CXO / IT Leadership , Digital Business

How HDFC Is Working Toward Complete Digital Mortgage

Abhijit Singh on How Customer Service Platform Reduced Turnaround Time
How HDFC Is Working Toward Complete Digital Mortgage
Abhijit Singh, chief technology and digital officer, HDFC Ltd.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, an increased number of banking customers engaged with an expanded array of digitally enabled services. Today, consumers are even more amenable to digital banking. Technologies, such as cloud and AI, are helping banks respond faster to customer queries and provide more innovative digital services.

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In an interview with ISMG, Abhijit Singh, chief technology and digital officer, HDFC Ltd., reveals how his bank has harnessed technologies, including cloud, AI and data analytics, to provide faster responses to loan applications and streamline internal processes.

Edited Excerpts Follow:

What are the big trends you are seeing in the banking industry? How are you pursuing those trends?

Broadly speaking, technology can be a big enabler, and it helps us improve productivity and customer experience. For instance, cloud helps us accelerate tasks and enables us to take external innovation and integrate it into our environment.

The other big trend is artificial intelligence and how it is helping human beings. Consumer tastes have also changed; people's habits have changed. Post-COVID, consumers are more amenable to the digital experience, versus a personalized human experience.

Based on your interactions with customers, what do you think are their expectations?

We are trying to improve the customer experience. We believe that if we make our customers happy, then business will automatically grow.

When they approach us for a loan, they expect a quick response for acceptance/refusal. So the underwriting has to happen very fast. Home loan depends on many other things such as the type of property and the title.

To address this requirement, we launched a service on WhatsApp, where you can get a response within two minutes. Of course, it is subject to conditions.

We also want to improve the experience for the customer who traditionally approached us for a loan several times and submitted many documents. There will be disbursements across the life cycle of the application.

What technologies are you using to improve your internal processes?

We have deployed a workflow that tells us how the customer loan application is progressing, and we can inform the customer accordingly. The underlying technologies are driving a mix of AI and machine learning, which also helps people make decisions. In some cases, it is also helping customers understand how much time it will take for the application.

Have you launched any new digital product in the last few months?

We have launched a new mobile app and a new customer portal that respond to feedback. We just launched a lead management system on Salesforce that tracks the entire customer experience from the first call/visit till the time the loan is disbursed. So it's easier for our staff to know what's happening, and we are able to adapt to their responses.

When did your journey with Salesforce begin, and how has it made a difference?

We wanted to take a fresh approach to zero-based thinking. We thought about reducing complexity and further improving the customer experience.

We began our journey with Salesforce 15 to 18 months ago and deployed Service Cloud and Sales Cloud. And we went live with customer service within four to five months. Then we completely transformed our lead management process because it was a large program.

The customer service platform on Salesforce helps us interact with our customers end to end. We also learn from our customer experiences.

What are the benefits you have derived after the Salesforce implementation?

One of the big benefits is that turnaround time has reduced substantially. Our AI models tell us which customers need to be serviced and how quickly. This enables us to close leads sooner. Using tools such as conversational AI, we can ask the customer if they are interested in a loan and then present the details. And this is instantaneous and totally automated. Once the customer responds, we can transfer that transaction to a human (relationship manager).

What are the key learnings that you derived from this project?

An important learning for us is that this is not about technology, but about change management. Everyone wants to know: what's in it for me? We studied our communication process and how we should communicate the objectives. Since our business model is changing, we are thinking about solving problems for tomorrow, when we have to face new competitors and not just fintech companies.

The second thing we learned is that these are new technologies and we have to leapfrog from on-premises to cloud. Interfaces change, for instance. We do a lot of in-person training programs to manage this change. The short videos on LinkedIn help people with the menu options. And there are other help videos.

What is your road map?

The road map for us is to work on reducing our turnaround time and to become more digital. Our Nirvana or North Star is a complete digital mortgage. As India is evolving and introducing new regulations, we remain optimistic about large-scale deployments of end-to-end digital mortgages.

About the Author

Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira

Sr. Director - Editorial, ISMG

Pereira has nearly three decades of journalism experience. He is the former editor of CHIP, InformationWeek and CISO MAG. He has also written for The Times of India and The Indian Express.

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