January 5, 2021

Innovation and digital transformation: Grupo Petersen's post-pandemic approach

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Since the start of the pandemic, companies had to up their innovation game to ensure continuity of operations.

Grupo Petersen, a group of Argentinian companies, rose to the challenge. With an innovation-based culture, they were ready for whatever the pandemic threw at them, which is why they were featured in Aivo Awards.

Martin Frascaroli, CEO at Aivo, recently spoke with Luciana Della Croce, Chief Digital Officer at Grupo Petersen. Together, they discussed digital transformation in the banking industry and their experience during the pandemic.

 Below are some highlights from their conversation.

A customer-worthy strategy

What do you think were the main changes consumers made in the last 3 years?

Lately, consumers have become much more demanding and sophisticated.

In general, they look for personalization and want to feel unique when engaging with a brand. In other words, they want a customer-centered approach, which means knowing the customer and having an easy and seamless relationship. 

And second, they expect an omnichannel experience. They want their interactions with brands to be coherent and consistent, regardless of which channel they pick.

The reality is that technology is accelerating more and more, especially after COVID-19. A lot of practices and habits that took hold will remain forever.

Online shopping has increased, and consumers expect to solve their problems in two or three clicks; they don’t want to interact with humans but choose simple processes, without having to call or go anywhere.

Being physically present is going to change to being virtual. They want to interact without leaving home. The future will have virtual branches where you can be helped and talk to an agent to resolve any issues a virtual assistant can't fix.

Do you think empathy, time and consistency are a differential value that customers appreciate?

Definitely. It's fundamental to have empathy, walk in the customer’s shoes and give them what they need at just the right time. The relationship with a brand goes by the experience and not just the product, and that’s where empathy comes into play.

The customer journey has both happy and unhappy moments, so we have to eliminate the pain points so that it's smooth sailing.

Empathy has to do with differentiating what we’re going to provide to the customer at every step, and having different tools for each particular situation. And that’s where technology comes into play, especially the data analysis capability.

How do you lead this transformation process? Many companies fail in the strategic aspect. Technology isn’t magic, it depends on strategy and culture. How do you plan and execute it?

Technology is a key enabler. Without it, the digital transformation process is impossible.

But it’s not the only thing, and it’s not a goal in itself. Transformation is much deeper. It clearly has to be accompanied by the organization and culture. As with every process, senior management has to make the decision to act consistently, and the same goes for the entire company.

At Grupo Petersen, we created an area with three pillars, all of which are supported by technology, culture, organization, talent and agile methodologies.

The first pillar is customer journey optimization to eliminate pain points, always keeping the customer at the center and making decisions based on data.

The second pillar is digital marketing. This deals with how we’re going to capture new customers and capitalize on the existing ones with scalable marketing tools.

And the third pillar is making decisions based on data. For this, we added big data and artificial intelligence tools to create predictive models with the insights we're gathering.

Related article: Grupo Petersen increased inquiries on their bot by 500% during the pandemic

Towards a post-pandemic experience

What was the quarantine's impact? We've noticed a lot of banks don’t want to pick up the phone after COVID. They went to the other extreme. In your opinion, is switching to the digital world essential?

Yes, it is. Regardless of the pandemic, our strategy was always to increase and accelerate digital channels, and the pandemic sped up these processes in banking and all industries.

Overall, in 4 months we did what we were expected to do in 2 years. We solved things we thought were impossible, and we did it in 15 days. We realized it wasn’t that hard. In reality it was there all along.

In three months we saw a 25% increase in home banking users, a growth that was expected to happen in 18 months. Plus, we doubled the number of transactions.

We also implemented a service channel on social media in less than a week, which grew 20 times from what we had before. So the social media channel was solidified and integrated with the call center, and now both channels work together.

With the chatbot, the amount of transactions grew sixfold; it went from 50K to 400K conversations a month. We worked on assisted navigation to guide customers towards resolving their problems, with a concrete approach towards action.

But extremes aren't good. Service has to be approached comprehensively. Branches won’t cease to exist and we’re not going to do everything just with the bot and social media. We’re figuring out how and where it’s best use each tool, depending on customers. Some like to go on social media or use the bot, but others don’t.

WhatsApp is one of the preferred channels for customers. What's the appeal? Is it the world’s new telephone?

I think it’s a channel many companies already have and it's being very quickly adopted for customer service.

We use WhatsApp with Aivo’s bot for everything related to the mobile app, since it’s a much more natural way to interact. A person can be transferred to a human agent from both WhatsApp and the chatbot when the bot can’t answer.

We’re also working on a new integration for the end of the year. We’re going to integrate WhatsApp to the platform in order to resolve much more sensitive operations. For that, customers will have to log in and authenticate with all the biometrics we’re adding. That’s the development we’re working on.

Which technology or strategy will be crucial for the bank in the upcoming years? Where do you think the industry is headed?

Everything related to AI will keep on increasing and accelerating. I think virtual voice assistants will be next. The banking industry hasn’t adopted them yet, but the virtual voice assistant is the future; it has empathy plus the ability to talk as humanly as possible.

But AI will also play a role in all of the bank’s processes. It will be added to everything: to the IoT (Internet of Things) and anything dealing with RPA, something many banks are doing, but there’s still lots be done. 

Blockchain will also increase in banking because it brings more security to transactions.

How do you measure the success of something that's working and makes customers happy?

A pretty basic metric we added is NPS. For several processes, especially new ones, we conduct surveys to measure how we’re doing. Many times, our perception is that we’re doing well but the truth comes out when we get the answers. We're also hearing what our customers have to say on social media. 

On the other hand, we're looking for the friction points on digital channels. Nowadays, the tools let you know if the customer journey is the right one. 

We also take a look at sales. When we launch a business campaign, we define the KPIs first and measure the whole conversion funnel. From there we see those optimization points on the journey so that business campaigns get their results.

Can you make the customer happy?

Yes, that’s what we're here for. That’s achieved when the company actually works on seeking profitability but also a reason for the customer to choose them. It’s about seeking empathy, walking in the customer’s shoes, understanding what they want and achieving loyalty. I think they can be happy with all of that.

What are your next steps after COVID-19?

Grupo Petersen's approach was to quickly adapt to the pandemic to guarantee service continuity, both during quarantine and after. If you are thinking about following their steps, don't hesitate to schedule a call with one of our representatives to know how our solutions can help you overcome your CX challenges.

Are you looking for new ways to improve your CX?

Our customer service solutions powered by conversational AI can help you deliver an efficient, 24/7 experience  to your customers. Get in touch with one of our specialists to further discuss how they can help your business.