Customers are sophisticated and connected with the power to leave you for another company with a simple swipe or click. Things like loan applications, claims submissions, new account openings-are they fast and easy, or slow and painful? How businesses engage customers will determine who thrives and who gets left behind in this global, online and competitive business environment. Today's technology savvy customers require ease-of-use, self-service, fast response times, two-way collaboration and process visibility from any device, anywhere.
Unfortunately, the systems that run our businesses were not designed to effectively meet these customer expectations. ERP, ECM, BPM, CRM, and other such systems of records were primarily designed for internal facing purposes, and focused on running the business efficiently. They typically require manual handling of issues, exceptions, and documents involved in customer transactions that can slow process completion, impact customer satisfaction, and increase operating costs. They were never meant to provide interactive self-service, real-time information processing, speed, awareness, collaboration, adaptability, and business insight.
Visionary managers are using point solutions, or smart process applications, that link systems of records with systems of engagement including face to face, web portals, mobile apps, and social media interactions. These are now-familiar channels of engagement that provide the ease of use and empowerment that customers now require and expect. Here are seven ways you can make your customer interactions smarter:
- Leverage mobility to enhance the customer experience and bolster loyalty. With mobile devices, customers, agents, and field workers already have scanners with advanced image capture technology in their pockets. Provide the ability to scan documents from your portal directly from their mobile devices. Once critical information is captured, you can communicate process status, exceptions, and changes directly to their mobile devices, and empower them to engage with the process directly to resolve any issues or advance the process.
- Reduce the time between engagement and action for better service. By combining the front-end collection of customer information with the backend processing of that information into a single integrated and automated process, everything completes much sooner for the customer. Issues, exceptions, and requests for additional customer information are handled immediately, helping meet customer service level agreements (SLAs).
- Empower customers and increase their visibility and control over the process. Keep customers, agents and field workers engaged and informed via status updates in a web portal or text/email communications so they will never wonder where they are in the process. When it's time for them to act, allow them to control and direct that process in a manner that suits them.
- Reduce complexity and effort at touch points to drive costs down. By empowering your customers with the ability to serve themselves, you give them the control they desire and the ability to move work from knowledge workers and drive costs out of your process. For the internal work that remains, process it "straight through" or present it to knowledge workers in a way that's integrated and streamlined.
- Respond to changes quickly and easily for better customer service. Many customer- and supplier-facing processes are varied and unpredictable when engaging through varying channels. Consider the benefits of being able to dynamically re-assign tasks to other resources to get the job done sooner, or decide to immediately kick off a new process if fraud was suspected in the middle of an existing process.
- Gain insight into, and continually optimize and improve processes. Business intelligence has been leveraged for years in structured data. New systems of engagement require more than BI, they require real-time, in-process adjustable views of all types of information used during a process, including those from third-party sources. Armed with information in one place, process bottlenecks can be quickly identified and addressed so your business runs better and customers continually have a positive experience.
- Make it easy to connect existing systems of record with systems of engagement. Bridging the gap between systems of record and systems of engagement is the key to realizing all these benefits. But it needs to be simpler, less costly, and less time-consuming than replacing or modifying existing systems of record. Creating a link between these two worlds requires a service-oriented architecture that leverages web services and removes the need for custom integrations. Inputs and outputs should require no API level programming and be easy to configure and use. This essential link should integrate with mobile technologies and use a single underlying architecture that extends backend processes and business rules out to the mobile device.
By making the information-rich interactions with your customers smarter in these ways, you will give your customers what they want: an easy, empowered, and efficient experience on their device of choice. If you don't give them what they want, your competitors will.