- Custom building your business’ tech solutions is a bit of a no-no, but it doesn’t mean you need be stuck with ‘out of the box’ options only.
- Customising bought software with industry-specific modules or web overlays can increase productivity and provide better experiences.
- Far from just a pretty veneer, these solutions will help with employee retention and customer satisfaction.
With tech simplification in vogue and custom builds out of favour when it comes to software, businesses face an unappealing choice — persist with old technology that is no longer fit-for-purpose, or upgrade to new platforms where employees may need to work around limitations.
Custom builds are often the culprit behind legacy technology issues. They lack the required agility to adapt as systems change, can introduce cyber vulnerabilities and add excessive costs to the IT budget, so it’s understandable why they are becoming verboten. But on the side of simplification, while many platform providers claim their product is ready to go out of the box, in our experience, this is not always true.
And why would it be? Industries are unique, as is your business. You might be surprised to know, therefore, that customisation could be the answer you’re looking for.
To customise or not to customise?
Configuration will always be needed with new software, such as which hot buttons do what, what a dashboard displays, or how users login. Customisation goes beyond ‘configuration’. If you are truly looking for a differentiated experience that’s more than just ‘good enough,’ then there are multiple times when customisation will be required.
It’s important to note that customisation does not equal ‘custom’. This could be about ensuring that the right add-ons or industry-specific modules offered by a provider are enabled. Some platforms will already have process flows that will suit your industry or business needs, but if they don’t, businesses can create their own with overlain web pages that connect the dots behind the scenes. These are very low risk customisations, and don’t break anything in the underlying product.
While you may think that your employees can make the best of the software that they have, because after all, the product, or the combination of products that you have invested in, do all the things that they need to do. But when the specifics of an experience are looked at, the inadequacies of a non-customised system become all too apparent.
Let’s take a look at an example…
Your banking customer, Sarah, is calling because she is travelling for work and wants to make sure her international transactions won’t be declined. At the same time, she wants to make a credit card payment — she’s forgotten her password, so she can’t login to do this herself.
Your employee, Nathan, has to do multiple things when Sarah calls: validate her identity, take notes and log each of her three requests. He needs to gather data for each request, address the queries himself, or if he can’t, or needs additional approvals, figure out who to go to.
With un-customised software, Nathan needs to go to one system for process guidance, a second system for customer identification, verification and collection of details, and then to a third or fourth system to log and fulfill these requests. If your call centre doesn’t have computer telephony integration to alert Nathan to who is calling, he will need to ask Sarah her name and manually search for her record. And he will need to switch programs from the customer management system to an email system to send Sarah an email that allows her to reset her password.
Understanding and using each of these multiple systems is a challenge, and takes a lot of time — frustrating a busy Sarah and embarrassing Nathan. Such microfailures — taking too long, not knowing the customer, or even failing to address all three requests immediately — could add up to a bigger customer service problem: risking losing Sarah as a customer. Additionally, the decreased employee productivity and efficiency could be a factor in employee attrition and risks losing Nathan as well.1
A better way
Given the effect one bad phone call can have — nearly a third of respondents to an earlier PwC survey reported they would leave a brand after just one bad experience — this cumbersome process poses a real risk.
The good news is that with appropriate customisations, the entire process could be user friendly and efficient. Imagine: when Sarah calls, the telephony brings up her profile and interaction history automatically and guides Nathan dynamically via a ‘click to confirm’ ID validation system to a screen where he can ‘tick’ the reasons for Sarah’s call, quickly adding enquiries, complaints or requests. The system guides Nathan in gathering the data he needs (without double ups for each enquiry). Sarah has her password-change email in her inbox, credit card paid and travel plans noted and can go on with her busy day. Nathan is able to do his job quickly and efficiently and move to the next customer in line.
This workflow wouldn’t be possible out of the box, even with light configuration.
Other use cases
There are many scenarios where customisation solutions can provide such benefits. For instance, automated chatbots go from being static databases, providing website links or phone numbers, to intelligent chatbots that take natural language questions and provide answers, account info, perform basic transactions and connect to a human when needed.
Rudimentary self-service options in a customer portal might seem adequate, but what about branding, messaging? Customer experience via a pleasing, logical user interface is not just nice, it’s becoming an imperative. In our recent PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse survey, customers ranked the ability to quickly and conveniently navigate a brand’s website as one of their top three attributes for shopping online. Experience is everything.
A customised workflow for needs analysis and account planning could provide customer service representatives with access to all key customer data, details and behaviours in the one place and the ability to offer tailored up-sell/cross-sell recommendations instead of shoehorning in awkward inappropriate sales pitches. If taken up, these could feed directly into account creation, or provide insights and analysis for follow up actions.
If your workflows are repetitive, occur frequently or have multiple steps or systems, it’s worth considering a lightly customised solution over a straight ‘out of the box’ option. Other questions to ask to decide on its worth include: how many steps are in your processes, how many steps are manual or duplicated, how many parts could be automated or streamlined, and how hard/confusing the process is for employees or customers to use.
Providing a seamless experience is more than just a ‘nice to have,’ it is an opportunity for greater insight and increasingly has an impact on your businesses bottom-line. While in past years there’s been a focus on embracing ‘everything out of the box,’ this has constricted many organisations from being creative and productive. Building tech solutions from scratch can result in headaches down the road, however a light-touch overlay that optimises workflow and design for underlying software can provide the benefits of customisation without the problems.
Make your platforms work for you.