Hi Rahul, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am currently leading Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited’s ambitious Digital Transformation journey to provide the nation with a unique digital experience in a greatly commoditized petroleum industry. His areas of expertise include driving highly successful business transformation initiatives at BPCL. He is responsible for designing and building cutting-edge technology to confect fragmented technology stacks of various business units into a unified architecture. This core unified architecture utilizes scalable and agile methodologies to offer a single view of the customer thereby translating into exceptional and consistent CX strategies as one BPCL.
What do you think the top priority should be for a company that wants to improve its customer experience?
Alignment of the core vision and strategies to a digital world for a superior and omnichannel CX.
Technology and Innovation are key pillars of our Brand Promise: Innovative, Caring, and Reliability. Therefore, all our activities are driven by involving technology to serve our customers at all touchpoints. We have been industry leaders in rolling out technology-driven customer initiatives, as well as internal processes. The First to implement ERP solutions in the oil industry, the first loyalty program in Indian furl retailing, Smart and PetroCard, are some of the many such initiatives.
In today’s world, positioning a brand as a technologically advanced company makes them occupy a unique place in the customers’ mind space. In recent days, we have embarked upon a digital strategy and digital roadmap christened as Project Anubhav, which is co-created along with over 500 employees across the organization, leading to the alignment of employees. Every Strategy has a change management plan, and we have a clear roadmap for implementation and adoption.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
In a digitally transformed business, it becomes easier to track feedback, workflow cadence, and improve overall efficiency with increased transparency within the system. This point in contention is very true, and we have already started reaping these benefits in many cases. For example, our connected operations platform IRIS has brought complete transparency across all our operations at our Petrol Pumps, Retail terminals, LPG bottling plants, RDI, and Logistics. We can now get the real-time status of all operations and helps us focus on key important items. With real-time granular data now available, we have been able to redefine the KPIs which are more relevant. These are KPIs which we were unable to track earlier due to various constraints. Implementation of Salesforce CRM service CRM will help all of us align centrally for all customer service needs. We will be able to solve for issues faster and bring more accountability across the spectrum. Urja, our chatbot, is also providing flexibility to all users (customers and internal) to solve for items at their fingertips, bringing in extreme flexibility. Our initiatives focus on enabling customers to self-serve, thereby empowering them to do business with BPCL at their convenience.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
Digital transformation requires a much broader adoption of digital technology and cultural change. Digital transformation is more about people than it is about digital technology. It requires fundamental mindset changes in the company that are customer-centric, backed by leadership, driven by radical challenges to corporate culture, and the leveraging of technologies that empower and enable employees.
Marketing has come a long way, yet the 4 Ps are most relevant even today. Are they sufficient though? Unlikely. As we move swiftly into Digital Marketing, Performance Marketing and such concepts the 4P’s seem in adequate to develop the best go to market strategies. So certainly, marketing is still playing catch-up to technology and its infinite potentials. At BPCL we are undergoing a sea of change in the fundamental way we do our business as an Oil Marketing company. Technology has enabled us to look at our own business processes differently and to relook at leveraging technology to stay ahead of the curve.
What are some of your tips for people who want to work in the CX sphere?
In a pure commodity business, the only way to create value is through offering world class services, but when even services get commoditized then offering an experience is the only competitive advantage. To offer cutting edge technology we need to keep customer at the center and utilize technology as the enabler. BPCL is in a highly commoditized and regulated industry. We’ve had great success through Pure For Sure, Loyalty Programs etc. Time has come that we look at us not from a company into oil and gas, rather as a company which is driven deeply by consumer experiences. Our digital transformation journey – Project Anubhav is helping us achieve Trust, Convenience and Personalization in ways which are very unique to the industry, and we hope to transform the industry in coming times as we have been doing since ages.
So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are new trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?
The cornerstone of BPCL’s Digital transformation strategy is customer-centricity. We have under our Digital Transformation undertaken only those initiatives which directly impact our customers and make their life easier in all the interaction they have with us. Our Senior Management has mandated that driving supreme and consistent customer experience should be the bedrock of our transformation. In many cases, the result is that this approach redefines the existing business processes and current ways of working. Many initiatives/ developments are bringing in a lot of automation and AI with a clear objective: to absolve our field teams of all repetitive transactional activities and focus solely on business development and efficient customer interactions. This approach has brought loads of new energy to our field teams, which we hope will become the preferred choice for all stakeholders and eventually positively impact our bottom line in the long term.
What is your favorite CX metric? Why?
Net Promoter Score (NPS) without a doubt. NPS provides a clear view of the current reality v/s the future long term growth outlook. Data enables us to take better marketing decisions. It’s easy to lose focus on the job at hand as a marketer and get overwhelmed by data. Just having data isn’t enough, We can have millions of data inputs per second but is that leading to business value. Just being enthusiastic about creating the best in class CX is not enough. One can get over enthusiastic and begin to measure hundreds of metrics; however, only NPS helps to get into a data-informed metric which gives insights on how one in headed to make smart decisions to steer the overall strategy for a successful future.