Winning against adversity

None of our resumes included experiences to deal with a situation like COVID. To call it a unique period, at least in our lifetimes, will be an understatement. So, as we fought our way through the pandemic, our success or failure depended solely on how well we adapted to the rapidly evolving situation. There wasn’t any play book to refer to. To overcome adversity, the earliest realization was the need to acknowledge adversity and accept that in the short to medium term, none of our lives, including those we serve, remained the same.

Successful organizations are defined by the level of empathy that they have with their audience and how well businesses understood the emotions, the everyday lives, the highs and lows of their user group. COVID brought a tectonic shift in everything. As people battled through bereavement, anxiety, job losses and unfathomable challenges of operating in a no-contact environment, businesses needed to quickly realign expectations and figure out what was relevant in today’s context.

COVID has accelerated digitization in all aspects of our lives, and the future is to ensure form factor agnostic digital payments, easily available at neighbourhood stores so that the digital divide between Bharat and India can be bridged once and for all: Jayatri Dasgupta

Organizational orientation in the world of crisis had to quickly shift from bottom lines to servicing, of ensuring every department came together to reimagine their services in the current context. Initiatives had to err on the side of humanity, often with no immediate returns, but with the ability to alleviate customer pain and create an emotional bond with the target audience. Audiences would always remember the brands that have provided for them during this time.

At PayNearby, this meant that we had to recenter ourselves and clearly define areas where we could lend support to our partners and customers. As migrants battled through mass exodus and people lost their source of income, our priority became to ensure government relief funds reached the hands of the beneficiary.

With large parts of Bharat having very limited access to formal financial systems, the only way to ensure last mile access of funds was through the agent banking network. We engaged in passionate advocacy efforts to ensure our last mile stores were allowed to operate seamlessly during COVID.

A lot of attention was directed to train our retail partners, our Corona warriors, on the best practices and how to keep themselves protected while serving the masses. Crisis brought out the best in the courageous, and there were thousands of stories from the field, of valour, of selfless service which became our guiding light during these extremely difficult times. These stories had to be recognized and socialized so that each of us could draw inspiration from them and the network operated at optimal efficiency.

From a marketing and communication perspective, this became our topmost responsibility. It was our duty to ensure network motivation and efficacy, so that every citizen of the country had the financial tools to help them tide through the pandemic. Just before lockdown, we had launched our brand campaign, “Zidd Aage Badhne Ki.” In the days of chaos that followed the announcement of lockdown, we repositioned our tonality to “Zidd Seva karne ki” and “Zidd Surakshit aage badhne ki”

And from there arose multiple initiatives, like enabling cash at doorstep, setting sanitized ATM facilities at societies, launching our national jobs registry for out-of-work blue collared workers, and ensuring neighbourhood stores across the country could service their customers digitally through the BuyNearby platform.

Crisis requires us to respond to change in real-time, to ensure that we are not tone deaf, to have a realistic evaluation of both the demand and supply side, and operate from a position of service and not opportunistic profit: Jayatri Dasgupta

The importance of the network and its role in creating income opportunities and accessible solutions for both the retailer and the local community soon became very popular and we onboarded more than 30,000 new retailers at the height of the pandemic.

Today PayNearby has more than 15,00,000 registered retailers, across 17,000+ PIN Codes servicing more than 15 crore customers monthly. COVID has accelerated digitization in all aspects of our lives, and the future is to ensure form factor agnostic digital payments, easily available at neighbourhood stores, so that the digital divide between Bharat and India can be bridged once and for all. Along with focusing on core banking solutions, like inculcating habits of savings and insurance among our masses, this will be a key focus area for the organization.

Crisis requires us to respond to change in real time, to ensure that we are not tone deaf, to have a realistic evaluation of both the demand and supply side and operate from a position of service and not opportunistic profit. Brands that manage to touch the core of their users during these difficult times are brands that will stay connected forever.

Jayatri Dasgupta, Chief Marketing Officer at PayNearby, has more than 19 years of experience in marketing, brand management, product development on web and mobile, digital initiatives, and P&L management in the eCommerce sector. She earned invaluable insights from her many years of work experience at Google and travel marketing companies like Goomo, Cox & Kings, and Cleartrip.

Her leadership has been recognized by several distinguished organisations, and she has been the recipient of several industry awards – including CMO Asia’s 100 most Influential National Leaders in Marketing in 2015 and ABP NEWS Women Super Achiever for Brand Excellence in November 2014.

  • Source – Media Brief

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