ICICI HFC and DWAO deliver new digital services to customers during COVID-19

When ICICI Home Finance Company (ICICI HFC) set out to relaunch its website in early 2020, the timing could not have been more fortuitous.

ICICI HFC specializes in providing loans to people in India who’s work—such as being a shop owner—can make it difficult for them to get to banks to underwrite their loan application. These individuals typically couldn’t apply online and instead had to come into branches as part of the loan process.

ICICI HFC’s primary goals for the new website were two-fold: reach more customers online in their regional languages within India’s smaller cities, and help residents in India’s top seven cities easily find their ideal home by improving the ability to search for properties in the affordable housing market.

Vital to the new website was providing enhanced digital experiences that encouraged customers to engage online, so ICICI HFC turned to DWAO, an agency specialized in end-to-end implementation of Adobe applications. In a matter of weeks, DWAO used Adobe Experience Manager to build a new website – one of the first in the industry to be delivered in six localized languages, with plans to support even more languages in the future.

In addition, the website was developed to support a thriving marketplace for housing, where customers in the top seven cities could access timely and accurate information as they searched for a home. Using Adobe Experience Manager, DWAO built an easy-to-use portal for builders and real estate agents across India to directly enter all of their project details into a searchable database, and easily update it as pricing or availability information changed.

“Our customers are now assured that they’re seeing the most up-to-date information, which increases their trust and their readiness to transact with us online,” says Sandeep Gambhir, head of marketing and digital at ICICI HFC.

Branches close – but opportunities open

No sooner than the new website launched, COVID-19 took hold in India. A nationwide lockdown was issued in March 2020, and all of the ICICI HFC branches were forced to close. At the same time, the Reserve Bank of India issued a moratorium (also known as “morat”) that allowed loan borrowers to apply for a three-month hiatus from paying loan installments.

“We had to shift quickly,” says Gambhir. “If we had not launched the website in March, we would have struggled to accept morat applications. All of our call centers and branches were closed, so digital became the only channel for our customers to connect with us.”

As customer behavior started to move online – coupled with the housing market volatility due to COVID-19 – ICICI HFC looked for other opportunities to provide customers with services to help them through the pandemic.

“Fixed deposits became a product that we immediately took online, since it provides customers with a safe way of investing their money with a high interest rate,” says Gambhir. Working with DWAO, the company accelerated its timeline for fixed deposits and deployed the product on the website. Once a primarily physical process, customers are now able to apply and be approved for a fixed deposit entirely online. Today, it’s the company’s top-performing product on the website, and the company is aiming to eliminate paper application forms by year end.

In addition, as home applications continued to decline, it was evident that cash liquidity was a key consideration for ICICI HFC customers. DWAO helped the company quickly launch its gold loan product online so that customers could better manage short-term cash needs. “By moving more services online, we were able to let our customers obtain a loan for their gold much faster and more easily,” says Gambhir.

Using data to develop better experiences

As customers interact with ICICI HFC more online, DWAO is looking at how they engage, and where digital experiences can be improved. “Using Adobe Analytics, we’ve gained visibility into how products are performing and can make recommendations based on data,” says Ketav Sharma, CEO of DWAO. “For example, we found that the ICICI HFC Home Search product was not getting as much traction as we anticipated because it was embedded in another product’s dropdown menu. By moving the Home Search product to the top navigation line on the website, the product saw an immediate increase in website traffic.”

Looking ahead, DWAO plans to leverage Adobe Target to help ICICI HFC improve the customer journey through personalized experiences that help more people find their ideal home. Adds Gambhir, “Adobe has empowered us to not only create and measure new experiences for customers online, but also gain deep insights to quickly make meaningful changes. The result is great digital experiences that bring valuable services to our customers even in the midst of a pandemic.”

Read more about ICICI HFC’s digital transformation here.