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Building the business case for a customer portal

It’s interesting to see how many organisations are investing in enhancing their customer experience through digital. But it’s scary to see how many of these investments are pursued in isolation from a bigger picture.

Across the board, regardless of the sector, organisations are realising the importance of investing in a ‘digital front door’. A self-service customer portal that enables your customers or citizens to complete any key task or transaction on any device, at any time and in a manner that suits them.

As an organisation, if someone wants to give you their money for a product or service, putting barriers in their way seems rather silly, but this still happens.

Leading organisations recognise the positive impact of investing in a good quality user experience, underpinned by modern technology and simplified workflows.

Obviously, not all organisations are at the same level or have the same budgets to play with, which naturally causes constraints, but it doesn’t mean they can afford to put their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. It won’t.

Building the business case

Too often I come across organisations that have the funds to improve customer experience, but they’re tied up in other poorly performing areas of the business. So it takes a solid business case to redirect some of those funds towards a new project. The challenge is being able to clearly articulate the expected ROI to the business.

The best business cases I’ve seen are ones where the organisation has taken the time to better understand the current state of play and associate a cost to that. For example, the cost to serve customers, average call duration, or on-going IT overheads. Then, they articulate a conservative case for what a channel shift might mean to the business in terms of positive impact to the bottom line.

Identify clear measures of ROI

If you’re looking to create a business case for a self-service customer portal, I suggest you start by identifying all of the revenue generating transactions (RG) and all of the high staff effort transactions (HE) that might be impacted.

For example:

  • Process applications (HE and RG)
  • Paying bills/rates (RG)
  • Opening an account/business (HE and RG)
  • Supplying customer data to the customer (HE)
  • Updating account details (HE)
  • Comparing, changing or cancelling a plan (HE and RG)
  • Average call time/# of calls per day (HE)

And the list goes on.

Once you’ve identified the key suspects, attempt to get a better understanding of the current landscape.

  • How many customers transact online?
  • What’s the average transaction worth?
  • How many customers contact the call centre? How often? For what?
  • How long do your customer service reps spend on each call?
  • What percentage of calls are for low-level admin tasks vs high effort complex tasks?
  • How long does it take to process an application? How many staff are involved in each process application? What ratio of this human involvement is for low-level admin tasks vs high effort complex tasks?

I hope you are starting to get the idea for the type of investigation you should go through.

You could find this information by interviewing a handful of key stakeholders internally. Then, you can start laying the numbers out and forming a better picture of what a particular current state process or overall experience is costing the organisation right now.

Prioritise potential automation opportunities

With this understanding in hand, you can start to prioritise which processes or transactions, if automated, would gain the highest value for money. Acknowledging this would have a positive impact on gaining organisational efficiencies, increasing revenue, reducing operational expenditure, and redistributing human effort to higher value tasks. It’s through this lens that you can validate your business case with other stakeholders within the organisation.

If you’re keen to learn:

  • the drivers behind digital self-service and why utilities are investing now
  • the ROI you can expect from making a digital channel shift
  • what to look for in a customer self-service solution

Get yourself a copy of our Guide to serving the connected customer: Delivering dynamic customer experience & ROI through self-service.

Or get in touch with me, I’m keen to hear about your business challenges and discuss how we can solve them.

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