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To mitigate the effect of COVID-19, Rs 818.17 crore is allotted to states/union territories to promote online learning through digital initiatives and Rs 267.86 crore for online teacher training under Samagra Shiksha Scheme.Savvy marketers have recognized the power of digitization.

By Mayank Rausaria and Vadiraj Muthya

In the old normal, millennials were constantly online. In the new normal, so is everybody else. Lockdown and social distancing have accelerated migration to online channels, and work-from-home, virtual meetups, e-commerce, and digital choices are second nature now. Today, everybody engages, interacts, and purchases virtually, leaving digital impressions galore.

Every digital impression is a potential signal and provides richer contextual data for marketers than ever before. Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) must strike while the iron is hot. There are untapped digital engagement opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction, optimize marketing, improve ROI, and create human-centric experiences to engage customers.

Challenges for CMOs

Our ongoing Deloitte State of the Consumer Tracker tells us that the pandemic has disrupted consumer behaviour. This creates both challenges and opportunities for marketers.

  • Reduction in disposable income: 62% of consumers are delaying large purchases and 44% are concerned about upcoming payments.
  • Hesitation to engage in physical interactions: only 54% of consumers feel safe going to stores, and only 46% feel safe engaging in person-to-person service.
  • Increased customer anxiety: Almost one-third of consumers report being anxious since the pandemic.

Customer engagement must be re-imagined to overcome these challenges. Putting customer engagement at a company’s core positively impacts not only revenue but also brand loyalty. Digitization is indeed a powerful enabler.

Winning with digitized customer engagement

Today’s marketers must digitize to enhance customer satisfaction and streamline marketing. The digitization of customer engagement is a virtuous cycle. Brands that engage with customers online are privy to a wealth of data points. This contextual data helps personalize experiences for existing customers and entice newer customers.

Savvy marketers have recognized the power of digitization. They are re-orienting budgets to include the following transformative digital engagement solutions.

Recommendation algorithms and semantic searches use AI and ML to learn user behaviours and personalize recommendations, promotions, and content. These make customer interactions more efficient, relevant, and enjoyable. Banks can use AI for individualized spending limits and risk ratings.  

Customer data platforms (CDPs) gather data across social media, search engines, and websites to create unified customer profiles that aid with segmentation and personalization. A European bank re-engineered their digital client experience based on customer data analytics. 

Omni-channel marketing platforms facilitate lead capture across channels to help marketers run targeted campaigns, cross-sell, and up-sell. A UK bank adopted omni-channel service and customer experience to analyse spend behaviour. 

Chat bots, voice bots, and conversational AI provide 24/7 real-time query resolution and chat records for subsequent analysis. Leading Indian banks use conversational banking.

Banking-specific digital solutions include dynamic interest rates based on customer behaviour, contactless payments, digital identification and verification, analytics, and robo-advisors. There is a huge market for digital marketing, as online banking usage has risen since the pandemic. Further, the lower manpower requirements and shorter time-to-market for digital-only banks implies they can quickly and cheaply implement new initiatives and maximize ROI. 

Core dimensions of customer engagement: reimagine, optimize, and delight

To unlock benefits for marketers and customers, winning customer experience solutions must speak to three core dimensions: reimagine, optimize, and delight. 


  • Faster query resolution and record-keeping via chat bots
  • Contactless interactions through digital interfaces facilitate social distancing 


  • Lower costs of customer acquisition through digitized marketing initiatives
  • Higher ROI with unified customer data and analytics
  • Better decision-making based on data analytics


  • Hyper-personalized offerings enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) make it rewarding to share data
  • Faster, more seamless processes (particularly in digital lending and net banking) with a digital record for reference

How to get started

CMOs and CIOs can join hands to digitize customer engagement. Below are some guidelines:

  • Adopt a rapid value proposition approach to swiftly arrive at a minimum viable product (MVP) vetted by consumers, through stages of discovery and design, prototype, and growth and scaling. 
  • Harness the power of startups to enable the ecosystem internally and externally. Startups drive digitization through capabilities such as automated lead generation and capture, cashless payments, digital banking, and wearables. 
  • Build a customer engagement digitization framework tailored to your business that catalyse your customers’ data, preferences, and information (with their consent) to accurately create consumer profiles and personalize offerings effectively. 

Way forward

Digital interactions are not new, but COVID-19 has accelerated them like never before. Marketers must capitalize on this trend to bolster customer acquisition, retention, and revenue. CMOs have a unique opportunity today to bring together the right combination of design, strategy, insights, creativity, and cutting-edge technology to create human experiences that engage and inspire. With this approach, they can truly reimagine, optimize, and delight.

(Mayank Rausaria is a Partner,and Vadiraj Muthya is Director at Deloitte India. The views expressed by the authors are their own.)

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