This is the final post in my series looking at factors that have kept financial services organizations from creating more TurboTax-like experiences for their customers. (For an overview of the entire series, click here.)
To recap, there are as many as seven (7) factors blocking these firms from being able to digitally transform and offer their customers a more guided (i.e. TurboTax-like) experience model in their transactions with customers:
- The Demographic Problem
- The Process Problem
- The Business Case Problem
- The Technology Problem
- The Content Modularization Problem
- The Compliance Problem
- The Digital Transformation “Tunnel Vision” Problem
With this post, we’ve reached the last item on this list: The "Tunnel Vision" Problem.
If your organization has a digital transformation group, the chances are they’re focused on low-hanging fruit—e.g. customer-facing web properties, digital apps, the “customer journey,” and other marketing concerns. To the extent that these items impact core business processes and operations, most groups have only made the front end of the process more delightful for the client, and have done nothing to change (or improve) the back-end process.
Take customer onboarding, for example. A customer might be able to apply for a new account online through an app-like wizard. But the data captured in this application process is likely handed off to a separate, middle-office program for approval and, even if the application is automatically routed to the back-office for processing, that back-office processing almost certainly still involves a huge amount of manual data entry and validation. And we all know that each time a human being needs to touch the data, the cost of customer onboarding goes up. Multiply that cost across every customer and every product for the average number of changes a customer might make to their account, and you’ve got a really expensive model for customer support that isn’t being addressed at all by Digital Transformation.
To make matters worse, because digital transformation is becoming focused entirely on customer experience without the necessary focus on straight-through data processing or operational efficiency, it’s wasting a natural opportunity to provide real value to the enterprise in terms of time to money and efficiency. It’s also skipping some of the most essential elements of customer experience. As a customer, if my request isn’t processed in a timely manner (and if I’m not able obtain visibility into where my request is in the process), I lose faith in the nice front-end experience. At the end of the day, I want to do business with an organization that can service my request quickly and efficiently, while providing visibility into the process to boot—so that I don’t need to contact Customer Service regarding the status of my application or transaction. And we see too many organizations that have digitized the front-end process, believing that they’ve digitized the process—not realizing that the expensive back-end work is still going on.
And there’s a political element to this problem, too. Organizations with a designated Digital Transformation team often require other projects that seem to fall under that charter to be co-sponsored by the Digital team. Say the Operations group has determined that it could reduce processing costs by reducing duplicate data entry. It wants to sponsor a digital transformation effort to improve straight-through data processing, but it has an additional hoop to jump through to align its roadmap with that of the Digital Transformation group. Central services like Operations and Digital Transformation are often understaffed and underfunded. So cross-service initiatives like this one often get deprioritized on both sides—with the result that Operations focuses on projects that are purely operational, and Digital focuses on projects that are purely digital.
The good news is that conducting a thorough investigation into Roadblocks Numbers 1 through 6 can expose the necessity for the Operations and Digital Transformation groups to reach across the aisle and co-sponsor a project which has both customer experience and operational impact. Digitizing the e-forms process can start with an evaluation of the existing technology portfolio and the technology landscape, and the realization that current tooling can’t support the aspirational goals of the digital team. It can begin with a process analysis that highlights the inefficiencies (and the resultant higher costs) in the current business processes. It can even begin with the regulatory group realizing it doesn’t have the resources to support the variety of data capture environments within the organization, and that they need a more modular approach to updating and maintaining regulatory language across the organization’s customer-facing documents.