In the old days (as in pre-smartphones) customer retention was driven by brand loyalty, a smiling face behind a counter, a warm welcome in a branch or a friendly voice on the phone. Waiting a few days or even weeks for feedback was expected and acceptable.
In today’s App-Driven economy, customers demand instant gratification. The words ‘brand loyalty’ has been removed from the everyday vocabulary. Why would you put up with average service when you can shop around online, anywhere and at anytime for a different service provider.
I am sure we can all relate to the last minute online search for a new insurance or medical provider, real estate agent and increasingly our travel requirments. I recently changed my vehicle insurance provider after being with them for 3 years, not because of bad service but simply because they had not taken the time to analyse my needs and re-value my vehicles. They sent me what I felt was an inaccurate quote, based on ageing data. A quick online search provided me with a number of preferable options and as a consequence I have changed insurer.
If the organisation in question had unlocked the hidden value in their data and used this within their underwriting processes they could to their advantage of have retained me as a customer.
With the above story in mind I would like to challenge you to consider what happens in your organisation when customers or employees perform the following actions:
- Click the ‘pay’ button on your applications
- Fill out a form on your website
- Call your customer call centre with a query
- Report a fault and request a technician (I have another sad story about my oven repair)
- Submit a claim
- Send an email
- Send a fax (Yes, fax machines they still exist)
- Request a document or contract to be reviewed
Typical answers include:
- An email is sent to a team for action
- A PDF document is generated and then and email is added to a queue
- The call centre agent makes a note and sends an email to the relevant department
- We cannot tell you what time when the technician will be there, just wait all day
- The document is sent to a mailing group for review. Who knows when we will get a response
Can you relate to the above answers?
The reality is that process happens in every organisation, every day whether we manage it or not. If there are no systems then the process is driven by Excel, paper, email and humans.
The reality is that bad processes lead to a bad customer service.
Business Process Applications – How can process make a difference?
Information flow is often hindered by paper, siloed information and lack of visibility.
Low-code Business Process Applications offer the best combination of Electronic Forms, Workflow, Data and Reporting that are customised to meet the unique business needs of each department and process delivered using low code platforms.
Business Process Applications provide the business with the ability to design and implement pre-emptive business strategies and processes to guarantee customer retention.
Anatomy of a Business Process Application
Let’s take a closer look at a Business Process Application and highlight a few topics to consider to drive customer and employee adoption.
Most of you would have taken care of your customer facing forms and employed a User Experience specialist to create modern applications and web-based interfaces. But what happens after this,do you revert to PDF, email, and Excel to manage the workflow and tasks?
To improve the end to end customer experience, consider how transforming your existing tools such as paper and email to an electronic forms driven solutions with workflow can help eliminate bottle necks and provide the insight from the data collected to drive effective processes and improved customer experience.
Electronic forms in combination with workflow can help with decision support, master data management and visual dashboards to track and collate this insightful data.
Here are four items to consider about forms:
- As humans, we are naturally self-centred and will always take the easiest route to satisfy our needs. User Adoption is the key to your success. The forms should be more compelling to use than paper
- Focus on functionality first and look second
- The forms should be intelligent, pre-emptive and designed to drive the desired result with as few clicks as possible
- Features such as pre-loading of data, displaying only the necessary fields, pattern matching, data validation, data-driven rules, cross browser support, cross-device support are critical to a forms success
Data is a critical element to delivering a successful Business Process Application and driving the customer experience.
Here are a few items to consider about data:
- Clean and accurate data in combination with forms and workflow ensures that all participants can make informed decisions, quickly
• Forms require data to make them intelligent and compelling to use and on the flip side the forms ensure that clean and accurate data is delivered to the correct systems to ensure data integrity
- Data is used to drive the logic within workflow processes
- Consider how creating connected and integrated forms could improve the customer experience but be warned, do not try and boil the ocean on your first project as the complexity of too much integration and change management has the potential to sink your project
An electronic form without a workflow process behind it, is as useless as a piece of paper stacked on a desk. Workflow is required to deliver the right tasks to the right people at the right time.
However, not all workflow tools are created equal and workflow gets complex quickly.
