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Download our eBook: 5 Ways Your Forms Are Killing Customer Engagement and Hurting Your Bottom Line.
Part four of our blog series is up now and discusses how to improve data collection and connections.
The path to successful customer engagement is a truly digital experience.
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For many large organizations, forms are a critical part of your business. But even if you’ve transitioned your forms online, chances are you are still operating from what we would call the “PDF paradigm.” So, let’s talk about why your “smart form” may not be that smart after all. If you have heard us say this before, that’s because this is Part 5 of a 5-part series. (You may read Parts 1-4 here).
In part 5, we focus on the speed of your forms processing. Online and mobile customers want to interact with you in real time, and that means they demand instant responses to the information they share with you. They are unwilling to wait for your back-office staff to manually process form data and respond later. When this happens, you can lose customers.
That’s why next-gen forms should drive the delivery of personalized communications or documents on demand, giving your customers the real-time information they need to complete their goal and move forward with their day. The end results are higher customer win rates and greater customer lifetime value.
According to a Salesforce survey, 64% of consumers expect companies to respond to them and interact in real time. Yet, many organizations still take forever to manually process forms data. Bogged down by hundreds or thousands of people processing customer requests, back-office operations make customers wait. And this is a business killer.
How do you know if your forms are delivering interactions that are unacceptably slow? Ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered “No” to any of these, then it’s likely you need to transform your digital forms environment and engage customers faster.
Next-gen forms can trigger automated workflows, including the generation of personalized documents as well as text messages and other digital communications. Their ability to leverage on-demand Customer Communications Management to generate real-time alerts and other tasks means you can flag urgent issues internally and involve the customer in real time – at the right time.
Using rules, conditions and pre-built connectors to bring in system data, next-gen forms can create dynamic questions to make conversations intuitive. Their drag-and-drop tools also free you from IT dependence. Now, business users can develop forms fast, without the need to know Java or other programming languages. With IT help in short supply, you gain business agility by developing your own flexible approaches to customer engagement.
Next-gen forms don’t just transform customer interactions. They also transform internal and external processes vital to employees and channel business partners, such as insurance brokers and financial advisors. Many organizations are looking for opportunities to reduce data entry and streamline interactions for their customer service representatives (CSRs) or other agency principals.
They also enable multiple parties involved in an interaction or project to engage with role-specific screens and questions tailored to each individual. Nobody has to manually combine the responses into a single document or system. This speeds transaction time and delivers an elevated experience to everyone involved.
This post on engagement and delivering a better personal experience discusses 1 of 5 key areas of forms transformation found in this new eBook we created based on our in-depth experience in helping businesses just like yours. The other areas addressed by the eBook include lessons to make your forms digital and mobile, minimize friction, eliminate disconnects and errors, and speed forms toward real-time process completion. Download your copy now!
Learn more about Intelledox Infiniti Next-Generation Forms capabilities here.
Data analytics is fast becoming a strategic differentiator. As organizations strive to improve the digital experience for their customers, I get really excited when I speak to clients and see how they are using insights driven by data to make changes to their existing processes and accessing alternative channel to deliver a better experience for customers. What is even more motivating is when we work with clients to not only improve the customer experience but in doing so we help them drive costs down and attract a new generation of customers.
In today’s market, many businesses are finding that customer loyalty can be impacted, and have a big effect on profitability. In our recently published eBook on how Forms are Killing Your Business, we quote Sophie Schmitt from Aite Group who states that Banks that fail to migrate paper-based on-boarding processes to web and mobile platforms will be left behind in their efforts to improve the client experience, reduce costs and meet regulatory requirements. In other words they risk being left for dead, they need to become a data-driven organization.
People are busy, so doing things quickly has become the norm; if something seems too hard then it’s likely they’ll look for an alternative or abandon the process rather than persevere – and that includes providing businesses with their data.
Customers complete forms all the time – when they obtain insurance quotes, when they apply for a home loan or when they register for a course at university. It’s is an essential part of business operations, and a pre-requisite for the provision of many products or services. This experience needs to be simple, compelling for the customer, and needs to be as automated from end to end for the organization, reducing costs and improving the experience.
