Most people don't think "information management" when they hear "customer experience."

But in a world where fresh competition seems to emerge almost daily, the task of providing an exceptional customer experience demands a collaborative effort from every corner of the organization.

In order to achieve the cohesion necessary to enhance customer experience and satisfaction, we must lay the groundwork for effective information management and document collaboration. 

Some businesses may find that providing employees with the right collaboration tools is the key to enhancing overall customer experience, while others may find an opportunity to apply these principles even more broadly as part of their customer acquisition and retention strategies. 

Whichever applies to your organization, these three approaches to modernizing information management can revolutionize the relationship between your organization and your customer.

1. Bring Order to Document Disarray

Having instant access to information in one place is no longer considered a luxury — especially when it relates to customers. 

According to a recent Forrester report, 79 percent of knowledge workers directly communicate and collaborate with customers. Yet the ever-expanding assortment of CRM systems, cloud-based storage options and communication tools can make accessing and organizing information a challenge. 

With such a high percentage of your workforce interfacing with customers, it’s essential to simplify the way information is organized, documented and communicated across all departments.

An integrated business suite can reduce the superfluous time it takes to find and utilize order or contract details, customer information and other transactional intricacies that may be spread across different programs. For example, integrating document collaboration solutions with CRM platforms allows any employee across the organization to easily access all customer information and documentation, in context, with just a few clicks.

Integrating document collaboration solutions can also enhance overall employee productivity. 

Independent analyst firm Nucleus Research found that using an integrated suite can help companies accelerate financial close times by up to 50 percent, increase sales productivity by 12.5 percent, raise inventory turns by 50 percent, and cut order processing time by up to 66 percent. These efficiencies create new opportunities to benefit the customer more quickly and competently — whether it’s closing a sale, processing an order or offering excellent customer support.

2. Provide Around-the-Clock Accessibility

The days of employees remaining confined to their desks for eight consecutive hours are gone. Modern knowledge workers embrace a more fluid approach to “the office,” often working remotely, operating on flexible hours or staying on call to address any urgent issues. 

These adjustments to daily workflow create the need to provide employees with 24/7/365 access to their documents and workflows. Employees need the ability to not just access their files, but to work with them accordingly, from editing and signing to annotating and sharing with colleagues or customers.

Likewise, customers don’t operate on a 9-to-5 basis. Allowing your employees universal access to their documents enables them to be productive and impactful at any time of day, especially when your customers need it most. 

In our fast-paced world, quick response times and extraordinary customer relationships can set you apart from the competition while driving customer acquisition, retention and loyalty.

3. Enable Innovation

When employees are given a simple way to collaborate effectively, a new culture of innovation is born. Google commissioned an international study that discovered an 81 percent positive correlation between collaboration and innovation. 

Enabling employees to brainstorm together is an invaluable part of making a product more valuable to consumers. Thanks to advances in document collaboration, employees benefit from real-time visibility and seamless information sharing that can bolster fresh ideas and renewed innovation.

IBM recently explored this link between collaborative corporate environments, innovation and the customer experience. Its study revealed that “extensively collaborative” companies performed better than their peers, and companies that collaborated with external sources, such as customers and partners, made more money than those that didn’t.

Happiness is Contagious

As businesses generate and process increasing amounts of complex information, CIOs and IT are under new pressure to prioritize information management and implement strategies that benefit the customer. 

Yet at the root of these efforts, we must remember that the most direct route to an exceptional customer experience is through a happy workforce.

By saving time, reducing frustration and promoting organization, strategic information management can empower employees to work more efficiently and enrich performance. With the right tools and effective collaboration strategies, employees can streamline their efforts to spend less time on common annoyances — and more time providing an excellent customer experience. And if the customer is happy, everyone’s happy.

Title image "Happy" (CC BY 2.0) by jwerkman