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How case management technologies can improve customer service

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak)

With customer satisfaction levels falling in the UK, how can case management technologies help organisations not only to improve customer service but also to support regulatory compliance? Raphaël Allègre, Senior Product Manager for Alfresco Software, outlines the benefits of case management solutions and looks at the technology in action.

According to the July 2018 UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI (opens in new tab)), consumers are less happy than they were in summer 2017, and this represents the first time since January 2015 that the twice-yearly report has shown two consecutive periods of decline in overall satisfaction. While the fall in customer satisfaction is slight, brands and sectors need to take note as any backsliding is negative and should be addressed.

Customer service forms a key part of satisfaction and brands often fall down at this stage due to unsuitable case management processes. So, just what is effective case management, why is it so hard for many brands to execute on what does it take to do it better? 

The challenge of case management

Case management involves the coordination of work around a specific customer case, such as approving a loan, processing an insurance claim, resolving a customer services issue or responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The process differs by industry, but in a typical flow a case is opened; information is captured, shared, reviewed and approved; decisions are made, actions are taken and the case is closed.

Case management has proved challenging to business as it involves multiple people and departments, policies and procedures, and complex, often unstructured work. The challenge is all about making this type of work activity more efficient, more engaging for knowledge workers, so they drive the case toward successful resolution. Effective case management requires the smooth flow of information across, and sometimes between, organisations. It should also include automated but flexible task assignment and the ability for organisations to investigate case statuses and audit the entire process.

The problem is that many private and public organisations still manage their work with paper or siloed legacy systems. Those organisations cannot construct a complete view of an individual case and work together with other stakeholders on its resolution. They also face challenges around allocating tasks to the right people, which can result in delays. Traceability is also an issue as there is no record of who did what and when.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018, requires that organisations release personal information held about an individual to them on request within one month. In order to comply with this and other requirements of the GDPR, such as those around data retention, organisations need effective case management more than ever.

The advantages of effective case management

Organisations need to evaluate how much time they spend on manual and error-prone work activities and rethink case management as a source of time saving but also a way to better engage with their employees.

With effective case management, organisations can work more efficiently, collaborate effectively and resolve cases faster. All the while they are able to comply with company policies and procedures, as well as fulfilling other compliance obligations, such as those demanded by the GDPR.

Organisations benefit by being able to make more informed decisions and their customers benefit too, as the ultimate benefit is better case outcomes. This should lead to better customer satisfaction over the long term.

Another important advantage is about the employees themselves. Inefficiencies directly impact their engagement level. Effective case management is helping to keep employees happier resulting in greater outcomes.

How to implement effective case management

There are two key elements to effective case management – a robust enterprise content management (ECM) system, so that case documentation is easy to find and share, and business process management (BPM) capabilities to automatically route content and assign tasks.

Other elements include information governance, social collaboration and analytics capabilities. All these technologies need to work together. In the current market, many vendors sell either a document management system or a BPM system, so organisations cannot address cases holistically. 

However, organisations that build a system that integrates both processes and content are best placed to manage the entire lifecycle of a case.

Effective case management in practice

The Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group in London faced a common challenge in its industry – managing and storing huge numbers of business-critical documents and content within a highly regulated industry. For example, some records relating to an employer’s liability insurance must be kept for as long as 60 years. Prior to implementing a new document management system, underwriters and claims handlers used shared drives and email to share client documents prior to laboriously uploading them to the core underwriting platform. 

To address this challenge, the company implemented an open architecture document management solution to develop its application ecosystem and support the mobility and shareability of content. As well as improving the back office, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group integrated its Microsoft Outlook system, so users could access the document library. Users can now access, manage and collaborate on nearly 6 TB-worth of documents. 

And it’s not just the document-intensive financial services sector that’s benefiting from more effective case management, there are great examples from the healthcare and government sectors where organisations are building applications to suit their specific needs, improve their operation efficiency and provide future-proof solutions.

As UK organisations seek to improve their customer satisfaction ratings as well as their own operational efficiencies, case management is going to play a key role. Are you happy with your organisation’s case management? 

Raphaël Allègre, Senior Product Manager at Alfresco Software (opens in new tab) 

Image Credit: Jirsak / Shutterstock

Raphaël Allègre is the Senior Product Manager at Alfresco Software.