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Digitally-Enabled Business

Geoff Hardy

Returning from a recent visit to a contact centre I am familiar with (a bank centre taking customer calls), I couldn’t help but reflect on the dramatic changes seen in the last 5 years. Turning the clock back agents would have been giving out balances, discussing account transactions and ordering statements. They would have been taking around 90 calls each per day with an average call time of 180 seconds.

How things have changed. 

Most of the day-to-day transactions are now completed by customers themselves. Agents only get involved when the customer has ‘fallen out’ from another channel (for example, they’ve got so far trying to self-serve but have been unable to complete the transaction or haven’t got the information needed to get to the finish line).  It’s apparent that not only are the customer service channels changing dramatically (email, web chat), but when calls are received they are more complex, varied and time consuming.

Banking is a model industry ripe for digital disruption. Operational transactions are being automated and customer self-serve has taken hold. Other banking functions have been taken out of human hands. In these areas, the profession is following a well-defined 4-stage process towards digitalisation. 

Take the processing of loan applications, for example (see ‘The Future of the Professions’ by R & D Susskind for more discussion on the 4-stage approach):

  • Craft – this is where all professional work is done by an expert in person (the bank manager meets the customer to discuss a loan and takes the decision)
  • Standardisation – the work is divided into tasks that are repeatable. Checklists are developed which are duplicated so others can use them (the bank issues a form to staff listing questions to be asked about the loan and includes scores to be used to assess the answers)
  • Systemisation – routine work and checklists are then loaded onto systems and processed by computers (the customer completes the form which is input into the system by a clerk and a score is automatically generated)
  • Externalisation – the checklists are made available online directly to the customer, made possible as machines and computers become more capable (the customer completes the questions online and is automatically advised of the decision - bank staff are not involved).
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All banks are being driven along a similar path. Those banks who are wedded to their old business model lose ground. The winners may be new entrants or companies that migrate from another sector. They are companies who are more ‘digitally native’ than those following the old model.

Banking is a clear example of how digitalisation is emerging in multiple ways; transactional processing, customer self- service and the core industry functions. It’s one of many industries impacted in similar ways.

Each profession is at a different stage. It’s the same in accountancy, consulting and other professional services.

At Sysdoc, we know that whatever stage you’re at, we provide an important alternate viewpoint on digital transformation. For us, true digital enablement comes from ensuring that at a fundamental level, your organisation is looking at change from a human perspective.

We’re supporting the technological advancements by acknowledging there will always be a need for business transformation which is driven by robust process, engaging training, and an emphasis on how it impacts the individuals in the organisation.

Companies are searching for an approach and a strategy which must take this into account – but those who hesitate will eventually find they have no option. Competitive pressures will see to that.

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