With 80% of their to­tal trans­ac­tions across the coun­try tak­ing place on­line, Ravi San­thanam the newly ap­pointed Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer of HDFC Bank, elab­o­rates on why it makes per­fect sense to launch #StartDo­ing, a dig­i­tal-only cam­paign for the brand

Q] You have re­cently moved from Tele­com (Voda­fone) to Bank­ing. How dif­fer­ent are the chal­lenges you face at HDFC?

The first chal­lenge is the num­ber of prod­ucts we have at HDFC. Tele­com is voice, data and a lit­tle bit of val­ueadded ser­vices, here and there. And the value-added ser­vices nec­es­sar­ily are not the ones which you ac­tu­ally force com­mu­ni­ca­tion for or at­tempt to sell. But, when it comes to bank­ing, the num­ber of prod­ucts and the life­cy­cle in which you can en­gage with the cus­tomer is fairly large. So you might be start­ing with a sim­ple sav­ings ac­count, then when you start work­ing we give you a credit card, post that a two-wheeler loan, a four wheeler loan and so on.

Q] What was the first thing on your agenda when you took over as the CMO of HDFC?

The first thing for me was to un­der­stand the cus­tomer from a bank­ing per­spec­tive. Dif­fer­ent cus­tomers have dif­fer­ent needs and ex­pec­ta­tions from the bank. For ex­am­ple, the mil­len­ni­als ex­pect ev­ery­thing to be done on their phone and not at the branch. Most peo­ple don’t even go to the branches any­more. So, we need to be sure that our dig­i­tal in­vest­ments are in line with the as­pi­ra­tions of the cus­tomers. In fact, some of the old cus­tomers who hadn’t seen a mo­bile till they started their ca­reers have also moved to­wards in­ter­net or mo­bile bank­ing. So, the en­gage­ment, aware­ness and ful­fill­ment have to start and end on Dig­i­tal. Also, as soon as one prod­uct life­cy­cle is over, the next one starts, so the en­gage­ment is con­tin­u­ous. Q] Tell us a lit­tle about the new cam­paign #StartDo­ing which fo­cuses on credit cards and loan op­tions?

When­ever I asked cus­tomers in the branches in my ini­tial tour­ing round as to how they heard of HDFC Bank, they al­ways said it was through an ex­ist­ing cus­tomer’s ref­er­ence. What I gath­ered from that is that if you take care of the needs of your ex­ist­ing cus­tomers, then you are bound to get some more cus­tomers in your fold through wordof-mouth. Ear­lier, there was a time when I would wait for a Times of In­dia re­view to know if a movie is worth watch­ing. To­day all I need to do is go to my Face­book time­line and see if any of my friends whose taste matches with mine has re­ferred, say, Jagga Ja­soos. That’s the way the whole world is mov­ing, even the fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and sys­tems. So, this time we thought why not use the new way to en­gage with our au­di­ence, con­sid­er­ing that most peo­ple are digitally savvy to­day. Q] There is em­pha­sis on be­ing the num­ber 1 Bank in the ad un­like the pre­vi­ous HDFC com­mer­cials, why?

There are two things

I’d like to men­tion here. We have a lead­er­ship po­si­tion in most of the prod­uct cat­e­gories we op­er­ate in.

But when we went and met cus­tomers, we re­al­ized that while the en­tire mar­ket knows about it, the per­son on the street is not nec­es­sar­ily aware. Se­condly, most con­sumers we asked said that when­ever they need to take a call on fi­nan­cial

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