As modern digital engagement becomes the baseline standard for customer experiences, companies still using manual or paper based processes will face four big disadvantages compared to digitally enabled competition.
Foremost, customers will become increasingly frustrated
By transacting business in an old-fashioned way, some customers may stay because of long-term relationship. Unfortunately, many will vote with their feet and take their business elsewhere. This is especially true for companies catering to any demographic born after AOL went public in 1992.
Manual / paper methods are more expensive
They are more expensive because staff members do all the work. The cost differential accelerates over time due to three factors.
Wages rise to attract the right workers. Competition continues to invest in automation driving down their transaction costs.As defecting customers reduce revenue, the smaller transaction volume must absorb the company’s fixed overhead.
In any price-sensitive market, this cost disadvantage will squeeze profit margins and constrain cash flow and create further negative downstream effects.
Manual / paper based processes cannot assure 100% quality
For one simple reason: people are involved. No matter the manual process design, humans are fallible, prone to distraction and subject to error.
Additionally, a modern, automated customer experience will track status at all steps and provide a more revealing root cause analysis in case of an error. Try tracking a manual or paper-based process with the same level of fidelity as an automated process. It’s just not possible.
Manual processes cannot generate statistics needed for big data analytics
All the while, the competition is using data gathered from automated activities to learn how to better satisfy their customers through offers and product innovation.
Without the “window into customer behavior”, the manually based companies may be virtually excluded from disrupting their competitors in the future.
These competitive trends don’t operate in isolation, but usually combine to create a “vicious cycle”. Once the snowball starts rolling down hill, it gathers momentum and things turn from bad to worse. If left unchecked, the company may head for a buyout or bankruptcy. In the end, if it’s even salvageable, the turnaround strategy will certainly involve process automation.
A familiar analogy for many people comes from home ownership. Many homeowners defer updates to their very comfy houses. When the day comes to sell, the realtor delivers the “big surprise”. Remember, all those deferred projects, including that kitchen remodel with granite counter tops. Well, they must be done – now! Furthermore, what pleasure the owners might have enjoyed by taking care of that years ago? Similarly, by investing in automation, how much more competitive and profitable could a company be – both today and for the long run?
Actually, companies can deliver thoroughly modern customer experiences by using workflow automation to skillfully connect documents, people and systems. To transition, the path of least resistance is to implement workflow software with other basic tools, including paper and electronic document capture, cognitive document automation / OCR, and robotic process automation (RPA). Once the capture and OCR tools get all incoming paper and electronic documents into a standard format, imagine the possibilities for automated handling.
Possibilities for Automated Handling
- Use data extracted from each document to direct the associated transaction into the correct work stream.
- Use RPA to pull necessary data from web-based public records or partner portals for Know Your Customer identity verification, credit score, address verification, watch list flag, etc.
- Proactively track the status of transactions.
- Monitor overall transaction volume and report bottlenecks for management attention.
- Follow established approval limits to route transactions to next-level approval.
- Email approvers that transactions await their attention.
- Generate notifications to customers using their preferred communication path: email, text, chat-bot, phone or even paper-based.
- Generate payments and associated support to customers, vendors, government entities, shareholders or others via their preferred payment stream, i.e. ACH or check.
- Report exceptions based on various factors: high dollar value, VIP customer status, exceeding target cycle time in any step, etc.
- Get exceptions back on track by automatically escalating exceptions for priority handling.
- Systematically tag all transactions: “who performed” (employee id or software step), “what occurred” (action type) and “when completed” (date & time stamp).
- Use transaction tags to analyze customer journeys, costs and areas for improvement.
- Complete post-transaction audits to ensure compliance and report exceptions for root cause analysis and correction.
- Post completed content into the content management, ERP, accounting or other systems of record using robotic software (RPA).