Here are a few items to consider about workflow:
- Ensure that you have a workflow platform that supports your long-term architecture
- Workflows solutions embedded within business platforms such as CRM, ERP or document management platforms are frequently designed to work within these solutions. Trying to extend these workflow capabilities for cross-platform solutions may result in headaches for the IT team
- Consider a decoupled approach. i.e. choose a Workflow / BPM platform that is designed to work across platforms
- Features to help drive the customer experience include:
- Real-time notifications via email,text and messaging platforms to keep all the participants informed
- Complex task assignment and worklist capability
- Management Worklist, out of office and redirect functions
- Data-driven rules
- Direct integration of forms
- Track and trace reporting
- Event and data triggers to support pre-emptive processes
- Integration with digital signature platforms
- Integration with document assembly solutions
Reports and Dashboards
Reports provide insight into process data to help identify bottlenecks and optimise processes over time.
Consider how the process data and business data can be combined to provided business insights.
Business Intelligence platforms provide data visualisation to help analyse your business.
Ask your BI team for help. You will be blown away by the possibilities.
Dealing with the undefined
Most organisations have processes in place (albeit human-driven) to handle the critical business aspects, e.g. the sales process, new orders etc.
When it comes to customer service, dealing with the unexpected or undefined is where companies often drop the ball.
Let’s look at an example:
- Your customer sends an email or fax to the wrong department and it gets lost or is never dealt with
- A customer calls the technical support centre with a billing query
It’s hard to put processes in place to deal with these scenarios. This is where ad hoc workflow and tasking can play a role.
Imagine the following catch all scenario:
- An email address is monitored for incoming email. e.g. ContactUs@Mycompany.co.
- When a new email arrives a workflow process automatically starts
- Microsoft Azure sentiment analysis is used to determine if the email has a negative of positive sentiment. Negative emails are directed to an accelerated action workflow path
- If the email address matches customer records in a system, business rules kick in to automatically route the task to the correct manager, department
- Machine learning can be used to detect keywords to drive the business rules
- Attachments are automatically extracted and stored in a document repository for reference
- The customer receives auto emails and text alerts letting him know that his query is being handled, delayed, completed
- Internal staff can route the task to anyone with full tracking and history logs
- Internal staff can collaborate with the customer via email, share documents, request documents with full tracking and history logs
- Email responses from the customers are automatically associated with the original request
The result is great customer service, happy customers and new customer retention statistics.
Where do we start
Keep it simple to start with. Process gets complex quickly and can have a big change management impact as you are trying to fundamentally change the way people work.
- Start by digitising and applying workflow to the simplest form in your business
- Go for the quick wins first to achieve results quickly and then set up a program of continuous improvement
- Interview all of the envisaged particiapants, they will quickly tell you what needs improving
- Start the discussion at your next meeting
- Watch this video to learn how process can make a difference. In this video Igor Jericevich from a BPM expert at K2 showcases an example of an ad-hoc process
- Read this book for inspiration – CX with Agile Process for Dummies
In Summary – My Great Experience
After a quick search for a new insurance provider, I found one that offered me a far better offering and price. I signed up by completing the online form. My application was accepted and processed quickly and efficiently. I received a text messages notifying me of my successful application. So far nothing exceptional with the expereince.
However, there was one more hurdle. I needed to supply proof of my no claims status. Normally this is can be the painful part of the process, but in this case technology and process came to the rescue.
I received a text message with a link to an online form via which I was able to take a photo of my proof of status and hit submit. My document was automatically attached to my policy in their insurance system and I received a follow up text notifying me that the process was complete.
Now that’s what I call a fantastic experience, well done my new insurer.
About the writer.
Tony Roupell has 15 years of experience helping organisations address process inefficiency. He’s passionate about helping companies shape their digital strategy by unlocking the value their business processes, reducing paper, improving decision making through data, reducing risk, driving down the cost and time in building custom applications and providing mobile solutions across all devices. In 15 years he has never seen two workflow processes that look the same “Every organisation and every process are different.”
Tony says “I have spent the last 15 years working with the K2 platform, simply because I believe in the product and the vision.”