Madhura Moulik, co-founder of Skilfinity tells us about humanizing digital marketing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Madhura Moulik: Thanks for asking, we are doing fine so far and taking all the necessary precautions. No one prepares you for times like these I guess but one needs to stay positive. How are things at your end?
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Skilfinity.
Madhura Moulik: I have always been a sales and marketing person and have enjoyed working in this field. I have worked in almost all verticals- right from direct sales, which was my first job actually, to market research. I ended up heading marketing initially for a start-up ed-tech company and then later a mid-sized B2B MNC. All this happened when digital marketing was a fairly new concept.
Soon, I shifted base from my home country through an internal transfer to Singapore running a new program for the ApeJ geography for corporate clients. From there I took the plunge into the unknown and started my own company. Let’s just say I am an ‘Accidental Entrepreneur’ and the first in my family who is running a business.
How does Skilfinity innovate?
Madhura Moulik: We humanize digital. Online marketing is a vast and rapidly evolving field in the business world. The scope is immense and we as a player in the market feel that it is just about starting to realize its potential.
So as a new entrant, we use our collective experience of over a century to understand the specific needs of our clients and then tailor-make an outreach for the intended audience in any part of the digital world. We at Skilfinity, thrive on innovation and we experiment a lot. This in turn always helps us with the goal of keeping our clients visible and approachable by their audience.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Madhura Moulik: The urgency of becoming ‘digital’ was already existent in the pre-COVID world. But the pandemic has taken its implications for businesses all over to another level. We realigned our priorities by keeping our team’s safety at the forefront. Being an online marketing (aka digital marketing) company, we did fairly well. The upside was that business was easier as physical meetings were replaced by online conversations, foot in the door came easy and business discussions were fast-tracked. However, not everyone was prepared for such a situation, and for some of our clients, it took some time for them to adapt to this ‘new normal. We are happy that most of them are now doing alright.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Madhura Moulik: On the contrary, we made a few hires and had to quickly bring them to speed for client servicing. The pandemic demanded us to cater to our customer’s needs individually. The challenge was to bring the new team on board at a faster pace for client servicing while working remotely.
Covid-19 has taught us that onboarding and setting expectations is the most crucial phase in a client relationship. With the uncertainties and so much still unknown in a pandemic world, the importance of being patient and understanding along with the need to be transparent and being upfront was one major takeaway. Depending on varying levels of aptitude and expertise, it is imperative that we continuously educate both the internal team as well as our clients.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Madhura Moulik: As I mentioned earlier, difficult times like these demand an empathetic approach in client interactions. We worked hard towards meeting the needs of our customers on an individual level. Zoom and Google Meet were the ‘most used’ tools. For online networking we used Lunchclub. For project management and internal communication, we used Asana and Slack. We banked on automation tools for secured digital signatures as well.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Madhura Moulik: We didn’t opt for any government grants but did manage to help our clients get around by adjusting the invoices to help them sustain their operations.
Business-wise we did whatever had the best ROI and tried to simmer down on all other functions. For example, we activated our network and pushed on word of mouth more rather than spending top dollars. Especially in situations such as where there is no playbook, we tried to be flexible with clients wherever possible. Small gestures like these go a long way in strengthening client relationships.
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