to the new one. Rao notes that initially they resented this as it seemed to take them more time to use the new system, but when they were apprised that the new system would help them track customer queries and respond to the queries in a much more productive manner, their attitude changed.

THE SNIPER APPROACH The CRM implementation has seen all-round gains. KVS Manian, who is the Head of Retail Banking at Kotak Mahindra, says that they are now better able to track fulfillment of customer requests.

KOTAK GROUP’S CUSTOMER-FACING GOALS FOR THE CRM APPLICATION: Ability to identify the customer uniquely and validate information required as per “Know Your Customer” regulations Get a unique tracking no. for all service requests raised with Kotak Tracking of customer interaction history Customer interaction through multiple channels, including email and SMS, ensuring channel independence for enquiry


REAPING THE GAINS For customers:

For staffers:

Reduced TAT for service delivery All cross sell product availability from any Kotak group entity Consistent service across all Kotak group companies

Single view of all customers’ interactions within each group company Single system for tracking service related interactions like queries, complaints, fulfillment requests, and information requests etc. Ability to track lead against a customer / prospect within each group company, including automatic transition of sales stage and auto closure of opportunities Ability to create customer / prospect list for targeted campaigns and end to end execution of the campaign list till its logical closure Ability to schedule activity for self and team

The system helps them to accurately track various customer complaints and their current status. That is one of the reasons the turnaround time for resolving a customer complaint is much better now. In reality, though, customer complaint resolution is hardly the system’s raison d’ etre; customer engagement for effective marketing probably is. Here, again, the application seems to have found its mark. While aggressive marketing has been the rule ever since the group companies came into existence, Manian has found that the efficiency of the campaigns has increased dramatically after the CRM implementation. Having a complete customer view and the right analytic to support their marketing pitch have helped the engagements with the customer become much more profitable. “The application has significant enhanced our ability to cross-sell,” says Manian. “It was as if earlier our sales people used a machine gun to fire blindly, now they use the sniper approach to target potential customers.” While it’s difficult to quantify the benefits of a CRM implementation for a spurt in sale can never exactly be ascertained, Manian makes use of an interesting model to justify the deployment. He notes that the cost of implementation including licensing costs and consultancy charges was going to be around Rs 22,000 – 23,000 per employee, which was less than 5% of the annual expenditure of hiring an employee of the relevant grade. “Even if there was going to be a 10% increase in productivity, it was quite a boost,” he said.

Further proof of the CRM application can be gleaned from Kotak Mahindra Bank’s annual report for the previous year (year ended 31st March 2010). The report says that, “(the) bank launched credit card business and reached the milestone of 1 lakh cards in the first year of operations. The card design and product benefits have received overwhelming response from customers.” Manian says that the CRM greatly enhanced the bank’s ability to cross-sell and the credit card success story is a validation of the same. Rao concurs with Manian on the credit card story. With the CRM in place, Kotak stole a march over some of its competitors on two fronts – on the one hand, resolution of customer calls was very rapid and on the other, with the business drivers having clear visibility on the campaigning efforts and the success rate on a regular basis, they could channel their efforts more productively. “I remember the business head walking into his office in the morning. On his table would be a report showing the turnaround time for every single customer query and request that came to the bank,” Rao said. With the basic CRM modules in place, the Kotak group is now looking at innovating on top of the basic layer to add value to business. Integrating the system with the employees’ mobile phones is on her mind. So is the social CRM concept. “Three years ago, when we started off, there was no concept like social CRM, but now it is taking a lead in marketing innovation,” she said. “The CRM journey is never complete, one has to be constantly abreast of the developments.”


A Sound IT Roadmap helps

GMR PROVISION NEW SERVICES By positioning IT as an internal consultant to its own organisation,

Johny Paramian,

Group CIO, GMR has made his team more responsive to business needs.



What are the chief IT challenges of a rapidly growing group such as GMR and how do you tackle them? Rapid growth is something we envisaged three years ago. Based on the road map that was drawn at a board meeting at that time, we planned for adequate infrastructure keeping in mind the potential growth. So now, as and when we add projects, our infrastructure is well geared to cater to them since the basic building blocks are in place. Capacity planning has thus been an important part of our strategy. We kept this aggressive growth in mind and invested up-front – in SAP, Microsoft stacks, an off-site DR site, a datacenter, and a hybrid service model for support. Our hybrid service model involves inhouse support staff as well as a service contract. So if there are any issues with one service channel – for instance, a shortage of manpower in our IT support staff or a delay in service from the service provider end – we take support from the other. This way we insulate ourselves against service related downtimes. GMR caters to diverse verticals such as energy, airports, highways, SEZs and urban infrastructure. What does this diversity mean to the IT department? We look at IT in two parts – enterprise IT and domain IT. Enterprise IT is the base IT infrastructure that is common across companies while domain IT is anything that is specific to that business. For instance, airports will have their own IT stack while highways will have a toll management system. With this segregation, we are able to better address IT demands. We also have a knowledge management portal. With a strong enterprise IT foundation, we are now going to add applications. How do you make IT responsive to business challenges? We have an annual IT plan presented to the board where IT’s role in the company’s strategic planning is discussed threadbare. As such, IT becomes part of business. Specific workshops once every quarter with the business heads help us to evaluate our progress. The closely knit interaction between IT and business ensures that project changes are communicated to IT as soon as they surface. By this manner, we are always in sync with the business. Also, IT’s contribution is determined from the perspective of business outcome, not just project execution. How do you address the problems that come with legacy infrastructure? At a board meeting three years ago, keeping the growth plans for the company in mind, it was

decided to do away with all legacy systems. That was the time we migrated to SAP. All existing legacy applications were discarded. You have been a principal consultant with PWC earlier. How has that role helped you in your current role as a technology decision maker? My work as a consultant has shaped at least two aspects of my working style. One, I focus more on business outcome and the other, we position ourselves as an IT internal consultant. It’s true that every IT solution is very often seen as a cost to the company. However, if you look at it from a “business outcome” perspective, then it has a different connotation. Secondly, by positioning our own IT services as an internal consultant, we look at the whole job from a true client perspective. We had to put SLAs in place and also pay attention to successfully market our expertise so as to drive the consumption of IT. What’s a nagging worry on the IT deployment scenario that you find many CIOs discussing? Today mobile devices have proliferated but their impact in terms of security has not been properly assessed. We need to ask ourselves whether we are ready in terms of having an effective company policy to counter the proliferation of mobile devices. We will not be able to keep employees from using all kinds of mobiles within the enterprise space, so the question is how do we safeguard enterprise data. What have been some of your recent projects? How have these benefited your organization? And looking forward, what are some of the projects that you are planning? IT assets management takes almost 60-70% of IT costs. To reduce this, we have implemented asset optimization and consolidation. We have also done virtualization of some of our key infrastructure. Going forward, we are working on our ‘journey to cloud’ strategy.

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Established in 1904, City Union Bank is one of the traditional banks in South India, with a customer base of 1 million. The bank embarked on a technology modernization program to position itself for the future-be it to facilitate business expansion, or tap into emerging market opportunities and the needs of the younger generation in the country. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) deployed TCS B NCS Universal Banking at City Union, enabling the bank to deliver a host of convenienceenriched services to its customers. As one of the world’s fastest growing technology and business solutions providers, TCS used its extensive knowledge of the banking domain and adapted its internationals best practices to centralize key back-office operations and processing. Increasing the bank’s customer base by 100% and profits by 300%. And, of course, enabling City Union Bank to experience certainty.

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