The new normals in a world where Covid-19 unfortunately is becoming a part of our life will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly the way we live our life.
In a world post-lockdown where the rules of the game are set to change, or rather have already changed, the way forward for the DTH players is also entering an unknown road.
Sugato Banerji, Corporate Head – Marketing, D2H, Dish TV India Limited spoke to us in our series Back to Business and shared their plans of coming back to normalcy after the crisis.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on your business? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
In this unprecedented continuing sporadically severe lockdown conditions all over the country, a majority of our customers are stuck at home. During this period, we have seen a surge of customers recharging and coming back onto our platforms as also a segment of customers who are downscaling their expenses in view of the prolonged uncertainty. This is because every household wants to be abreast of the latest news about the pandemic and lockdown as also conserve financial resources. We see this as a positive part. However as lockdown progressed and impacted wider and wider swathes of the country, we encountered challenges in running our call centres, ensuring recharge availability as retailers were closed for a long time, and on the ground in both, the availability and the ability of our technicians to visit homes for service calls.
We overcame these challenges have now been overcome through the use of technology and through the use of online channels. Few of our initiatives like ‘You Promise We Resume’, ‘Friends and Family plan’ were specially curated for D2H users. Schemes like ‘Pay later service’ were introduced for our DishTV customers, in order to provide seamless and uninterrupted TV viewing experience amid Covid-19 lockdown. We allowed retailers to extend credit of a few days to their customers from the app itself.
Besides, we introduced the D2H Positive and Dish Positive channels on our two platforms. The channel carries correct and accurate information about dealing with Covid-19 and special programmes for creating a sense of positivity and cheer in homes. That’s on the business side.
On the people side, all our employees are working productively from the safety of their homes. Some of our braveheart employees continue to man in a roster system, our broadcast and technology centres which are 24X7 operations and cannot be stopped even for a second where we have taken all possible precautions to ensure they are safe, secure and comfortable. Our local level direct service centres and distribution network are open with due precautions.
We have gainfully used the lockdown to ideate and put in place some blocks for building the new tomorrow. For example, we have stepped up the engagement with online partners, we have brought innovation in extending work from home to our partners so that business continuity doesn’t suffer tomorrow
What sort of innovation, new features and customer friendly initiatives are rolled out by D2H?
We have as a company; have introduced several new customer focused initiatives during this period. Apart from a brand-wise Covid-19 information channel mentioned above, we have introduced special offers on VAS as the new content on linear channels has stopped due to the lockdown. These VAS offers have seen a huge off take as they have new content for watching. In addition, we’ve stepped up our online recharge push with special On TV campaigns and offers from our partners, so that our customers can continue to watch our services without stirring from the safety of their homes for recharging.
We have observed a growing need among our customers to opt for self-service channels for their routine queries and issues. Keeping this trend in mind, we recently launched DIA – D2H Intelligent Assistant – a state of the art AI based intuitive chatbot that resolves a wide range of customer queries and issues, reaffirming the D2H promise of bringing the best of technology solutions for its customers.
To tackle the boredom faced due to the lockdown, we have held several customer engagement contests on TV and in social media. For example, we have just concluded a photography contest on lockdown as a theme. Earlier we have run quizzes and crossword puzzles based on Bollywood, Tambola contests and more. We know it is difficult for many people to recharge online, so we introduced a recharge for friends and family and get rewarded programme. In places where markets were under severe lockdown, we had a special facility for retailers to extend 5 days of credit to his customers to allow them to watch channels uninterrupted. All this was covered under an umbrella campaign ‘Stay Home Stay Entertained’.
There is an increasing move to watch OTT content. In order to cater to our customers who desire to watch OTT content, we have stepped up our upgrade programmes for our connected suite of products with special offers for our existing customers.
What is your view on consumer consumption/buying pattern amid Covid-19 breakout?
We believe that a big fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic will be the way people choose their entertainment. With difficulties in opting for pleasure shopping, watching movies in halls and going out, in general, being restricted, we expect more and more people to use home entertainment options. In addition, here our service becomes the most important, especially when TV channels start airing new shows. We also have witnessed a surge in online content consumption so we expect our suite of connected devices (Smrt and Magic series) to be extremely popular in the coming months as these devices give a seamless experience between linear channel content and OTT content. We also expect a move of consumers to contactless payment modes, hence we are beefing up our online recharge capacities.
How are you planning to resume business across cities, as there is some relaxation in lockdown?
Almost all our sales and service offices are working as also our service centres with adequate precautions and maintaining all the norms of safe working. Our broadcast and IT facilities never stopped during the lockdown.
We had faced challenges in our call centre operations but we have developed innovative IT solutions that allow our call centre partners to be productive even in lockdown. We have hurdles on the ground around the ability of the technicians to visit customer premises, as many societies are not allowing external service providers to enter. These keep occurring sporadically as containment zones keep shifting
What kept you positive during this period?
We have been focusing our energies in working on strengthening our processes, products and preparing ourselves for the new world of tomorrow. We have rolled out interesting online training and skill enhancement programmes for all our employees. To keep the teams engaged and positive we have held online town halls covering the entire company. This has kept the morale up.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction for your category?
We see the online acquisition and online recharge as the future. We see this opportunity to increase the adoption of the self-help/do it yourself and contactless experience for our consumers. We also see new workflows emerging in our business as an outcome of the pandemic. We also see a huge potential for our connected suite of products as a seamless method to switch between live TV channels and OTT content with a single remote and device.