At Intelledox, we’re seeing that organizations are increasingly aiming to operationalize their insights; that is, use their insights to improve the customer experience and thus increase revenue for the business and drive customer loyalty.
Abandoned forms are commonplace when customers are challenged with poorly worded questions, or the user experience on their device is poor. Often they need to go and find supplementary information – such as driver license details, or passport numbers – part way through the process adding complexity to the process. As such, we’re observing a growing trend for organizations to tap into the capabilities of our Infiniti platform to extract data-led insights that provide some indication as to why.
The amount of time customers spend on each question could indicate how easy it is to understand; the digital platform or the device they use to complete the form could show the way they prefer to interact with you; and if many customers are abandoning forms at the same place then this could be a major cause for concern.
In a competitive environment, you increasingly need to collect vast amounts of data and use it in an intelligent way to retain or improve their standing in the market. So understanding the customer barriers to providing this data is imperative. Ultimately, customers are seeking a logical and straightforward experience that benefits them.
Data is fast becoming a differentiator in business and, analyzed properly, can deliver valuable insights that tell you what the customer wants. This knowledge enables you to make the most appropriate changes; ones that will really deliver the right outcomes for your business.
Credit unions and regional banks have long differentiated themselves from larger financial institutions by offering a greater level of attention and service to customers (or members, as often called in the credit union world.) Yet as customers have demanded ways to engage 24/7 using digital and mobile tools, it’s been challenging for smaller banks to keep up with the pace of innovation given limited IT resources.
That’s why we’re so excited to announce our new membership in the Jack Henry Symitar® Vendor Integration Program. (Read the press release.)
According to the company, the Episys core platform from Symitar is the most popular data processing system in the United States in all asset ranges over $50 million. This includes nearly 40% of all U.S. credit unions with assets of $1 billion or greater.
Participation in the VIP enables Intelledox to access Jack Henry technical resources to help us connect our Infiniti platform with theirs. Intelledox Infiniti now integrates with Symitar via SymXchange™, a services-based programming interface.
Why does this matter? Like with our other Quick Connectors to core systems like CRM and ERP, the benefits are many.
Moreover, because Intelledox Infiniti is a “low code” platform, business users can create a new process quickly, which makes it particularly ideal for credit unions and other small financial institutions that lack major IT infrastructure or technical support. Setup can be done in weeks, not months or years. Once IT configures the initial data connection, the business can move more quickly to launch new products and services.
The bottom line: Banks are able to open new accounts and write loans faster, while enabling customers to self-serve. Most companies see measurable results in terms of time and money saved, as well as improved customer loyalty.
Over the past year a number of new banking institutions have joined our client list, including one of the top 5 credit unions in the U.S., with particular interest in use cases such as:
Embarking on a program of digital transformation and re-imagining the way customers engage enables smaller regional banks and credit unions to uphold their commitment to service in the best way possible. We’re committed to helping them achieve their “go digital” objectives.
By the way, Intelledox Infiniti will integrate with other core banking systems, too, not just Symitar, including Fiserv, as well as CRM systems like Salesforce. If you’d like to extend your investment in your existing IT stack while improving your digital customer experience, let’s talk.
Read the press release.
Sign up to see a demo during our webinar on May 10 and see this integration live.
For many large organizations, forms are a critical part of your business. But even if you’ve transitioned your forms online, chances are you are still operating from what we would call the “PDF paradigm.” So, let’s talk about why your “smart form” may not be that smart after all. If you have heard us say this before, that’s because this is Part 4 of a 5-part series. (You may read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here).
In part 4, we focus on “form errors and disconnects.” When your systems are disconnected, poor data integrity is inevitable. Whether the cause is illegible handwriting on a paper form or typos on a web form, inaccurate data creates many risks. In some industries, these data problems present real compliance issues.
Form disconnects also cost you money. When your people need to rekey information into core systems, you take on huge operational inefficiencies and open the door to more errors. And optical character recognition (OCR) solutions just don’t deliver the reliable accuracy you need.
