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Case management provides positive customer experiences

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While many knowledge management solutions have supported business by making it run more efficiently, only a few have directly addressed the daily needs of knowledge workers. Business process management (BPM) software, for example, automates predictable processes so they run more quickly and consistently than they did when handled manually. However, they can lack the flexibility required for a process that may have variable sequences, paths or information requirements.

Case management solutions address that issue by treating each case as unique, which allows knowledge workers to modify elements of the process as needed. “When a worker needs to do some research as a step in the process or reassign a case to a colleague,” says Craig Le Clair, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, “dynamic case management is a more effective approach than traditional BPM.” Because of its flexibility, case management is well suited to service requests that might be different each time, or customer complaints that might not always take the same route, depending on the nature of the complaint and the status of the customer.

Some software products are now combining the two approaches. For the routine parts of a process, the actions and sequence are intentionally not changeable. If at a certain point, greater flexibility is needed, the platform allows for the development of a case management component for that action, and afterward, a return to a standardized process.

Exceptions bring opportunities

Exceptions take more time than normal operations do, but they are also a silver lining in that they can provide extra ways of interacting with the customer. “In the past, exceptions were seen primarily as a problem,” says Anand Raman, VP of sales and marketing at Newgen Software. “Now they are also viewed as opportunities to differentiate a company from its competition.”

When a customer service representative is interacting with a customer, the relationship can be strengthened and the service personalized. That is likely to increase customer satisfaction. “Customers do not have patience for hearing that what they want is not the company’s policy,” Raman says. “They want a solution, and one that is tailored to their situation.”

Newgen was founded more than 20 years ago with a goal of building an integrated digital workplace. “At the time, most work was still being done on paper,” Raman explains. “The first challenge was to convert it to digital form, and the second was to start tracking the workflow electronically.” The combination of content management and process management made for a logical expansion to case management for Newgen. With a third component of customer communication management (CCM), which delivers coordinated messages across multiple channels, Newgen was able to offer an organically developed suite to cover numerous business requirements.

For example, recent amendments by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act have placed reporting requirements on foreign financial institutions, which are designed to prevent U.S. citizens with foreign accounts from avoiding tax liabilities. To meet the new regulations, banks have had to make changes in their systems and processes.

Newgen’s software helps financial institutions identify and remediate customers who meet criteria for certain risk factors and financial parameters, such as high net worth or multiple accounts. “This is a classic case management scenario,” says Raman. “It requires a rules-based system plus ad hoc collaboration, because every customer’s situation is somewhat different, and banks need to treat them in a personalized manner since these are all high net worth relationships.”

Combining approaches

Most organizations have a range of processes, some of which are predictable and some of which are not. Some processes can be handled as “straight through” processes until an exception comes up; at that point, being able to move back and forth between an automated approach and case management becomes important. One example is processing of credit card disputes. “We have helped companies use BPM so they can totally automate 40 to 50 percent of the work,” says Don Schuerman, CTO and VP for product marketing at Pegasystems, a provider of process solutions and customer relationship management software. “The other cases are complex and cannot be handled by BPM because documents need to be located, litigation may need to be initiated, or investigations be carried out.”

The ability to move from one approach to another is essential because at the beginning of an action, such as processing an insurance claim, the worker may not know what situation will apply to a claim. If there is evidence of attempted fraud, the routing changes. “Companies need to move seamlessly between the two models,” Schuerman says. Even if there is a lot of collaboration required, parts of the process can still be automated. Onboarding a new customer is a good application for case management. “There is a list of things that need to be done, but these actions may not be able to be completed in the same order each time,” Schuerman explains. “However, at a certain point, there is a ‘know your customer’ process that involves a set of federally mandated questions, and that is pretty regimented.”

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