business-value-stairwayCustomer engagement. Customer satisfaction. Customer experience. Customer success. No matter what you call it, there’s no denying that we’re living in the Age of the Customer.

Every business leader knows that keeping a customer costs far less than acquiring a new one (from 5 to 25 times more, depending on your industry). The hard part is knowing how to delight customers during the initial engagement and onboarding process—what we call the First Mile™ at Kofax—and throughout the customer lifecycle.

Adding a snappy new welcome email or bolting on a customer communications system that can’t access customer information from your system of record won’t cut it. Consumers and business customers have been conditioned by seamless processes and proactive communications with Amazon, Apple and Netflix. They expect intuitive interfaces, instant response and multi-channel options—mobile first.

One way to attempt to meet customer demands is to overhaul your legacy systems and connect siloed infrastructure to modernize the customer experience, but this avenue has proven to be very expensive and time consuming and in most cases, just doesn’t deliver ROI.

That’s why a step-by-step approach to digital transformation is so practical. Once the business value of digitizing paper and automating processes is firmly established, the next natural step for many organizations is to explore how digital technology can help engage, win and keep their best-fit customers.

Step Three: Increase Customer Intimacy with Engagement and Collaboration

business-value-stairway-step3The customer experience can be enhanced in many ways, but here are three that we’ve found bring a high customer and business impact:

  1. Streamline the onboarding process.

The information-intensive interactions inherent in the First Mile of your relationship with a new customer must be simple, fast and error-free. If not, what’s to stop that new customer from jumping over to a competitor?

Caruana Financeira, a financial services institution in São Paolo, Brazil, recognized the risks in signing up new customers on an outdated process. The company was about to launch an innovative new credit card that doubled as a transport payment card, which customers could use to pay for public transport like the bus or subway. This initiative opened up a huge market for Caruana Financeira, but only if they could make the application process as quick and easy as possible.

The previous process took an average of three weeks of highly manual, paper-based applications, documentation and data entry. By automating document capture and processing with Kofax TotalAgility® and adding SignDoc for electronic signatures, the company was able to put a new card into a customer’s hand in as little as 10 minutes, start to finish.

  1. Establish new levels of customer collaboration.

Step 3 in the Kofax Business Value Stairway is about establishing new levels of engagement and collaboration with customers, and nowhere is that effect more profound than in the business of saving lives.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 438,000 people died from malaria in 2015, the majority of which were cerebral malaria in children under age five living in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Terrie Taylor, a medical professor at Michigan State University (MSU), has spent more than 30 years researching and treating cerebral malaria in Malawi in southeastern Africa.

While her team has made major breakthroughs in understanding this deadly disease with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and vendor neutral archive (VNA) technology, Taylor was hampered by the technological limitations of working in a developing country with a single radiologist on a single donated MRI machine.

Taylor needed a team of experts to collaborate on interpreting the images, but routing medical images in a timely manner from Malawi to MSU and other global sites for clinical interpretation included enormous logistical, political, regulatory, technical and time zone challenges.

Taylor’s team deployed the Kofax Acuo VNA software to manage the end-to-end, encrypted and compressed data transmission, allowing a global team of clinicians to access and interpret the images. The result? New treatment options for affected patients, bringing the team several steps closer to Taylor’s ultimate goal of reducing the mortality rate of cerebral malaria patients from 38 percent to zero.

  1. Increase customer engagement with self-service.

It’s counterintuitive, but true: having customers do their own work will make them love your brand. Companies often mistakenly believe that customers prefer “manual but personal” service over a time-saving but impersonal transaction. But modern society is mobile, busy and accustomed to instant results.

We’d rather punch in a security code at an Airbnb than wait in line at a hotel registration desk. We press Amazon’s “Buy now with 1-Click” button because it’s quicker than going to the online shopping cart, let alone the store. And we increasingly choose business vendors that make products so seamless we don’t need to interact with customer service.

One South African bank disrupted its market with an innovative mobile app that allowed customers to open an account on the go rather than come in to a branch. With many potential customers living miles away from the nearest bank with a lack of easy access to transportation, “bankers’ hours” of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weren’t conducive to using a bank at all (in fact, around 24 percent of the population didn’t). Because many potential customers arrived with missing paperwork, the failure to complete the process was a whopping 70 percent because it was too hard to make a return trip to the branch.

The new app increased account openings by 50 percent, with the larger effect of boosting financial inclusion, or the delivery of affordable financial services to disadvantaged and low-income segments of the country.

What are your customer-driven goals in 2017? Learn how your organization can take the next step in digital transformation and increase customer intimacy with new levels of engagement and collaboration. Join us at Inspire, our annual customer and partner conference this April 23-26 in Nashville. You’ll be inspired by industry-leading speakers, customer-led sessions and powerful opportunities to connect. Don’t wait—register today.

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