Thankfully, next-generation forms serve to minimize errors and connect your front-end data collection with your core back-office systems, whether that’s CRM, ERP, content archiving or industry-specific system. All this adds up to reduced costs and minimized risks.
According to McKinsey, a study of one bank uncovered more than 70% of its new account applications were paper-based. Almost three out of four! And of those, 30% to 40% contained errors and required rework.
MunichRe estimated that it cost as much as $300 per application to resolve issues with errors and incomplete forms in life insurance. The costs arose from both underwriting and administrative issues.
Just imagine how manual forms mess up your operations:
Those problems just focus on the cost side of the equation. On the revenue side, customers hate it when you get their data wrong. It says you neither know or care about them. Nothing can erode customer loyalty faster than that.
When you connect your next-gen digital forms with core systems of record, you realize serious value creation. You also avoid errors by cutting out manual processes and poor customer interactions. That’s because next-gen forms are not really traditional “smart forms” at all. They are adaptive interviews you have with customers that inform the data you collect which you can then share back with them during any transaction.
Consider all the areas where you can merge information you already have and which you collect during adaptive customer interviews. They include data going into and out of your:
As you look at next-gen forms, you quickly see how they become a system of engagement that improves customer experiences and extend your IT investments.
For most organizations, your IT team is in high demand and short supply. But customers and market demand require a more agile, flexible approach to building new processes. With the Intelledox approach, after IT sets up these connectors to core systems such as those above, business users are empowered to build any new data-collection process quickly through easy-to-use, drag-and-drop capabilities. They just drop in the data fields they want. This is the essence of low-code platforms like Intelledox Infiniti.
It’s very rewarding working with organisations that can attribute not only process efficiencies and costs savings to a new digital transformation solution, but also improved safety. It’s even better when I can see the project happen quickly and easily.
Any business that has been established for several years will at some stage be faced with the challenge of upgrading legacy systems and processes.
At Wannon Water, their reliance on paper-based forms and manual workflow overtime became at odds their emphasis on safety, compliance and efficiency. It provided a clear opportunity for improving how they collect data – particularly out in the field, where employees needed to complete a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) prior to starting any manual activity, such as digging roads or fixing pipes.
Depending on the job, each of the 300 or so JSAs completed each month could incorporate multiple forms, each extending to several pages long. As one might imagine, this convoluted process combined with the cumbersome nature of paper-based data capture, led to several issues. Forms were submitted in an incomplete state, at times forms were left in vehicles and never made it to records management; and there were often discrepancies with version control.
“Capturing data with Intelledox next-generation forms delivers business benefits that extend far past efficiencies”, says Wannon Water GIS & Digital Workplace Manager Chris Crossland.
Wannon Water sought a digital solution that made data collection easier, improved data analytics and upheld their commitment to safety and compliance. The partnership between Intelledox, and Intelledox partner FYB (who conducted business analysis and established the digital processes) allowed them to do just that. In a period of 6 months, they automated forms end-to-end, from data capture to workflow to delivery.
Post implementation, we asked them how digitising their forms impacted their business. And the benefits were many.
First was the efficiency benefits. Their people find automated forms faster and easier to complete, and they can now do this using their tablet or smartphone. Completion is now automated, so an algorithm prompts them to fill out required sections depending on their relevant scenarios, so employees no longer need to dig out additional forms. The digitisation effort has also reduced the JSA process from eleven possible paper forms to just one digital form, and changes made throughout a job are live and up to date – improving their overall reporting and compliance.
Second, smart workflows direct the forms immediately to the right people and removed manual scanning requirements and the risk of lost forms. Wannon were able to save 1.5 FTE’s by eliminating manual form collection and redeploy them to new, higher value tasks.
But more than that, automated forms have provided valuable opportunities for Wannon Water to leverage data analytics more effectively. For example, when previously completing paper based forms, employees could use several alternative words to describe a fall – perhaps trip, stumble or slip. Introducing standard words through a drop-down list or a ‘pick-list’ has made it easier for data to be analysed and applied to improve operational effectiveness.
