Muthoot Pappachan Group, also known as Muthoot Blue, is an Indian conglomerate founded in 1887 by Ninan Mathai Muthoot. Headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, the group has a workforce of more than 26,000 employees across 4,200 branches in India. Muthoot Microfin Limited is a leading microfinance institution focused on providing microloans to women customers predominantly in rural regions of India. The company follows a joint liability group (JLG) model of microfinance. Clients are organized in groups of four to ten women from economically weaker sections of society, living in rural and semi-urban areas or urban slums. The microfinance operations of the company are designed to promote entrepreneurship among women and inclusive growth. The institution provides financial assistance through microloans such as income-generating loans to women engaged in small businesses.
To be the most successful microfinance company providing need-based financial services to the needy and the unserved, and to contribute to society and serve all stakeholders alike.
MediNews4U spoke to Sanjeev Shukla – Group Chief Marketing Officer – The Muthoot Pappachan Group
The lockdown is in Phase 3, how are you coping and boosting the morale of the team?
As Marketing, Corporate Communications & Internal Communications team, the Lockdown period has been particularly busy. We were for instance, first off the block, a week before the Lockdown was announced to work out & send out a communication to customers to adopt Digital/Online channels for ease, convenience & health. Several different messages were ideated upon and sent out to stay in touch with the customers. We also have had a frequent interface with the Media/Journalists. So we kept ourselves meaningfully busy.
As Muthoot, what have been your strategies to stay ahead of the curve?
As I mentioned, we were first off the block to sensitize the customers about the advantages of using Digital Channels for their transactions. We started with SMS to customers. Then audio & video messages from Vidya Balan. Then an ‘un-boxing’ video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eZ_AXVmXEs&t=), explaining in simple terms – given our profile of customers – as to how to use the Digital Channels; which was unique as it was scripted, recorded and acted-in, by our Marketing team members! We have kept in constant touch with our customers with information so very relevant for them and in formats that were simple for them. Enquire about their well-being. In my view, a brand is a journey from a trade-mark to love-mark…a brand must have an intimate relationship with its customers, in the most genuine sense. Hence, as one does with one’s near & dear ones, a brand must keep in touch, beyond business transactions, just to be emotionally & morally there for them. In fact, our teams in the field were mandated to call up each & every customer.
We also urged our customers to use our unique, Industry-first Gold Loan Service, 24×7 Express Gold Loan, Anytime, Anywhere Service (24×7 EGL). Simply put, a Gold Loan customer who has already registered for this Service, with head-room, can simply send an SMS with a mere feature phone and gets top-up loan as cash into the bank account, ready for withdrawal from the nearest ATM, anytime! Really a very simple, common man friendly since its available on a basic feature phone and pragmatic Service for a Lockdown kind of situation, to get monies for emergencies. 24×7 EGL indeed saw a major jump in usage during the lockdown. Interestingly, we used – now – one of the most used terms, Work From Home, and turned it around in the context of 24×7 EGL to run a digital campaign, titled, ‘Loan From Home’!
So, in essence, our strategy has been very simple. Knowing our ‘common-man’ kind of customers intimately; their needs, their struggles, and their limited means; developing products & solutions suitable for them; building a genuine relationship of love & trust, beyond business.
TV and OTT are seeing a huge spike in viewership, DD has relaunched its old classics, also new viewership pattern in the NEWS genre, are you investing in ad spends during this crisis?
Given our profile of customers and also our belief & values about genuine relationships we have always focused on being in ‘personal touch’. One to one interaction and Customer engagement. Like I shared, we have efficaciously leveraged digital, like unique videos, leveraging our brand ambassador, digital products, and so on. In fact, for the latest, #WomeBeTheChange, we made impactful use of Social Media, without any investment, with the active partnership of our enterprising women customers, of Vidya Balan and of kind-hearted Digital celebrities/influencers like honorable Mr. Shahsi Tharoor and youth-icon Prithvi Shaw.
COVID 19 has also seen anxiety issues, job losses, brands rethinking their ad spends, what will be your one positive Mantra to think positive in these trying times? The millennials have never seen anything like this. What is your advice to them?
I have penned a small four-liner for the young ones!
Past and the future generations won’t have a blank slate
Nor have the learning of such a never-before experience;
Come out shinning, as gold does out of the fire
Re-vitalize the world with your exuberance & excellence.
Muthoot has a large workforce, now with the lockdown how are they coping and how is the company helping them?
The Muthoot Blue Group has over 26,000 employees. We fondly call them, Muthootians. We have done whatever is required for a family member. Partial salary for March was given in the early 3rd week of the month itself so that families had funds to cope up with the restrictive and then, the Lockdown period. We launched a medical helpline & app, for the Muthootians.
We worked out a plan and also urged all our team members to enroll & go through structured learning, which would help them in keeping engaged and also acquire new skills or improve upon relevant knowledge. We ran family-selfie contests. Over & above, Our HR team sort of broke records, by personally reaching out to each & every employee over the phone, to give them emotional & moral support.