The last couple of years has been an epic test of character and determination for millions of people around the world. In the business context, CEOs have had to cope with extraordinary demands.

We have witnessed CEOs creating a narrative about their leadership agenda when they first move into the job. In the current scenario, the narratives are being updated to help employees, customers and stakeholders make sense of their actions.

For Sandip Raichura, CEO Retail Broking and Distribution at Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt. Ltd. (PL) the crisis has been an ultimate test of leadership, and he seems rather energized by these challenges and feels closer than ever with his team and customers.

New age discount brokers have disrupted the broking industry, and traditional brokers have been losing market share in the last few years. They are now fighting back with new plans and high tech. In this conversation with Ashwani Mishra, Executive Editor, DynamicCIO.com, Sandip shares his views on how the organization is adapting to change and gearing up for the challenge, the impact of regulations, and how it is centrally focused on improving customer experience. Excerpts:

Q. As CEO, you have a responsibility to hear and respond to the needs of your customers. They need to be at the heart of every decision you make today. Although many of these decisions may still largely be centered around business strategy, risk assessments and technology. How are you moving out of this crisis stronger by listening, analyzing, and making customer-centric decisions?

From a business standpoint, the last two years have been a blessing in disguise. One, the fall in the market made it attractive for investors.

The second important aspect is that this period made businesses more responsible. The regulator has taken a lot of actions which in turn has proven to be a boon for our broking business. It started with a KYC circular and the sand-boxing arrangement where one can carry out a lot of technology experimentation in-house. Then came the advisory regulations, and how margins are to be collected. All this has also benefitted the customers, not only through the front-end technology but across the 360-degree of the trade cycle.

Today, we are listening to our customers more intently and across a wider media. All our report services are on WhatsApp. Customers can interact with us on WhatsApp and can even escalate their issues/concerns. Any escalation that is not resolved within 24 hours is automatically brought to the notice of the C-suite, including me. We immediately step-in to resolve the issue and also find the process gaps and fix them.

For every resolution of service that we do, we collect a vote from the customers on how they would rate us. This is then mapped to the executive who took the call, the mode through which the complaint/query came in etc. All this also helps us to understand the areas of improvement. For CEOs, listening to the needs of the customers is the only reason for their success, and ultimately the success of the business.

It is extremely important to measure in real time, every interaction that the customer has with the company. This can generate insights that can be used for developing real-time interventions and then actions can be tied back to business outcomes.

Q. That is interesting. The spirit of regulation is to establish fairness and openness, which encourages better participation among innovators and users. In a way the regulatory frameworks have being drivers of tech adoption at PL.

Absolutely. Within this backdrop of substantial regulatory accommodation vis-à-vis the customer and the commoditization of technology has allowed us to swivel around and adopt a tech focused approach.

We now have the ability to understand what gaps we face, what the regulators allow and what customers demand. All these have been clearly identified.

We work with an ecosystem of technology providers. If I am partnering with tech providers, their technology has to elevate to the level where their solutions can talk to my legacy systems, adhere to the regulatory requirements etc.

The acquisition engine that we had earlier involved a lot of manual steps. The acquisition cycle would take around a day. We revisited our core technologies which involved the mobile app used by our customers and the back-office systems used to report our transactions.

The other part was putting in place tech-enabled self-service solutions for customers. All of these have been revamped over the last one year. Today, we are at par in terms of technology with the largest brokers in the country.

Q. In a world where one bad experience can turn a customer away from your brand forever there is no room for error when it comes to Customer experience (CX). How are you looking to enable CX outcomes for your customers?

We are moving from what we call as technology interventions towards “experience interventions.”

The days of mass personalization are over. CX has always been a battleground, but more so in today’s environment. We are devising a string of things that we want to accomplish using technology and create hyper-personalized experiences for our customers across the lifecycle.

Q. It is widely accepted now that the vast amounts of data that companies generate represents a tremendous repository of potential value. How are you looking to implement a resilient data and analytics strategy for an AI/ML-ready, customer-centric organization?

We have been using analytics for statistical regression, analysis and some bit of forecasting in our core broking operations for certain kind of visualization. We are now moving towards predictive analytics that can help us make improved business decisions.

We have also built sophisticated machine learning models that guides our fund management team. Some projects have already been rolled out, and they have proven that we can deliver a substantial alpha by maximizing returns per asset class. Moving ahead we will look to blend these two areas to deliver hyper-personalized experiences.

Q. Being a legacy player, is there a fear of losing out in the market to new age companies who have way higher customers on their platforms than the traditional ones?

I wouldn’t call it fear, but yes there is a large amount of competitiveness. As a broker, if we don’t execute with a clear strategy around the customer segments that we wish to target, we would then just be a commodity and will be swept away.

Customers today can exit from a brand in no time, and opt for another as they have multiple options.

There is a need for us to build teams that are able to understand the evolution of the market and keep us ahead. The availability of the right resources/skills is an area of grave concern.

By Ashwani Mishra

Ashwani Mishra is the Executive Editor at DynamicCIO.com and DynamicCISO.com. In his previous role he was the Editor at The Economic Times (ETCIO.com and ETCISO.in). He has around 17 years of experience in the IT Media space, and has also worked in senior editorial positions at The CTO Forum (now CIO & Leader), CXOtoday.com and UBM (Network Computing).

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