Perhaps an unintended benefit was that Wannon Water were able to identify employees who fill out forms really well and use them to help set company-wide quality standards. They’ve also been able to identify common safety hazards and areas for improvement, which has informed the frequency and style of their internal training programs.
While the JSA was the original catalyst for change, Wannon Water have since expanded their automated forms to include several others, including expense claims, corporate ordering and vehicle checklists. This truly has been a fantastic example of digital transformation best practice – starting with one or two problem areas and implementing a solution that can later be scaled to other parts of the business with the lessons learnt from the first project.
I’ve had the privilege over the past 10 years to work with organisations globally on their transformation projects, large and small – and while change is hard, and transformation is never easy or straightforward, the combination of expected and unexpected benefits at the end have always made the journey worth it.
Introducing Intelledox’s automated forms has supported a positive cultural shift and provided Wannon with immediate access to the data for the first time. This has not only delivered tangible benefits, but allowed Wannon to re-define ‘best practice’ in safety, compliance and efficiency.
For many large organizations, forms are a critical part of your business. But even if you’ve transitioned your forms online, chances are you are still operating from what we would call the “PDF paradigm.” So, let’s talk about why your “smart form” may not be that smart after all. If you have heard us say this before, that’s because this is Part 3 of a 5-part series. (You may read Part 1 here and Part 2 here).
In part 3, we focus on “form friction.” The more difficult it is for a customer to complete a form – or really any business process that requires them to give you information – the more likely they are to abandon it. The results of this are never good. Maybe the customer will phone your help center, raising your support costs. Even worse, they may stop a revenue-generating process, like opening an account, turning form friction into lost revenue.
Fortunately, there are definite steps you can take to minimize the friction surrounding your forms. When you take them, you can watch your NIGO (not in good order) or form abandonment rates go down fast.
Do you believe a form is “all set” when it asks all the core process questions to your online visitors? If that were true, companies in the financial services industry wouldn’t be experiencing 60% to 70% rates in form abandonment. But they are.
In any industry, the forms that drive processes like new account opening and enrollment need to be frictionless. Otherwise, the consequences to revenue are quite severe. How do you know if your forms have surprisingly high friction? Ask yourself these questions:
As you can see, friction is not always obvious or intuitive.
Personalizing the experience and providing digital/mobile access are important to reducing friction (see Part 1 on “Forms Personalization” and Part 2 on “Mobile Experiences.”) With an adaptive journey approach, you can ask fewer questions and focus on only what’s needed to advance a customer along a process. You can even let them stop the process and return later to finish it.
Consider these additional ideas on removing friction:
Integrate e-signature solutions: including DocuSign-type e-signatures directly into your next-gen forms process can deliver ROI in terms of time and cost savings.
Combine multiple forms into a single interview: using an adaptive interview, you can set up a different web-based experience for every person involved in a single interaction, with automated workflows to speed up the process.
Apply analytics to form abandonment: With the right analytics, you can identify the questions that halt digital engagement as well as which forms do it the most. You can also test your hypotheses easily and optimize to improve completion rates.
Next-gen forms serve to simplify and digitize any engagement process. The adaptive interviews that enable them are the digital conversations to help you achieve that. They turn forms into guided journeys that are contextually aware and based on each individual customer’s personal preferences and context.
And, learn more about Intelledox Infiniti Next-Generation Forms capabilities.
For many large organizations, forms are a critical part of your business. But even if you’ve transitioned your forms online, chances are you are still operating from what we would call the “PDF paradigm.” So, let’s talk about why your “smart forms” may not be that smart after all. (You may read the Part 1 of the series here).
Customer expectations for mobile interactions have changed now that virtually everyone uses a smartphone or other mobile device. They want great experiences wherever they are, whenever they choose, and over any device type. Unfortunately, PDFs and hard-coded HTML forms were never designed to handle the mobile experience. If you rely on these types of forms to engage your audience, it’s time to transform your digital forms.
