Operational Efficiency vs. Customer Experience? It Doesn't Have to Be a Choice

Enhancing the customer experience holistically will require the ability for organizations to access a much broader amount of customer data.
Customer Experience

In industries going through massive change like healthcare (and insurance and banking and retail, etc., etc.), it's easy to let the need for efficiency put a good customer experience on the back burner. While today's customers expect an immediate and personalized experience in the channel of their choosing, most organizations are responding by providing mobile, online portals and print channel options. Unfortunately, in a quest for efficiency, the applications that drive these channels are typically not integrated to actually work together, compromising the desired customer experience and resulting loyalty.

For most organizations, source data for different communications is maintained in separate systems. In an attempt to improve efficiency of a single application, the data it uses is typically self-contained. Data that feeds a mobile app is managed in one system; data used to generate printed documents in another; and the data that drives a customer's choices while logged into an online portal resides in yet another. Over time, these data silos result in duplication of content across systems, a practice that makes it difficult-if not impossible-to deliver a consistent and holistic customer experience.

For organizations to provide customers with much more interactive and valuable experiences in the coming year, they will need to address a couple of key elements that allows them to overcome these silos and fully leverage everything they know about the customer:

Enter content lifecycle management

Enhancing the customer experience holistically will require the ability for organizations to access a much broader amount of data (arguably everything they have) from across systems-old and new-and have the capabilities to act on that information as a whole, in real time, and equally across channels. This enables the customer experience to be uniformly rich across all the touchpoints they have with a company. Account management/customer service data and purchase history data can co-exist, both playing an integral part in the formula that shapes the customer communication.

Business applications with sophisticated content management and workflow capabilities hold the potential to improve efficiency and increase the value of company data by re-shaping how the organization can use the information. Termed "content lifecycle management," data, images, text, and other resources are managed in a way that allows them to be centrally stored and shared between applications with tight controls associated with their use. Business rules can drive precisely how each element is used, allowing content to be utilized for any channel with the assurance it is used properly.

Content lifecycle management greatly expands the types of experiences that can be presented across channels, especially mobile. Customers have the potential to access and self-manage a wider range of information and services using smart phones and other devices. For example, correspondence previously formatted for print, such as a monthly statement, is no longer limited to the paper format. Correspondence can exist in a deconstructed way with discrete content elements that come together dynamically to present the information responsively, given the device.

The cloud's role

Increasing customer-facing staff numbers may improve customer experience, but it does nothing for clunky and slow internal processes. Both improved internal operations and enhanced customer experience are needed to remain competitive. Moving forward, cloud capabilities and software as a service (SaaS) delivery models will play an important role in making rich customer experiences possible while, at the same time, allowing companies to mind their bottom line.

The cloud enables companies to access all the services they need, when they need them and scale in real time. SaaS makes it possible to align technology costs correctly, allowing companies to purchase exactly the products and services needed. Modern portal tools allow organizations to distribute communication management to the line-of-business areas directly responsible for the customer experience and outcome. Customers will receive their information faster because of the tools that enable the enterprise to communicate.

Organizations seeking to differentiate from the competition in 2015 with an enhanced customer experience will be looking for ways to leverage all of their data assets, economically and quickly while providing a universally valuable experience from the customer's perspective. Getting access to literally every data point about the customer will provide an organization with the broad amount of content and information needed to significantly enhance customer relationships, while making communication workflow streamlined and cost effective.