Anand Bhatia: Small Gestures – Creating the right experience

Small Gestures – Creating the Right Experience

As a Consumer Behaviourist, I inhabit the world of ‘Small Data’. I often find myself asking the questions: why do consumers behave so? And the bigger triggers that impact consumer behaviour are the smaller gestures which the consumer has experienced. Even a simple ‘Thank You’ can work wonders!

What really matters is the smaller picture

In an environment where the consumer is increasingly pushed to a self-service model, or worse, segmented into a cohort where human interaction is denied; there is scope for adding a dash of warmth with small touches, even a smile can work wonders.

As consumers get exposed to newer products and services (e.g. when making payments using UPI was launched), we need to appreciate that things can get ‘threatening’ – where fear of things going wrong can set in. People are often appreciative of change but are resilient to adoption. That is where ‘hand-holding’ and walking a customer(sometimes literally) through the journey becomes critical.

Small Gestures - Warm Smile

The story of ‘Jaunpur Ka ATM’

In one of my travels, I met Yadavji; he calls himself ‘Jaunpur ka ATM’ (he is a Fino Payments Bank Merchant who offers basic banking services like ATM services, bill payments, enrolling for insurance, opening a bank account etc.). A large chunk of his customers have opened an account for the 1st time and they often get money remitted to them from their children in Mumbai and other metros.

Operating an ATM to most of Yadavji’s customers is a ‘threatening’ task. He makes the journey easier by welcoming them with a warm smile, asking about their well-being and is with them through the entire process of cash withdrawal. Consumers with accounts in any bank want to keep coming back to him just for this cheerful demeanour and ‘hand-holding’. In fact, some even label him as the ‘ATM which smiles!’

The story of Vermaji

Further north at a place called Saiyadraja (district Chandauli), Vermaji is creating a local base of customers who prefer using banking services at his outlet instead of the nearby bank branches. Why? His is the 1st shop in the market to open and the last to shut. The customer knows that services are ALWAYS available! This surety makes them prefer his outlet to bank branches. A small gesture drives preference. What this does is that it tells the consumer – I care for you!

I recall an instance from earlier in my career (I used to manage Auto Loans for CitiFinancial) where I waited in office till late in the night so that a DSA could submit his files for disbursal and meet his targets. He recalls this small gesture even today. It showed that I wanted him to succeed, I did!

Small Gestures

Of course, along with these smaller gestures, it is imperative that hygiene parameters are in place; else these gestures are just actions.

Over time I have noted 2 small gestures that really mean a lot to any consumer:

  1. Assurance – ‘Kaam Hojayega’. It kills the ambiguity associated with the end outcome and tremendously increases confidence in the brand. While studying the impacts that a brand like Amex has on consumer experience, I noted that the use of the word ‘certainly’ is far more effective than saying ‘sure’ or ‘ok’.
  2. Thanking the consumer – ‘thank you’ – 2 very powerful words. These make the consumer feel valued. At Fino Payments Bank we ran a small experiment: we simply thanked those consumers who had done a transaction using our Bpay app (mobile banking). To our surprise, we registered an 8% increase in the number of transactions!

What such small gestures do is that they ‘humanize’ an interaction because essentially people buy from people they know, like and trust. Filter everything you’re doing, saying or pitching through the customer’s point of view, and you’ll improve just about every metric you care about today.

Anand Bhatia- CMO, Fino Payments BankAnand Bhatia – CMO, Fino Payments Bank is in the business of seeing what others see, hearing what others hear but thinking through what others do not. This has been his guiding philosophy as he has built his professional and personal life. An IIM L alumnus with successful stints across BFSI, Retail and Education, he has been an entrepreneur with his venture Ormax Money being India’s 1st firm of consumer behaviourists focused on the BFSI space. This equips him to Provoke Change and Drive Growth as the CMO at Fino Payments Bank, as he goes about building a Phygital Bank focused on Emerging Bharat. They are building this bank – 1 consumer experience at a time. It helps in being a committed long-distance runner – as they then build to last.