Transforming your static forms into great vehicles for digitally mobile interactions is well worth the effort. The remainder of this post (part 2 of a series) demonstrates the benefits of doing so.
Your mobile customers don’t ask themselves whether or not your mobile forms are great. They judge you by the mobile experience you deliver. Is it simple? Is it fast? Is it comprehensive? In fact, they expect you to deliver anything and everything over mobile, including:
According to Forrester, 44% of younger millennials and more than 50% of older millennials say they feel frustrated and annoyed when a bank’s website isn’t mobile friendly. This is why the best forms are not really forms at all. They are interactive, digital discussions that take place over any device. The end result is completion of whatever transaction a mobile customer is seeking.
Many companies are still offering the same blank fields to everyone on a web form, instead of dynamically filling forms in an intuitive, adaptive manner. That undermines the power of mobile.
By using an adaptive digital technology, you can hold “conversations” with customers and prospects based on their personal and mobile context. This means you can get all sorts of new data from them and enhance their experience in response.
Imagine pre-filling forms so customers don’t need to type. They merely tap and swipe to confirm data. And the experience can be uniquely better in many ways:
Taking advantage of the tools now available with mobile devices, you can empower customers like never before.
Digital disruptors are entering many markets, especially in banking, insurance, healthcare, education and other core services. These upstarts are targeting mobile users, because they represent the future of customer interaction. By transforming from old ways of presenting static forms to next-gen forms that drive adaptive experiences, you can avoid being disrupted, or worse, displaced.
There is also a great upshot to the digital-mobile revolution. If you transform right, you will attract more customers and make your existing ones more loyal.
For many large organizations, forms are a critical part of your business. But even if you’ve transitioned your forms online, chances are you are still operating from what we would call the “PDF paradigm.” So let’s talk about why your “smart form” may not be that smart after all.
In today’s era, personalization is key to customer engagement. If you are presenting customers with static blank forms that demonstrate little knowledge of who they are and what they desire, they will abandon your business for one that better understands them and adapts to their needs and contexts. Friction like this can mean high NIGO (not in good order) or form abandonment rates.
Delivering this high level of personalization is easier than you may imagine, and the remainder of this post (part 1 of a series) demonstrates how to approach your own forms and customer experience transformation.
To fix any of your form problems, you first need to know where the problems exist. Think about the forms you ask potential or current customers to fill out to support a transaction, and then ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, chances are good that you could benefit from a next-gen approach to forms and data collection.
What if next-generation forms really aren’t forms at all? Instead, they are intuitive experiences delivered through adaptive interviews.
Look at it this way – forms today help customers do what they need to do: buy a car, get insurance, apply for something, etc. How can you simplify and digitize that engagement process? Instead of a form, present an interactive digital conversation that changes based on what you know already. Next-gen forms are really guided journeys that are contextually aware based on each individual customer’s personal preferences, device and location.
It’s similar to how tax preparation software works. In an adaptive interview, you present dynamic questions to the customer based on known data and new responses. This eliminates unnecessary questions and the need to enter and re-enter information into a static form. Customers either confirm known information or provide necessary details via the shortest route possible. All of this improves their experience, speeds up the business process – and creates major operational efficiency for the enterprise.
Next-generation forms can deliver strong ROI to many parts of a business. In our experience, customer-facing areas are most often the best and most intuitive starting points. Here are a few examples:
Customer Acquisition. A lot goes into signing on new customers, including numerous forms. Anywhere from tens to hundreds of forms may currently be used for processes tied to applications, quotes, proposals, contracts and agreements, and loan origination.
Customer Onboarding. Customers are constantly surprised when businesses without next-gen forms make them repeat information they have already given to become a customer in the first place. That’s a major reason why customer onboarding is a great place to start your own transformation. Processes here include policy or other enrollment, new account opening, Know Your Customer (KYC) verification, automated billing setup, and welcome kit generation.
Customer Service. Millennials and people of even younger generations expect there to be an app for everything, or at the very least streamlined and 100% digital ways to communicate with their current service providers. Your customer service processes should all leverage next-gen forms in as many areas as possible, including insurance claims / first notice of loss, self-service account updates, “Skip a Payment” or payoff requests, financial statements of advice (SOAs), and any other information requests.
