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Charlene Raytek, Siegelvision
Charlene Raytek, Siegelvision
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Four Reasons to Simplify Before You Digitize

Business leaders don’t ask what technology can do for them; rather, they ask what they and technology can do together.

First, let me state that I’m largely in favor of companies who are moving “all things paper” to digital. However, I have some doubts that financial services organizations are getting the full benefit of technology solutions. A case in point: Recently, a Fortune 100 company implemented a robust technology platform to shift printed customer materials to a digital environment. Long after the business goals were defined and months after proof of concept testing was successfully completed, the company hit a snag on the way to implementation. The moment of panic arrived as the team recognized that its existing communications were being replicated in a digital format, but weren’t being truly improved or streamlined. And while cost savings metrics and technology ROI would likely please management, the light bulb went off around the table as our team at Siegelvision summarized it: “Simplifying changes what it is. Digitizing changes where it is.” Great projects always include a diverse team of players—business partners, technologists, finance and legal—rowing in the same direction. It’s rare that a technology solution can’t add value or long-term capabilities. But let’s raise the bar for tech programs. Let’s set some bigger expectations beyond conversion timelines and cheaper document management costs. Let’s provide customers with: -- Easier access to important data

-- More insights and patterns across data

-- Something they don’t know about their interests or relationship with your organization

-- Solutions to nagging service problems, caused by incomplete and confusing information that typically raises more questions than it answers

Missed the conversion train? Now what?

If you’ve recently been through a technology upgrade and haven’t achieved the true impact of simplification, you’re not alone. Increasingly, companies will have to periodically reassess the relevance and quality of their digital communications. Beyond the technology platform implementation, market leaders recognize that communications are organic and evolving and CMOs, CIOs and others business leaders share responsibility for getting communications right.

If you’re considering new technology to give your organization an edge—whether it’s cost, control or capabilities—don't skip the simplification:

Four reasons to simplify before you digitize:

-- Seek out and eliminate redundancy before you begin writing system requirements. If you’re focusing on how quickly you can convert (paper to digital), without squeezing out the inefficiencies of what you’re converting, you’re missing the best part.

-- Build smarter communications. Identify slight variations that convey minor nuances and build robust templates that contain customer-specific variables. Not only does it provide more relevant information to customers, but it also simplifies how business, legal and technology staff can organize workflow, providing savings into the future. You’ll maintain fewer versions that work harder.

-- Eliminate one-size-fits-all generic information and transform it into customized information that underscores the value of your customer relationship. Seize this pre-implementation moment to trap the boilerplate and the monotonous. Instead, refresh your customer service mission to reviewing your corporate identity and voice guidelines. Remember that each and every document and interaction is an opportunity to build your brand.

-- Test before you implement. Without a true commitment to clarity and simplicity, you may be tempted to short-cut research with customers. Our findings have definitively shown that sources of confusion and complexity can be precisely pinpointed with rigorous customer research. More to the point, each iterative draft becomes more effective and customer-focused, saving extensive costs (customer service, claims, reprocessing, etc.) in perpetuity.

Industry leaders understand that technology is an enabler, but never the communications driver. A $117 million example is Simple, the online bank that distinguished itself from traditional banks by re-imagining how rich transaction data could drive powerful budgeting, spending in one account, accessible via web and mobile. BBVA acquired Simple in February 2014 to aggressively grow its base the U.S. and globally. Simple’s technology interface and data mining is smart, but the clarity of its customer-empowerment philosophy is its heart. Business leaders don’t ask what technology can do for them; rather, they ask what they and technology can do together. That requires a clear strategic vision to guide the entire enterprise across business lines, technology organizations and service. Charlene Raytek is a Senior Strategy Director at Siegelvision.

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