Image by: Nastia11, ©2016 Getty Images

In today’s 24/7 omni-channel world, consumers routinely have anytime, anywhere access to information about the brands, products, and services they’re interested in. It’s this access that has shaped some very high and non-negotiable customer expectations. Customers—consumer, patient, employee, insured, supplier, vendor, follower—know that every interaction is a potential learning experience for the organization they’re doing business with; not only do they expect you to fulfill their requests without issue, but they expect you to anticipate their next move and even suggest their next step based on history and preferences.

Whether it’s applying for an account, submitting a claim, or paying a bill, the customer expects to do it with ease. If they can’t do that with you, they’ll do it with someone else. The company that can meet or, better yet, exceed these expectations will have the clear advantage. Digital transformation is key to that customer-centric business model.

Digital transformation hits home
Working in the tech space, I’m a huge proponent of today’s digital reality, but sometimes, I just want to relax, unplug, and enjoy my surroundings. So, after years in suburbia, my wife and I decided it was time to move our family to the countryside. Shopping for a house was the fun part. In no time, we found our new "home sweet home." The sellers were eager to sell, and we were eager to buy, so the deal closed quickly. The whole family was excited when our offer was accepted.

Then came the mortgage origination process. The bank required an enormous amount of paperwork, which we’d braced ourselves for, but the actual experience was far worse and not what you would expect in the 21st century. There was friction every step of the way. The bank emailed requests and documentation asking us to print, sign, scan, and return documents via email. There was no easy way to track what we already submitted. I was asked for the same basic information repeatedly and proof of income on three separate occasions.

Just when we thought we were finally done, the bank informed us that some of the documents we’d already submitted were now too old and had to be submitted again. Others that had been submitted via email had to be resubmitted in paper form with our inked signatures. I thought negotiating a good price was stressful, but that turned out to be the easy part.

As I mentioned in my last column, digital transformation doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Customer communications management (CCM) gives any transaction or relationship the personal touch, and e-signature applications allow you to meet customers wherever they are to make the engagement official. For the purposes of this article, we’ll delve into some other technology components that primarily benefit the customer; next month, we’ll take an internal or employee and business perspective.

It’s clear that the customer must be the focal point for your business. Your digital transformation strategy must feed into that.

Pick up the phone
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 68% of US adults have a smartphone, and tablet computer ownership has edged up to 45%. With more people connected via mobile, it only makes sense that organizations take advantage of the devices already in hand.

The proliferation of these devices provides ready access to the information contained in a driver's license, passport, or international ID, which can be captured via the camera feature. This mobile capture capability turns what was once a cumbersome, manual input process into a self-service action that can be taken care of automatically by the device with minimal participation by the customer.

ID verification can progress the interaction a series of steps further by extracting the data captured, validating its authenticity and automatically populating the appropriate information in the appropriate fields on behalf of the customer. At the same time, any potential issues are triggered for action. All of this can be further enhanced with workflow and intelligent decisioning to ensure the onboarding experience is as robust, automated, and, most importantly, as frictionless as possible.

A comprehensive mobile capture solution that includes ID verification enhances the customer experience, reduces complexity, and eliminates the costs associated with manual data entry.

We’re in this together
File sharing has also gained prominence over the last several years, thanks in large part to the likes of Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox. Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) can serve as an internal storehouse and collaboration tool, but it can also connect the enterprise to its customers, providing a safe, secure, and convenient space for sharing the information necessary to conduct business and maintain a favorable relationship.

For example, in the mortgage scenario I described previously, an EFSS-equipped bank could have set up and shared a folder in a secure environment that they control. The space would be dedicated to the processing of my loan and include a list of documents for me to upload. I could then share the folder with my spouse or financial advisor, asking them to add information required by the mortgage provider or to review and digitally sign specific documents.

Using this method, the bank and I have efficiently built a mortgage file together. It houses all the information exchanged throughout the process, and it’s easily accessible to all parties involved—even after the loan has been funded. The same technology can be similarly applied to other use cases, like insurance claims handling, student applications, and other situations requiring back-and-forth activity between the business and their constituents.

People are looking for a frictionless experience with their vendors. They’re asking organizations, “Why can’t you do things my way?” It’s clear that the customer must be the focal point for your business. Your digital transformation strategy must feed into that. Making interactions as hassle-free as possible should be the number one goal. One wrong move, and the customer will go elsewhere; if you’re lucky, that’s all they’ll do. If you’re not, they may tell the world about your failings, initiating a domino effect that can cost more than just one lost sale.

Jeroen Huinink is Vice President of Product Marketing at Lexmark Enterprise Software. He has global responsibility for the customer communications and electronic signature product lines. With 18-plus years of industry experience, he has a deep understanding of the space and currently focuses on helping organizations make the digital transformation. Visit or follow him on Twitter @jeroenhuinink.
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