Look at it this way. You’ve spent so much in marketing and advertising to draw customers and potential customers to your business, your websites, and even your apps. Shouldn’t you be prepared to engage them the way they expect when they arrive?
I was recently invited by RSM Australia to address a gathering of senior financial industry executives at their Business and Finance Symposium 2018. The theme of the symposium was “In an ever-changing business environment, are you prepared to face the future with confidence?” I spoke about “Adopting technology and automation to deliver a ‘WOW’ customer experience” and because the topic is so relevant in today’s fast paced business environment, I decided to write about it.
Let me start with a short story about my ‘Wow’ customer experience. Many years ago, I walked into a Tesco’s supermarket in London wanting to buy a bottle of Australian wine. I was excited to see that the Penfold’s 389 was on sale,50% off!! At the cash register, the price came up as the normal price. I protested that it was on sale, and the cashier happily pressed the buzzer and called out “Customer Service to the front register please, Customer Service…”
My heart rate went up and I went into defensive mode, I was prepared for the fight. I told the unusually friendly Customer Service attendant that the bottle was labelled at a cheaper price on the shelf. He walked back over with me and we had a look together.
Indeed, there was a discount price tag, but as it turned out it clearly related to the bottles of wine below the tag, and not the nice bottles of 389 above the tag.
It was clearly ‘user error’ on my part, and I mumbled something like “ah sorry my mistake”.
To my pleasant surprise, the Customer Service attendant said to me: Ma’am, it is our store policy to delight our customers so we will sell you the wine at the price you thought it was, even though it wasn’t. And so WOW, of course I was delighted.
On my way out, the cashier, who was a completely different person, said to me “Thank you, please come again”.
You betcha I will!
This was a truly WOW customer experience, and I am still raving about it 15 years later. But this was a face to face in-store experience, and they would not have known back then if I was a loyal customer or not, or what I purchased, or when.
I want you to hold that thought.
I have spent my career helping customer-centric organisations such as banks, insurance companies, wealth planners, schools, hospitals, as well as federal and state governments all around the world to adopt technology and automation to deliver better outcomes for their customers.
The biggest challenge that the leaders in these organisations face is that they know they need to embrace change and try new strategies to be future proof. They know they need to try new operating models to improve the way they do business in a digital world. The challenge is to actually do it.
We must all be prepared to face the future with confidence and to adapt to change with open minds.
I am here today to let you know that The Future is all about the needs of Your Customer and how you genuinely deliver quality service. It’s about how you respond to and anticipate their changing needs and expectations.
In today’s digitally disruptive world where competitors can emerge and conquer seemingly overnight, arguably the most powerful weapon that you must have is a ‘WOW’ customer experience. This applies equally to public sector citizen interactions, as it does to private sector commercial transactions.
Your customer service strategy has got to be more than just an aspirational statement.
Image source: https://hyken.com/tag/competitive-advantage/
Being nice and friendly to customers is critically important. We all know that. Tesco knew that 15 years ago. But in today’s digital age being nice is not enough. It’s about being easy to deal with, being ‘real-time responsive’, being personal, being predictive and being reliable. We must know and understand our customers in many ways. The only way to truly understand is through the lens of ‘The Data’.
Start-ups and technology-led companies are driving the penetration of markets with a ‘customer first’ approach, instead of the old paradigm of a product or price first approach.
Gartner, says that we need to be focused on the customer experience as by 2020, customers armed with more technology will demand more from your organization’s ability to deliver a wow customer experience.
Previously, customers tolerated pain and friction
In the not so distant past, customers tolerated pain and friction. They suffered long wait times to access customer service call centres, they were made to come into a branch to update or collect simple paperwork; they are made to fill out forms and fax them back, worse still, hand deliver them. These painful tasks were considered a normal element of the customer experience. They even had to wait in line to get the form they needed to fill in to make a complaint!
My, how things have changed.
Technology driven organisations using the latest intelligent online systems are fuelling empowered buyers who now demand a new level of customer obsession and service.
