Axient Blog

Inside digital disruption : How to build a best-in-class customer experience

Digital disruption is a term being used more frequently in boardrooms across the corporate sector. Unsurprisingly, many in the c-suite would describe the feeling it evokes as thrilling and terrifying in equal measure.

On one hand, the competitive landscape in many industries has changed forever.  New entrants relying on technologies, such as interactive apps, to redefine the customer value chain, have sent a bolt of lightning into the hearts of many management and strategic planning committees.

Supply chains have been redefined, consumer power has dramatically increased, regulation has been bypassed with business models that governments never saw coming, and many start-up’s are running rings around bricks and mortar firms that are still coming to grips with the scale of change facing them.

Customers are getting on board with new suppliers in their droves via multiple, easily accessible touchpoints, such as company apps and branded social pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

There are, however, innovative bricks and mortar firms out there that realise they need to address the changing market head on.  They’ve understood that digital disruption can benefit them as much as any low-cost start-up. In fact, they could possibly benefit even more. After all, they typically have a few things start-up’s rarely do – customers, scale, positive cash flow and, often, deep pockets for research.

Regardless of whether the prospect of change terrifies or excites you, the fact is that it’s happening, so corporates need to figure out how to ride the digital disruption wave to stay afloat. My advice?  Start with the things that can make the biggest positive difference to the customer in the shortest timeframe, and work from there.

First, unpack all the processes your company has created over the years to sign-up and engage with new customers. Ask yourself.  “Why do you collect what you collect?  How do you do it? Is there duplication? Is it slow? Is it prone to bad handwriting? Are the forms laid out badly?

You create a customer experience from the very start of your engagement with new prospects.  Increasingly, customers expect their experience to be slick, efficient, intuitive and smart.  You actually want to deliver your brand value through the forms and processes you ask people to complete or engage with.  It’s no good saying you’re the future of X or Y and then asking people to only use a black pen and to fax back their form to you.  Your visionary claims start to disintegrate at that point.

Therefore, two specific areas you should consider are SmartForms (automated forms) and electronic signature capture.

SmartForms aren’t just an electronic version of a basic paper form, as SmartForms can also be integrated into workflows.  That means completed forms can be automatically routed to the right departments, people and processes in a timely and orderly manner.  This means no more lost forms, missing addendums or illegible handwriting.

Customer service teams can track where forms are in a processing queue (and so can customers if you want them to see how efficient and transparent you are). Approvers have their work prioritised for them, and the information is stored, backed-up, and always attached to the customer record.  Have a look at the paper trail in your company and you will undoubtedly see that moving to a digital process will generate savings and improve your customer experience.

Consider all the places your organisation collects signatures from customers.  Now find out how signatures on paper are secured, how they are passed through your organisation, where they are stored and how many times you ask the same customer to sign something.  You might be surprised – and horrified – at what you discover.

Be aware that a personal signature is as good as currency in the wrong hands.  It represents risk to your organisation if you lose control of it. Also, repeatedly signing bits of paper annoys customers, as we’ve all experienced at some point.

Companies that require signatures as part of their workflow, and are looking to build a best-practice customer experience, can very easily improve things by offering an e-signature solution.  The customer can sign once, electronically, with that signature secured and able to be used across an entire workflow (in accordance with permission boundaries agreed by your customers and those established by law).  It’s logical, professional, a good experience for customers, and as with SmartForms, can be fed into a larger, more efficient, automated workflow process.  See our blog Closing the loop : why SmartForms and e-signatures are vital for end-to-end digital processes for more detail.

So, at your next management planning meeting, if the topic of digital disruption or customer-centric innovation comes up, consider looking into SmartForms and electronic signature capture solutions as one way to use new technologies to create a better customer experience.  They are often fast to build and implement, are cost effective, and the ROI is very measurable.

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