Smart Process Applications – the key to unlocking operational efficiencies and enhancing the customer experience
By Shaun Dicker, Head of Business Process Solutions at Intervate, a T-Systems company
In an increasingly competitive and globalised marketplace, attracting new customers and retaining existing ones has become one of businesses’ biggest challenges. Since the majority of products have become highly commoditised, the only real point of differentiation available for organisations to leverage is the service and customer experience they deliver. Delivering excellent customer service and an outstanding customer experience requires that operations be streamlined and business processes to be optimised, ensuring every customer engagement leverages technology to its best advantage. Smart Process Applications (SPAs), which improve information-intensive processes, are one aspect of addressing this challenge. SPAs enable organisations to improve real-time customer interaction, enhance business management and gain an important competitive advantage.
Attracting and retaining customers has always been a cornerstone of any successful business. However, in today’s market this is increasingly difficult to achieve. Not only are customers faced with a multitude of choice when it comes to service providers and products, they are more knowledgeable on competing offerings than ever before. Customer service is therefore often cited as one of the major reasons customers stay with an organisation or take their business elsewhere. Ensuring optimal customer service, therefore, is of the utmost importance, and this in turn requires that operations and business processes be streamlined and optimised to ultimately improve customer service.
Improving customer service requires organisations to firstly ensure their internal and external processes are in line. The demand for SPAs arose out of a growing chasm between the internal enterprise software applications organisations use to manage their business, or their systems of record (ERP, CRM, ECM systems), and the ways organisations interact with customers today, or their systems of engagement (email, SMS, fax, snail mail, call centres), which increasingly require support for mobile devices. SPAs provide the essential link between an organisation’s systems of engagement and systems of record, enabling businesses to be more agile and responsive to customers, without the need to modify their ERP, CRM, ECM, line of business and other enterprise software applications.
SPAs, according to global research and advisory firm Forrester Research, are ‘a new category of software that supports business activities that are people intensive, often unpredictable, loosely structured, collaborative and subject to frequent change’. SPAs, in effect, provide the flexibility and adaptability organisations today need to deal with an increasing number of unpredictable processes and collaborative activities. In addition, SPAs support the mobility that has become critical to doing business.
Within many organisations, one of the most significant customer-facing business processes is the capturing of information. This can be a tedious, time-consuming process that is prone to human error. As a result, it is also a prime candidate for transformation through SPA technology. Examples include new customer onboarding applications such as account openings, loan applications, healthcare patient admissions and insurance claim submissions. These information-intensive processes are typically slow and are an endless source of frustration for customers and employees alike. Improving this particular customer engagement will enable businesses to leverage improved real-time interactions to increase responsiveness and provide a higher level of service.
SPAs have the potential to greatly enhance the way organisations interact with employees, suppliers and customers. By putting an SPA strategy and platform into place, businesses are positioned to effectively deal with large volumes of information and data originating from different sources, ranging from online applications to walk-in customers. SPAs help organisations to meet capture, process management and mobile goals without having to make changes to existing systems, which will help keep cost of ownership down.
Organisations can leverage the latest technological innovations with regard to data capture, business process management (BPM), dynamic case management (DCM), data integration, analytics and mobile capabilities on a single, unified platform. From capturing content and images on mobile devices to the management of the related structured and unstructured business processes, from document process analytics insights to collecting the “wet ink” signature from a customer using their smartphone device, a single, fully unified platform for the development and deployment of SPAs has the potential to revolutionise business. In addition, customers can easily be kept informed, engaged and up to date on the process at every stage, which vastly improves the customer experience.
In an increasingly commoditised global market, customer service is the cornerstone of competitive advantage. Improving business processes is therefore essential. In order to achieve this, organisations should look toward leveraging the power of SPAs through a unified, integrated platform. This radically transforms and simplifies the processing of real-time, information intensive communications from customers and dramatically improves an organisation’s customer experience, while greatly reducing operating costs, thus driving increased competitiveness, growth and profitability.