They are creating new business models and supply chains, and are working hard to reduce or eliminate any friction in the engagement and retention of their customer, and anywhere along the customer journey.
All these service providers focus on the Customer. They are driving down costs, lighting up supply chains, enabling anywhere anytime any device self-service, with no barriers to buying or completing a transaction. Transparency of the quality of service is a core metric in these business models.
So, what have these companies done differently? And what can we learn from them?
They’ve reimagined traditional business models with a truly ‘outside-in’ or a customer-centric perspective. They focus on the Customer Experience. They are redressing old paradigms where the Customer previously had to share the effort and endure friction in the process. Now, provided you can get online, that you have a mobile phone and a credit card, you can pretty much turn on and turn off whatever you need, without the friction.
Why? Because according to Forrester, great customer experience drives retention and revenue growth.
Many companies in the financial, insurance and government sectors still think about their business and technology from an ‘inside‑out’ perspective. What does this look like? And what does ‘Outside-in’ look like?’
By reimagining your business from a truly ‘outside‑in’ perspective, you have a unique opportunity to rethink and plan out your digital transformation journey into the future.
Organisations in the financial services, insurance, healthcare, education, legal and government sectors, must recognize that customers are going through life events such as marriage, buying a house, going to school, going to hospital, travelling overseas, getting a divorce, changing jobs, or making an insurance claim after crashing their car. And not necessarily in that order.
Whether you are in a B2B or B2C situation, customers today expect a seamless, fast and personalised experience. When these customers reach out to your brand, they need painless friction-free processes. Some of them will also need a real helping hand and empathy at certain points.
Unfortunately, what customers typically experience are series of slow, single‑channel, manual, redundant processes and interactions that feel clunky, frustrating, sterile and anything but helpful and easy.
Traditional customer‑facing companies should realize their high‑touch, data‑rich business models offer a huge opportunity to digitally deliver superior customer engagement. Ironically, what most folks don’t realise is that automation provides the opportunity to focus on improving traditional customer service delivery when it is needed.
By reimagining your business from a truly ‘outside‑in’ perspective, you have a unique opportunity to rethink your approach to digital transformation.
But where do you start and when? Complex, well defined initiatives planned over one, two or three years may seem like a daunting task and rightly so.
But in these days of rapid change, you do not have the luxury of time, because your tech-savvy competitor is already ahead of you: so you need to start now.
In my experience, waiting for ‘IT to do it’ will take too long; they are typically busy dealing with core systems and other below the line pressures. Overhauling back-end systems is a long-term challenge and existing operating models and functional processes will always be a barrier to starting your digital transformation journey. You must not let this hold you back.
In your pursuit of digital transformation, I suggest you tackle the low hanging fruit in small steps, rather than tackling the heavy lifting projects that have a high chance of failure.
Teams working at the front line are the best catalysts for digital transformation success. They know the business process and they know where the friction is. To be truly ‘outside‑in’, start your transformation with the front-end experience. You don’t have to rebuild and redesign your entire back‑end systems before you modernize your customer experience.
Start at the front‑end, with the experience, and work with the core systems you already have.
According to Forrester, 66% of customers said valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with a good customer experience. How can you do that? Make it easier for your customers to interact with you across multiple channels. The first thing you can do is to eliminate paper, PDF forms and manual signing processes. These high effort touch points are considered a significant barrier to a healthy business relationship and are a paradigm of the past.
Your secret weapon is a digital transformation platform that enables the collection and use of real-time data with the ability to action that data at any point in the customer journey: from acquisition to onboarding to servicing.
Your front end should be mobile-ready and able to connect, in real time, to your core systems of record such as CRM and your ERP/ finance system, and to send information back out through multiple digital channels. The transformation platform you choose should seamlessly automate any process or digital transaction within this customer journey. The insight you will gain through data visualisation will enable you to monitor and gain insight into all transactions so you can improve the experience and anticipate your customer’s preferences and problems.
