Research & Analysis

The Journey to Customer-Centricity

Most microfinance institutions provide a narrowly focused product range, usually only microcredit. Until recently, this was the major focus of Janalakshmi Financial Services, a microfinance institution in India serving over a million customers in urban areas. Janalakshmi built its portfolio around a Grameen-style group loan product. In 2011, Janalakshmi took the first steps toward customer-centricity, segmenting its customer base and designing the “Jana-One” delivery channel to offer a full range of financial services to the owners of high-growth potential microenterprises, a segment they called “accelerators.” While this move was an innovation for Janalakshmi’s business model, the institutional mechanisms were still set up to deliver credit. Recognizing this tension between the vision and execution, Janalakshmi partnered with CGAP to explore new approaches in understanding its customers and to implement the principles of customer-centricity throughout the operational structures of the organization. The Janalakshmi journey toward embedded and internalized customer-centricity will span three broad phases (Understanding Customers, Designing Effective Organizational Delivery, and Making the Business Case Work). This brochure shares the learnings from the first phase of work to understand customers. Janalakshmi, CGAP, and Innovation Labs (a Bangalore-based design-innovation consultancy) worked together over six months on this project.

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This short film chronicles the Janalakshmi team's efforts to transform their business to offer the next generation of financial services for the poor in India.