Mumbai: Shuhant Kumar, a Jamshedpur-based customer service officer at Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services Ltd, would often get requests from customers for an account statement. His job profile also required him to pay a visit to customers for loan recoveries. Mayank Mishra, zonal information technology (IT) head in Lucknow at the firm, found a similar dilemma facing the company’s employees in the 92 branches he was responsible for. Technology could have made transactions a lot simpler and efficient for Kumar and his customers. This was even as the firm deployed technology applications like SAP SE’s business management software and also equipped them with a digital hand-held device which performed all the functions of a computer.

So where was the problem? Mishra realized lack of training was at the root of the problems. The users of technology were untrained and in the process the customer service quality was getting compromised.

A fast expanding network of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Sector (MFSS) (which comprise Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services, Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd and Mahindra Housing Finance Ltd) and an increasing customer base added to the complexities and made training the employees inevitable. In June 2013, three months after Mishra bounced off the idea to his bosses at the business information technology solution (BITS) at MFSS, regarding the criticality of training and the possibilities it could open up, project Vyaas took shape. Mishra now heads project Vyaas.

Project title and objective

“We could have called it ‘project Dronacharya’ or something else, but we chose to name it Vyaas for the sheer objective of benefiting large number of employees and not only a chosen few," said Suresh A. Shan, head, BITS. In the epic Mahabharata the knowledge imparted by Dronacharya only benefited Arjun, whereas Vyaas inspired many by writing the epic, he explained.

With the purpose of training the trainers, who would in turn impart the knowledge to millions of villagers who are the company’s customers—the BITS division engaged content developers and designed an IT training framework to enable employees (“users") of all MFSS entities to have the relevant knowledge and skills to do their job efficiently using technology products and services. The framework aims to train and certify employees for competence levels to improve their operational performance and customer service delivery.

The idea behind the project, said Gururaj Rao, chief information officer at MFSS, was to evaluate the skill levels on various software applications and then improve them. A pre-dominant presence in semi-urban and rural areas and heavy cash transactions—of close to 1,000-1,200 crore per month—was yet another factor which underscored the importance of training. One of the core ideas behind the project was to minimize manual work, said Rao.

Training content and mode

Based on the skill levels, trainees were categorized into new, basic and nominated users. While the new users are imparted training on basic modules which include windows, Internet, email, etc., to ensure they pass the examination, the basic users are trained in all the modules applicable as per users’ roles and responsibilities. The nominated user is one among those who have been trained and his role changes to that of a trainer. The training content in physical or electronic formats is hosted on external and internal sites. The employees can go also through the training kit and online training capsules that are made available on the portal website and in branches. It also includes class room-based training which are conducted by the so-called Vyaas team at various locations based either on bulk training requests or nominations.

How is it benefiting the company and customers?

The ongoing project, according to Shan, is benefiting close to 18,000 MFSS employees across all the regions. Not only do they understand what they are doing, they are also able to handle crisis situations better, he said.

The hand-held devices which were earlier used to merely capture information and acted as an electronic register to make note of customer details, are now being used to collate vital statistics and information serving as a potent source of big data that is helping the firm do a more targeted marketing.

The officers using the device, which is connected to a centralized server, are now also going a step ahead and helping the MFSS customer with relevant information or data he might need with regard to weather conditions or agri-inputs.

It’s also become a ready reckoner for the company’s corporate office for information regarding geographical locations, demographics, etc. which is helping the firm to target a particular region for sales of tractor, sports utility vehicle or other products and services of Mahindra group.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan Awards.

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