Anand Raman is EVP and COO at Newgen Software.
As CEO, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was known to leave an empty chair at board meetings. Why? The chair represented the customer. Bezos wanted to make sure every decision the company made was directed at improving the customer’s experience. Based primarily on this single-minded “customer obsession,” Amazon became one of the world’s most valuable companies in just a few decades.
Today, customers expect and reward vendors who deliver that “Amazon experience.” To prosper, enterprises need to provide simple, delightful experiences for their customers. In order to do that, I believe companies need to transform how they engage with customers. As someone who works with businesses in transforming their complex systems into a simple customer experience, I know first-hand that it is not easy, yet the rewards are clear and include growth, efficiency and customer loyalty.
Complex Processes And Customer Demands
The most critical business processes are often highly complex – spanning multiple, siloed departments. But the complexity doesn’t stop there. Business complexity increases manifold with the complexity of business information and customer engagement expectations. Whereas business data used to be neat and tidy, residing in efficient databases, today’s business information has spread across documents, photos, scans, IoT data, and even emails and texts. Managing this sprawling, amorphous trove of unstructured data is extremely difficult.
Customers demand a multichannel experience – using their PC, web browser or phone. And they want the engagement to be contextual; they expect it to reflect all past interactions. Take, for example, a customer searching for light bulbs on their phone while shopping at a home improvement store. Knowing that the customer had bought a dozen recessed lighting fixtures a few weeks ago allows the company’s search function to suggest bulbs compatible with those fixtures. And knowing the customer is currently in their store allows the company to provide directions to the precise aisle where those bulbs are available.
But it is clear that automating customer journeys is just the start in any digital transformation initiative. Through my experience, I have found a few pillars of information management that I believe businesses should focus on.
Contextual Information Management
As alluded to earlier, because of the complexity of modern business practices, there is often a massive amount of unruly, unstructured data. Leveraging this data unlocks a competitive advantage and can drive efficiencies and customer satisfaction. Here are the three information management pillars that I believe your business should focus on:
• Content Management stores and manages enterprise content in a secure, flexible way while allowing user access through various channels.
• Records Management is crucial for document-centric organizations such as insurance or government agencies. It provides a robust engine to manage the full content lifecycle, from creation to disposal.
• Content Intelligence leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand and act on raw business information.
Multi-Experience Customer Engagement
As described in my home improvement, light fixture example, customers now demand that “Amazon experience.” This means multi-channel engagement that is contextual and meaningful. To provide that kind of engagement, I have found that the following systems can help you in this endeavor:
• Omnichannel Customer Engagement enables customers to engage with companies using the channels they prefer. This includes PC, browsers and mobile devices. It also includes web applications, email, texting and social media. When utilizing this form of engagement, make sure all engagements are contextual and integrated. Whichever system you choose, the customer should be able to start an interaction on a web browser, later continue on a smartphone and then send a text, all without losing context.
• Communication Management allows you to transform your customers’ experience by delivering personalized, insights-driven and contextual communications. I recommend you find a communications management system that helps you capitalize on opportunities to cross and up-sell your products and services across various touchpoints, including e-mail, SMS and web.
• Social Sensing and Sentiment Analysis leverages AI and natural language processing to determine customers’ intent and sentiments. Companies often pair it with chatbots or social media to provide more channels for customers to connect with the organization digitally without having to visit branches.
Although true digital transformation requires more than just process automation, that’s not to say automation isn’t important. In fact, I’ve found that companies in 2021 need a strong base of intelligent automation tools to drive their digital transformation. Some of these tools include:
• Low Code provides a platform to develop applications with less traditional code while helping to keep applications compliant with internal guidelines. It dramatically reduces the time it takes to develop and deploy applications. Zoho Creator, Mendix and Microsoft Power Apps are all examples you may have heard of and are popular low-code platforms.
• Robotic Process Automation (RPA) frees up the bandwidth of knowledge for workers and allows for a more efficient way of performing repetitive mundane tasks. This automation of tasks that an employee has traditionally performed can help you reduce costs and increase speed and consistency.
• Business Process Automation and Management models, monitors, optimizes and automates business processes. Like the other automation processes, it helps improve the efficiency of business processes by removing any redundant or routine steps, doing away with paper-based and manual work steps, and eliminating bottlenecks. You can utilize business process automation in areas such as your HR Onboarding or accounts payable processes.
• Dynamic Case Management provides automation of ad-hoc business activities that resist traditional automation. While issues like customer escalations and incorrectly credited payments cannot be fully automated, the building block activities can, leading to better efficiency and compliance.
In a letter to a friend, Mark Twain once wrote, “Please excuse the long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Digital transformation is like that. The goal is simplicity; the operations are complex. To unlock them, you’ll need a full set of powerful tools that can handle business complexity. And that is the essence of a true digital transformation platform.