When it comes to modern business, the customer is king. Finding buyers for any product — whether a pair of shoes or a multi-million dollar software package — is increasingly difficult and expensive. That’s why keeping them happy once they’re onboard is vital to managing retention, guaranteeing revenue and providing a platform for future growth.

As straightforward as it sounds, managing customer experience (CX) is a complex task. In today’s digital age, customers have access to more vendors than ever before — and finding them is just a click away. Customers also are increasingly unlikely to have personally met anyone from the provider. The combination of these factors means that most have little to no brand loyalty, which means CX needs to be much more than a great website or call center. Successful CX is all about communication and satisfying customer needs quickly.

The Trouble with CCM

The most common toolset enterprises use to manage this need is the customer communication management (CCM) platform. These solutions traditionally improve the creation, delivery, storage and retrieval of customer communications across channels such as email, SMS and regular postal mail.

However, as effective as CCM tools used to be, they can struggle to perform against modern expectations. As it becomes easier for customers and vendors to connect, it’s increasingly clear that truly effective communication requires a two-way dialogue — one where listening is just as critical, if not more so, than talking. Unfortunately, standard CCM tools are often not designed for this, instead focusing all their attention on the outbound communications and management of channels.

CX initiatives are rightly looking to provide a complete focus on everything from the customer’s perspective, yet CCM solutions focus almost entirely on the enterprise side of the conversation. Something needs to give.

Or does it?

Self-Service Is the Goal

While conventional wisdom demands that enterprises try and control their interactions with customers as much as possible, there may be better approaches than this. Modern customers – especially younger ones – are confident with technology and have grown up with how-to guides and tutorial videos. They’re more conditioned to go to YouTube or a website versus calling a vendor.

Research from HBR shows that more than 80% of customers try to take care of any service issues themselves before reaching out to a live representative. Similarly, a Gartner study found that more than 75% of self-identified Gen Z frequently tried to resolve their issues using third-party guidance rather than reaching out to the business.

Modern, digital-first customers don’t want to rely on the vendor to open communications. They also don’t want to be forced to dial up a call center. Instead, they want a solution they can use to access their core information, solve their own problems and then go on their way — ideally without communicating with a human from the company at all.

This approach can make some organizations nervous, but it also represents an incredible opportunity for those able to find a way to make self-service seamless. Ironically, the ideal solution for enabling this kind of experience has been sitting within enterprises for many years. That solution is case management.

The Case for CCM Case Management

If the term is new for you, case management solutions supply a knowledge worker with everything needed to perform their job in a single app. A human resources expert, for example, might be provided with every document and detail required to onboard a new employee, alongside easy access to the tools necessary to kick off any related processes. All this functionality is automatically wrapped up in a neat, easy-to-use bundle, eliminating the need for our HR expert to spend half a day hunting through personnel files and making sure they have the latest copy of the employee handbook to share.

Case management solutions represent a vast improvement over the tangle of systems and software that many workers previously had to negotiate as they tackled a single project or “case.” As a result, case management tools saw rapid adoption across a huge range of industries and became embedded in many organizations’ tech stacks.

However, while case management solutions remain popular enough and still enjoy widespread use, their popularity and profile arguably peaked in the mid-2000s. Over the decade-and-a-half since its heyday, the technology has drifted out of mainstream attention as IT innovation shifted focus from back-office workers to the customer.

However, this trend may change over the coming years as new ideas around CX aim to give customers exactly what they want — more control and capability to tackle customer service needs themselves.

CCM and Case Management — The Perfect Pairing for CX?

When the technology was first deployed, case management solutions focused almost exclusively on helping an organization’s back-office and knowledge workers. However, a modern perspective can expand the scope of case management. That is, they can take all the data, documents and processes bundled up in an information management system and shift their focus almost 180 degrees — from catering to the knowledge worker to the customer.

While this is a significant pivot, these modern solutions are still built on the same core principles as the traditional 2000s-era technology. They still look to minimize wasted time by creating a central location where a user can access everything related to a case (or a customer account), reducing the chance of errors creeping into a process.

Because the user is the customer rather than an office worker, the processes and documents presented to them would not be geared toward managing someone else’s case but instead enabling them to self-serve their own needs. If properly designed and set up, this can give customers more freedom, flexibility and confidence than they ever have had before.

Even though customer loyalty is fading fast, the concept is not entirely defunct. Even in the digital age, there are still some things that businesses can do to help retain customers, and one of the most prominent factors is a value-enhancing customer service experience. Gartner research has found that more than 80% of users say that the extra value delivered by a smooth service solution boosts the likelihood of the business retaining them as customers.

A Smarter Solution: Let Customers Do the Work for You

A business’s natural instinct is to try and minimize customer effort. So, we build systems to keep our processes as efficient as possible in-house, under the control of our specialists, and invisible to our users.

While this may have been a winning strategy in the past, it’s becoming clear that this is no longer the experience many customers — especially those born this side of the millennium — are looking for. Instead, they want to handle things themselves, whether opening a checking account at their credit union or scheduling medication deliveries. They want a proactive, customer-led service experience. If a business cannot deliver this, customers will move on to one that can.

Efficient case management can become the self-service channel customers use to get the information they need, place an order or get help. It’s time to stop pushing and let your customers take on the load instead. Doing so can actually win you their loyalty!

Jason Burian has 15 years of experience helping customers solve their toughest automation and document problems. As Vice President of Product for KnowledgeLake, he is responsible for the product vision and strategy that allows KnowledgeLake to bring valuable, highly differentiated, and elegantly designed solutions to the market. He manages the complete Product Lifecycle, including research, design, requirements, execution, enablement and launch. Jason is passionate about building a culture of product excellence and challenging the status quo.

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