droplet of water radiating  out, the ripple effect
PHOTO: Kai Dahms

Whether it's waiting on hold during a customer service interaction, waiting for a quote or a claim to be processed, or waiting for an account to be activated, customers want efficient and timely interactions, prompt responses and quick resolutions. If not, over 30% of customers who have a bad experience could end up switching providers within a year of the incident. Across all industries, it is vital to remove points of friction in customer-facing as well as internal workflows to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and business growth.

Customer Experience Directly Impacts Your Bottom Line

The customer experience has a profound impact on a company’s bottom line. A McKinsey study found the US insurance carriers that provided their customers with exceptional experiences generated between two and four times more growth in new business, and had 30% higher profitability than firms that provided a lower caliber of service. All processes, especially those occurring before an individual is officially a customer, help shape the customer journey and their future relationship with an organization.

While many organizations recognize the need to improve processes, the challenge often lies in knowing where exactly to begin, which processes to evaluate, and what questions to ask. Even internal processes that don’t directly involve the end customer, such as accounts payable, can significantly impact a customer’s experience. Streamlining and, in most instances, automating these internal processes can free up time and resources for personnel to focus on high-value and customer-focused responsibilities. A few key processes worth evaluating within your organizational structure include: applications processing, quoting, new account opening, technical and product inquiries, onboarding, claims processing, grievance resolution and underwriting.

Related Article: The 3 Golden Rules of Customer Experience

Evaluating Friction Points in Your Organizational Processes

The questions below offer a great starting point for evaluating how effective your processes are and the ways they may be influencing a consumer’s experience with your brand:

  • Customer Inquiries: What is the average response time for a customer service request or technical inquiry? Are these processes 100% manual? If so, are there areas where automation would be a good fit to improve these workflows?
  • Claims Processing: How much time does it take to process a claim? Which supporting documents take the longest to process? How long does it take for a claim to go from one stage to the next?
  • Customer Complaints: How often do customers complain? Is there a structured and efficient process in place for handling complaints? How often do customers leave and at what stage in each process do we experience fallout?
  • Multi-Channel Processes: What input channels are involved in each process (mobile, online portals, file transfers, email)? Are each of these platforms helping or stalling each process?
  • Document Workflows: Are document processes secure? How comprehensively is customer information protected at every step of the process and within every platform that their data lives?
  • Process Improvements: Do we have a system in place for identifying deviations from processes? Where are bottlenecks occurring? Which processes are most efficient? Can you evaluate them in real time and analytically, rather than rely on opinion or assumptions?  

Specifically for document processes, identifying the channels where documents are being received will help make customer data more secure, streamline workflows and increase response times. These include email, social media, fax, file transfers, scans, online portals and mobile devices. It’s also vital to consider whether each of these platforms — internal or leveraged from a third-party — are secure. Keeping data safe goes a long way in building customer trust and loyalty.

Streamlining processes, especially document-centric processes involving sensitive personally identifiable information (PII), can better protect important customer information by enabling more comprehensive data security measures. Improving workflows to enhance the security of sensitive information can also influence customer perceptions of your organization.

Related Article: Frictionless Customer Experiences Are the Best Customer Experiences

A Win-Win for Customers and Businesses

Highly efficient processes and a clearer view of customer data also unlocks new opportunities for cross selling and connecting customers with additional products and services that can have a greater positive impact for them.

Customers often view an organization as more reliable, stable and dependable when they have standardized and effective systems in place, especially ones that protect customer data, reduce wait times and deliver seamless experiences. While it is completely normal to have process variations that reflect individual customer journeys and diverse needs, the key is being aware of these exemptions and being able to address them properly for improved and faster processing times. That means using tools that provide deeper insights into how your processes behave, and being able to predict and monitor performance in real time.

Optimizing processes makes your organization more agile, flexible, able to effectively respond to urgent customer needs, and better positioned to deliver a more reliable and impactful customer experience.