Inspired by the ever-popular Indian Premier League (IPL), Federal Bank launched its own banking league called ‘Federal Premier League’ in a bid to keep employee morale high and promote the push towards digital banking.
“With this initiative, we promoted a lot of digital activities,” states Ajith Kumar KK, EVP & CHRO, Federal Bank. “We divided our nine zones across the country into eight teams, like in the IPL, giving them respective team names,” he explains.
It’s a six!
While IPL players scored runs on the cricket field, Federal Bank employees scored six runs for materialising a certain number of digital transactions by their customers. More than 1,200 branches of the Bank across the country took part in the FPL, which culminated in the final round followed by a virtual prize distribution ceremony. The ingenious banking premier league was Federal Bank’s answer to the problem of limited face-to-face contact in the time of a global pandemic.
Calling it a first-of-its-kind initiative, Kumar says, “Our intention was to help more people migrate to digital transactions so that footfall in the branches reduces to a great extent.”
The single initiative of FPL helped the bank achieve three significant goals.
The first was, of course, the inevitable scaling down of human contact to be in line with pandemic protocols. This offered the bank the much-needed boost to empower its customers to adopt digital banking. “We educate them to make the switch to digital and ensure that more and more people migrate so that our employees can then use that time for other productive activities.”
Second, the efforts lead to business growth by default. “The business grows naturally because more and more employees are contacting customers about digital banking, requesting for business and getting new accounts opened,” explains Kumar.
Third, Federal Bank believes its employees should be empowered with the same digital banking products as its customers. “We believe employees are the most valuable assets of the Bank so if one is offering a particular product to the customer, especially digital, one should offer the same to the employees too.”
Digital at the fore and human at the core
While Federal Bank’s digital switch had been going steady for the past 10 years, the pandemic provided opportunities to double the momentum. The Bank has enjoyed the first-mover advantage with most of its digital-banking products, but it is only now, Kumar says, that “more and more customers are coming to know about them. Even employees are now very thorough about the various digital products that the Bank offers.”
“We believe employees are the most valuable assets of the Bank so if one is offering a particular product to the customer, especially digital, one should offer the same to the employees too.”
It has been well known for far too long that several routine banking tasks can turn digital effortlessly, and yet e-banking has been slow to catch up in India. “Banking is one of the major sectors where digitalisation has played a huge role,” notes Kumar. “But even now, many customers in India prefer to walk into a branch, greet their familiar teller while carrying out their banking activities,” he adds.
Through its efforts, the Kochi-headquartered bank is working to find that sweet spot in digital banking where the good old human touch can still have a place. “Our theme is ‘Digital at the fore and human at the core’,” informs Kumar. “So while we give a lot of importance to digitalisation and have migrated substantially, we continue to ensure that Federal Bank’s service permeates through to the customer at every touchpoint.”
A similar digital migration in a world without the pandemic would have taken five years, feels Kumar. “In a normal year, the learning or the understanding of the digital products may not have happened at such a pace. I think that’s the biggest benefit we got from launching this initiative.”