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Guest Blogger

By Rahim Kaba, Director of Product Marketing, eSignLive by VASCO

When we think about “digitisation,” it’s too easy to think “technology” and get prematurely tangled in the weeds of back-end implementation. Digitising your business doesn’t have to start here. Businesses must resist the temptation to overcomplicate what needs to be done and focus on what truly makes the difference and sets the business apart from competitors. They must start at the beginning and ask themselves: what do our clients see and experience when they want to initiate services with us?

Yes, digitising the customer experience involves technology but it is by no means the only consideration. Because of its impact on customer relationships, digitisation is fundamentally a business move. One with considerable impact on customer acquisition, retention, and ultimately, customer satisfaction. It is not the type of project that you simply hand over to IT with a ‘let us know when it’s done’ approach. Full buy-in from everyone across the business – senior management to men and women on the ground – is necessary to ensure success.

Customer experience must reflect well on your brand

Focusing on the client’s journey is essential to delivering better customer experiences. Businesses cannot afford anything less than the best customer experience ever. No matter how and where customers engage the business – via the web, mobile, call centre or in-person – they should enjoy a convenience that reflects well on your brand.

Consider, for example, what the user experiences when they have to go through a paper-based account opening process versus a fully digital experience. On one hand, there’s the print-out burden, the exposure to errors and the need to scan-and-upload the documents to complete a hybrid paper-digital process. In the digital world however, the client has the freedom to complete and return documents on their own terms, via any channel or on any device, with step-by-step guidance and instant access to services.

Paper can be more costly than it seems

The status quo is easy. It’s what we do best. While paper-based processes may seem like an easy and familiar way to carry out certain functions with customers, the hidden expenses and unrecognized potential from servicing customers digitally can be significant. When making a case for digitising the customer journey, it’s important to look at real costs. By examining the paper trail and assigning hard numbers to each step eliminated with the help of going digital, making a case for digitisation becomes much easier. From customer inquiry to closing the deal, steps like printing documents for review, and collecting and verifying signatures compound costs. Especially when you think about the number of documents for each process multiplied by the number of staff managing them. Just imagine the cost savings that can be achieved by eliminating 80% or more of document handling costs from scanning, imaging, and onsite and off-site storage related to paper and “wet” signatures.

Another issue to bear in mind is the cost of errors. Manual, paper-based processes are more vulnerable to error and more likely to cause downstream ripple effect mistakes. Among financial institutions for example, it takes an average of two hours to fix errors by redoing account application paperwork (according to Forrester’s The Customer Experience Index). There is also significantly higher risk exposure. Risk not only includes compliance and regulatory obligations, but also the consequence of mismanagement: high drop-off rates due to poor customer experience (or lack of a desired channel, such as mobile) and errors arising from NIGO (not in good order) documentation.

Digitising your business is safer and more cost effective

Digitising the customer experience is more cost effective and reduces errors and risk. For example, a leading global insurer estimates that they have saved $10 per new business transaction by eliminating paper ($2), service ($6) and scanning ($2) costs. Digitisation also cuts out errors and risk by putting processes in place to ensure that documents are appropriately completed before things progress. For one Canadian bank, digitisation meant saving two to three hours per week per advisor. That doesn’t seem like a lot at first, but when you consider that the bank has 8,000 advisors, that translates to about 24,000 hours per week in time saved.

We could spend some more time looking at the benefits of digitising the customer experience but I think you get the point I’m trying to make. Digitisation doesn’t have to be a big, scary project with various intricate parts that all have to be in place before you begin to see tangible benefits. Start by understanding the business benefits of digitising the customer journey, building a business case and becoming a change agent in your organisation. By prioritising the front-end customer experience, your organisation will be in a better position to capture new clients, as well as build loyalty with existing customers.

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