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Sunday, March 25, 2018


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Just recently I was trying to pay for something, and my ATM card was declined. I was very embarrassed, even though the reason was simply my card had expired.

When I called the bank, it turned out they had updated my address for everything except the ATM card and admitted it was because of a disconnect in their back-office systems and processes.

How many times have you gone through a situation where you were working with your bank, insurer or any other provider and it took forever for them to resolve an issue?

In a 2017 Aberdeen Group study, errors and delays in the back office are the #2 cause of customer dissatisfaction.1 Why is this the case?

In a recent webinar, Keeping Customer Promises, Ovum analyst Tom Pringle and I discussed the top three reasons back offices are impairing organizations’ ability to respond quickly to the increasing demands of the digital consumer:

  1. Organizational silos
  2. Lack of automation: related to both management processes—such as tracking work against service goals—and repetitive, rules-based tasks and processes
  3. Disengaged employees.

Organizational silos create fiefdoms—mini kingdoms that have their own way of working and use their own tools, such as Excel spreadsheets, Access databases or homegrown tools they’ve created for themselves. For example, one organization with more than 400 people had 23 Access databases to manage quality and performance.

Not surprisingly, the organization lacked overall visibility into employee productivity and service goal achievement, and the reporting was limited and static. Limited in that it didn’t incorporate all activity and tasks, and static in that there are no real-time feeds. Updates are typically out-of-date by the time they are shared.

Lack of automation. Even with all the straight-through processing, workflow and case tools—there is still manual activity. For example, most back offices lack an automated means of capturing, prioritizing and allocating the work to the right employees who have the skills and capacity to execute it. They are also continually capturing the status of work from employees to determine how much has been done, and if they are going to meet their service goals.

One back-office group with more than 200 people employed two full-time business analysts just to compile, distribute and track work completion. Without automation, it’s difficult for managers of these operations to proactively balance workloads and ensure service goals are cost effectively met.

Disengaged employees. According to Gallup’s recent research, 66 percent of U.S. employees are disengaged.2 In the back office this can be caused by a number of factors. Employees are either bored because they are waiting for work to be assigned, or the work is tedious and comprised of redundant tasks that could easily be automated.

Or, it’s the opposite—they are overworked because of huge backlogs and are frequently required to work mandatory overtime. They also are not getting the timely, contextual feedback they crave. Managers are unable to give timely, specific feedback to influence behaviors and encourage continual development, because they just don’t have real-time performance data.

These factors are not just impacting the customer experience—they’re also costing companies thousands of dollars in lost capacity and productivity. The back office is an area of untapped potential for improving margins and customer engagement. To learn more, read the Ovum whitepaper: Keeping Customer Promises: Time for the Back Office to Come to the Forefront.

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