Communication from the heart will make a difference in digital world: Piyali Reddy

Reddy, Head - Corporate Communications at Axis Bank, talks on how the bank is dealing with the COVID crisis, leveraging digital, importance of corporate communication teams and more

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Jun 8, 2020 3:09 PM
Piyali Reddy

Living up to their 'Dil se Open' philosophy, Axis Bank has been upscaling its digital strategy even during the lockdown phase. Being an essential service, the corporate communications team headed by Piyali Reddy has been vigilant to keep the banking services going and safeguard the stakes of both internal and external stakeholders.
Piyali Reddy, Head - Corporate Communications at Axis Bank, has been spearheading several campaigns for the bank and has been associated with the banking industry for quite sometime now. With an overall experience of 18 years spanning different industries, Reddy is a trusted name in the banking communication diaspora.
e4m interacted with Piyali Reddy on how Axis Bank is dealing with the crisis, leveraging digital, importance of corporate communication teams and more.

Edited Excerpts:-

Being an essential service, how is Axis Bank dealing with the corona crisis? What are your views of the current scenario?
The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used often to describe the current situation and one cannot argue with it. No event in recent human history has affected lives across the globe to the extent that the prevailing COVID-19 situation has. 
This situation has brought about several changes, and the banking industry has not been immune to them. The current situation has meant that we at Axis Bank live our philosophy of ‘Dil Se Open’ even more ardently. Compassion and empathy have been the traits that are central to our ethos and during these times we have become even more cognizant of them. Be it providing all employees with the necessities required to work from home, actively helping our communities or driving communications with various stakeholders, the bank has been at the forefront of the situation. 
It's worth mentioning here that Axis Bank had activated its Central Emergency Response Team (CERT) more than a month before the lockdown. Therefore, the bank was well-prepared to manage the crisis. Our management has been constantly in touch with both our customers and employees, to reiterate the bank’s unwavering support and commitment towards them.
We are part of people’s ‘essential services’ and hence our branches and operations were functional even during the lockdown, in-line with the government’s stated laws. As the country’s third-largest private bank with branches across India, we ensured that our customers and employees get the maximum support possible, even during these critical times.
 Situations like these are challenging and tend to test an organisation’s character. Axis Bank is determined to stand united with the nation during this hour of crisis and through its various initiatives the bank has shown that it really cares.
 
What is the kind of emphasis being given to digital? What are the digital strategies or campaigns being run during these times?
Axis Bank’s belief in the power of its Digital offerings has always been absolute, even as social distancing norms have provided a very different perspective to banking as well as communication. 
The bank’s digital channels - our award-winning mobile app, internet banking portal, Axis Pay (our UPI app), chatbot ‘Axis Aha!’, corporate internet banking and our website have helped customers access more than 250 products and banking services digitally, with a few clicks.
Here, I would like to highlight that all our bank-wide initiatives would not have been possible without the support from our employees. A campaign was launched to express gratitude to all bank employees, who have gone beyond the call of duty in serving the nation and its citizens during this phase. We have also initiated campaigns on social media, which emphasise on the safety measures to be followed while using digital banking channels. 
Lastly, we are constantly endeavouring to educate our customers on the convenience and benefits of digital banking, as there could be many of them who are new to the process and need some encouragement to start using it regularly. 
 
How corporate communication manages the internal and external communications and stakeholders?
As mentioned before, the situation has been unprecedented and has come with its own set of challenges.
When there are barriers in physical meetings or face-to-face interactions, the need to keep communicating is even more. In such a scenario, we need to prioritize connectivity with our various stakeholders, internal and external. We regularly meet over virtual platforms to take stock of the overall situation while also discussing our activities. Regular communication with the management also allows us to get a broader view of the developments within the bank and it’s a huge plus that our top management is equally involved in all communication interventions.
Lastly, our communication with internal stakeholders (employees) have also gone a notch higher. Leadership communication in interesting formats and innovative motivational campaigns are the new focus points. We continue to engage our employees with the overarching message that the Axis family stands steadfast with them through this crisis.
 
How can one leverage communication to elevate their businesses during the time of the pandemic?
Communication is fundamental for any business at any point of time. In situations like these, it is important that you reassure your support and concern for your stakeholders. Often, the assurance of being connected and having help at hand when needed, can go a long way.
Axis Bank kept a two-way communication going, throughout. While the top management regularly communicated with our customers and employees through various channels, our CSOs and Relationship Managers have been constantly in touch with more than 3 lakh customers to assist them in every way possible. In fact, many of our customers have gone on record to appreciate the efforts taken by our employees, who readily tread the extra mile when the situation demands. 

What paradigm shift will the communication industry witness post COVID?
Virtual and Digital are two prominent themes that the communication industry will adapt to in the near future. As demanding a change that it is, it will strengthen our path towards a colossal transformation for Digital India; something that the government of India is also actively driving. 
While the traditional forms of communication will continue to have its audience, the industry’s shift to online platforms will hasten as we look to tap an audience that recognizes itself mainly with new-age media. 
Virtual press conferences and webinars have already become significant tools for communication and it is safe to say that we have entered a stage in the process of innovation and technological evolution, where we have to be continuously prepared for change. Most of this should be exciting and human kind would have much to learn and benefit from it.
However, in this digital world, communication from the heart is what will truly make a difference!

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