The ‘WOW’ moment comes when you take out the friction, when you enable online interaction as much as possible in the process, when you personalise interactions, when you are on the front foot, when you reach out to ask for or to give relevant information at the right time, and when you deliver an interaction that will have a genuine relevance and impact on your customer’s day.
And please, please, please don’t make your customer have to print something out at the end and sign it with a pen and send it back to you!
Data gives you the ability to know your customer – to spoil your customer – to anticipate their needs and, to creatively and effectively meet competitive challenges. Data helps you to respond to and recover from ‘customer problems’, all of which are the cornerstones of a WOW customer experience.
The best companies are using smart technology platforms to create an authentic relationship built on trust and on truly ‘knowing’ your customer. Every customer transaction or interaction is the heartbeat of a data-driven rhythm that enables you to continually monitor the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your customer. It will enable you to have what I call ‘front line empathy’. Use this as your weapon to build a future-proof customer-centric strategy that drives satisfaction, retention and growth.
If you’re interested in learning more about Digital Transformation in a customer-centric world, read our e-books on the topic.
Honestly, who has time for change?
Let’s face it, most senior leaders quietly boil when their “higher ups” vaguely say we ”need to be more innovative” whilst at the same time are feverishly obsessed that you nail this quarter’s targets. What they mean is, don’t let us get left behind our competitors. For instance, Amazon was mentioned in 10 percent of other companies’ earnings calls in 2017, staying with the ”status quo’ simply isn’t an option anymore.
KPMG’s Global CEO Outlook 2016 study found that “75% of the CEOs surveyed were concerned about whether their organization is keeping pace with new technologies.”
Frankly, leaders have enough on their plates delivering their business-as-usual than to also have to fluff around with innovation especially when bottom line targets are yet to be met and there is so much to be done. Leaders are the ones whose jobs are on the line here, and it’s common to “focus on what we can do this year” and ”work on innovation next year,” hey there’s always next year right? But everyone and everything is changing. And it is changing now, today. As leaders we must adapt or die.
I totally get the burden and toil of the modern leader: “do more with less and get better results” is a mantra I hear all the time from business leaders, but if you invest in innovation, and especially through digital transformation in your customer service, you will be able to get much better results, with far less effort. Transformation and innovation may take some time to set up in the first month, but if implemented properly, will end up paying for itself by the end of the quarter. Happy customers translates to higher retention, and customer service is the big killer in the market at the moment. Don’t wait until it’s too late, it’s far easier to keep a happy customer, than to win back a dissatisfied one.
In a recent Forrester report, 54% of directors interviewed stated that “Fostering a culture of digital innovation in your organization is the most critical component to consider for digital enablement ”
Good leaders engender a culture of change where to challenge ”the way we do things around here” is normal. But how much change should we actually take on? When is the right time to act? Is it next year when we (hopefully) get some budget for innovation? When we have more time? When the economy is doing better?
In my experience I have seen a vast range of organizations with varying capacity to innovate. Every organization needs to consider how much innovation they can ingest without having to run for wholesale-sized tubs of antacid. But as leaders we must all act now. We must act urgently to lead change at pace.
You need to be the one to take control and lead the innovation change in your business. The longer you put off change the further behind your competitors you will fall, and you will start spending more of your budget on win-back campaigns rather than campaigns to attract new customers. We certainly must not stick our fingers in our ears and sing ’la la la la la” while we wait for all factors to be perfect before we can create a culture of change inside our own organizations. You need to start investing in innovation now.
In a recent study by Gartner, “Forty-seven percent of CEOs surveyed are being challenged by the board of directors to make progress in digital business, and 56 percent said that their digital improvements have already improved profits”
So, for leaders who need to change and to get it right the first time, it’s about being clear about the appetite for change. Your people must all be on board and your culture aligned.
It’s up to you to prioritize the agenda of what needs to get done and when; how to manage business as usual (because in the real world that matters); how to finesse and drive quality, uptake and impact; and how to measure and maximize success.
All. Done. Quickly.
Here are my top ten tips where I have seen change leadership work really well in the digital transformation world:
It’s time to change. Do it now.