A new world of digital solutions can help firms elevate the customer experience, improve data analytics, and ultimately improve the bottom line.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many middle-market companies had a wait-and-see attitude about adopting digital solutions. Today, however, investment in digital solutions reflects a stark new reality —going digital is no longer exclusive to the most tech-savvy companies. The pandemic brought into sharp relief just how important it is for every business —regardless of size or industry —to have a digital strategy. In fact, nearly two-thirds of business executives who were surveyed by the consulting firm Deloitte said they believed organizations that fail to digitize in the next five years will be "doomed."
As a result, many forward-looking organizations are now exploring how best to harness the power of data analytics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing.
While deciding where to begin the digital transformation journey can feel overwhelming, listed below are some fundamental strategies that every company should consider.
Improve Customer Experience by Harnessing the Power of Data
Customer experience is top of mind for CEOs, reports accounting firm BDO Digital’s 2021 survey of middle- market businesses. The report suggests that because customer interactions are taking place more and more on digital platforms, investing in those platforms is now a critical way to improve the customer experience.
For many businesses, those new capabilities help them meet their customers where they are, such as in the store, on a website or app, social media, ad networks, and during customer service calls. But getting the most out of these customer interactions requires back-end support. Since every digital customer interaction is also a data-gathering opportunity, the key to continually enriching the customer experience is the sophisticated analysis of all that data, a capability now made possible for companies of all sizes through the availability of powerful AI-driven tools.
Customer data platforms, the next generation of customer relationship manager software, are also important solutions that help collect customer information from across a business’s touchpoints, and then create highly personalized offers. Companies are fully integrating databases across lines of business to get a complete picture of customer behavior and detect emerging patterns.
Transform the Customer Journey with Data-Driven Insights
Many healthcare services, retailers, and manufactures are shifting to platforms or software suites that offer 360-degree customer profiles to completely transform the customer service experience.
Healthcare industry enterprises, for example, are using software systems to access data in order to increase patient satisfaction and reduce inefficiencies. Systems can track call volume, average handle time, and average speed of answer to set service levels to ensure coverage. Getting these levels right and capturing essential customer data during the calls can result in a snowball effect of success. Some healthcare provider businesses report that reducing call time has increased business, which in turn increased calls.
Imagine customer service representatives using highly tailored scripts to offer personalized product suggestions and special offers, such as in-store coupons or loyalty programs. Further, customer experiences like this hold the promise of increasing conversion rates, sales, and repeat business.
Email marketing is another customer touchpoint where data analytics can play a powerful role. Abandoned online shopping carts are believed to account for over $4 trillion in lost e-commerce revenue each year. Similarly, laser-focused analyses of purchase history data can help identify likely to buy (LTB) customers and gauge their price sensitivity. Michigan-based sporting goods retailer Moosejaw created a campaign offering small discounts to customers with high LTB ratings and steeper discounts to those with lower LTBs. The results lifted margin by 30%, Moosejaw reported.
Manufacturers are also transforming their businesses by collecting operational data using cutting-edge analytics. Using Supply Chain as a Service software, companies can monitor end-to-end processes. These tools help optimize throughput by identifying bottlenecks, increase yield by raw material analysis, and boost productivity by looking at everything from machine downtime to resource and staffing allocations. These actionable insights can result in improved efficiency with significant bottom-line implications.
Additionally, this intelligence can also tie in to improve customer experience, allowing businesses to provide product status and delivery email or text updates—or a status lookup—that will not only increase customer confidence, but also reduce order inquiries and associated customer service costs.
Become More Efficient Through AI and Automation
AI and automation programs are also reshaping the customer experience. Chatbots provide automated "concierge" services for healthcare providers to help customers locate doctors. But AI is also now opening up new vistas in the health space, with companies using programs to monitor data from wearable, self-monitoring devices and apps as a new level of care, or taking those results and assigning codes for accurate diagnosis and reimbursement.
Treasury management systems offer rules-based automation to streamline the time spent authorizing and tracking payments, as well as tracking expenses.
One new travel management platform, TripActions, is revolutionizing business travel and expense reconciliation for businesses of every size and sector. Managers can set spending limits for staff, employees can arrange their own travel details, and the entire expense process—receipts, spending, reimbursement—is fully automated. The time-consuming churn of requests, approvals, expense reports, filings to the finance department, and issuing checks, has been vastly reduced, once again increasing employee efficiency and reducing operational costs.
AI and automation transformation can also work in the back office to increase efficiency—something that helps facilitate a better customer experience. One mid-sized manufacturer of household products needed to improve its speed and accuracy in processing and filling orders. It was able to find a software solution capable of processing and fulfilling orders received by fax and email. With the new system, more than 50% of these orders required no manual intervention, and processing turnaround times decreased significantly. The upgrade also reduced staffing requirements, allowing two processing employees to take on valuable customer service roles.
Transformation is Constant
While some businesses have tightened their purse strings to ride out the pandemic, most have not. The National Center for the Middle Market’s 2021 Year-End report reveals that 60% of the sector’s business leaders say they are investing more money in their operations, rather than saving earnings. Yesterday’s business model may work for some, but relying on business-as-usual strategies in a fast-paced digital marketplace comes with competitive risks. Transformation is the new rule for maximizing return on investment (ROI.) And companies that invest strategically in the right solutions put themselves in a position to stay ahead of the curve.
To learn more, contact your relationship manager or find a banker.