4 ways manual data intake is preventing enterprises from maximizing customer value
How well do you really know your customers? If your company is still collecting data through manual touchpoints, the answer is—probably not as well as you think. That’s a problem because the more you know about your customers, the better you can meet their needs and provide the service they expect. However, you can’t understand your customers’ needs based on intuition alone. In order to really get to know your customers, you need to have a full picture of all of their interactions with your company.
That isn’t as simple as it sounds. Despite strong digitization trends, many organizations are still gathering data about their customers partially or fully through manual processes and touchpoints like paper forms, PDFs, and data entry via agents in call centers. Those manual data collection processes lead to data that is fragmented, siloed, and inaccurate, preventing organizations from delivering outstanding customer experiences and maximizing efficiency through automation. Let’s look at four key ways manual data intake is preventing enterprises from maximizing customer value.
Opacity and lack of a complete view of the customer
Customers often interact with various departments and business units in an organization. Although the companies see them as separate and distinct, for the customer, they’re one and the same. Therefore, when customers provide data, documents, or signatures to one part of an organization, they expect it to be accessible to everyone they interact with in that company and don’t like being asked to provide the same information repeatedly.
However, in many large enterprises, manually-collected data isn’t standardized and is often siloed by department or business unit. Not only do customers experience the frustration of being asked to provide the same information again and again, but the information also isn’t visible to everyone who interacts with the customer. Customer-facing teams don’t get that elusive 360-degree customer view, leading them to miss out on valuable customer insights that could drive significant business value.
Even if it were possible to collect all relevant customer data manually during the initial intake, customer data is often dynamic. Forms need to be updated, as do documents that expire. But when data is collected manually there is no way to update it in real time. That means companies may be marketing singles vacations to someone who recently got married, or Houston-based services so someone now living in Denver, neither of which are likely to be very successful.
Inaccuracies and errors
The potential for error in manual data intake is almost infinite. When customers provide data through manual forms—either paper forms or PDFs—they often misunderstand the questions or the type of data they are being asked to provide. In other cases, they may simply make a typo, use a different format for their answer, or write an answer on the incorrect line or form field. Since manual forms are not interactive, customers don’t always know that something has gone wrong in real time. The only way to find those errors is during a review, at which point a human agent has to track down the customer and get him or her to correct the form. This saps an enormous amount of agent time and is frustrating to the customer. Even if a web form has field validation and notifies customers when they make an error, if the form isn’t interactive, the customers may not understand how to fix the error.
When agents are taking down the customer data manually, the process isn’t error-proof either. If they are speaking to a customer over the phone, they may not hear what he or she is saying correctly. Just like customers, agents also make typos or other kinds of errors. The same is true when forms need to be transferred from one format to another through manual entry—for example from PDF into an internal system—mistakes will always happen. And when data intake is inaccurate the conclusions drawn from that data are often incorrect, again leading to lost business opportunities.
Inability to fully utilize new technologies and innovations
Technologies such as AI and chatbots are making it possible for companies to automate more business processes than ever before, including customer-facing activities like sales and service. Across industries, automation is helping companies to boost efficiency and remain competitive, even in industries with tight profit margins. However, technology is only as effective as the data that feeds it and digital data intake is the foundation of the workflow automation process.
Let’s look at chatbots for example. Chatbots can be an extremely efficient way to provide cost-effective customer service and answer customer queries. However, if customer data is sitting in PDF forms and siloed systems, chatbots won’t be able to access it to improve the customer experience.
Subpar customer and employee experience
Customers expect interactions with companies to be seamless—they want to find what they need quickly and easily, without being distracted by irrelevant information and questions. In order for that to happen, companies need to understand their customers’ dynamic needs and interests so that they can offer them what they need, when they need it. As explained above, that is difficult, if not impossible, to do with manual data intake, leading to customer frustration and confusion.
Furthermore, when data is collected manually, customers are often asked to provide the same information repeatedly, due to the lack of visibility across the organization. This makes every process long and cumbersome, and also leads to frustration.
Customers aren’t the only ones who suffer from manual data collection processes. They also force employees to invest significant amounts of time on tedious data entry, which most employees don’t enjoy. They can’t focus their time and energy on meaningful interactions with customers that drive real business value, which can lead to employee frustration and burnout.
Digital data intake is key
Digital data intake can help enterprises overcome the challenges of manual data collection, making it possible to better understand their customers and deliver an enhanced customer experience. With digital data intake, companies can curate personalized journeys to meet the needs of each and every customer, reduce errors, improve customer service, fully utilize automation technology, and use costly resources such as agent time in the call center more effectively.
And it’s easier than ever to implement digital data intake in an enterprise. In the past, going digital required an enormous investment in hardware and software, as well as a high level of technical expertise. However, today no-code platforms like EasySend are making the transition easier and faster than ever. Therefore, there’s no question that it’s time to eliminate manual data intake and transition to a more effective, future-facing digital solution.