Customers and citizens are now looking for active engagement when they contact an organisation. Simply digitalising services is no longer enough. They want to be able to participate in the process, have visibility of progress and even be able to self-manage. It’s this demand that is fueling the roll-out of self-service on platforms that have traditionally been internally focused.
But advanced case management solutions, able to ensure secure access through the use of data partitioning and role-based access, are now paving the way for self-service which confers numerous benefits on users and organisations alike.
Self-service provides the user with a greater sense of ownership and control over the process, enabling them to see and action requests due to the increased transparency and flexibility, and it provides the organisation with cost savings through the use of automated processes. It also removes the pressure on staff to progress cases with reminders sent to the user to submit the necessary documents.
Self service case management solutions enable the user to request specific forms or bookings, fill these in electronically and submit them, and to then check on the status of their request and make enquiries. But in order to do this, the system itself has to provide secure document management capabilities, follow best practice advice on securing data and provide robust authentication mechanisms for access to that data.
The Outreach architecture makes it possible for multiple parties, such as partners and customers of the organisation, to communicate and participate via a single joined-up system while keeping data secure. Internal and external access is supported by doubling up the system so that separate agents, servers and stores are used on both sides of the architecture to partition the data.
Security is of prime importance so the data must be protected in transit and at rest. Document management using key encryption is used to individually encrypt and protect customer records while a firewall ensures the synchronisation process is secure. Access is assured through the use of two factor authentication, public key authentication, identity federation with an existing provider and a dedicated network link and potentially biometric authentication.
An example of self-service booking in action is the HM Passport Office booking system. Users wishing to be able to book their own appointments can do so online using the 24 hour service when applying for a passport. The system allows them to select a centre, date and time while staff are able to monitor appointment allocation. Uptake of the service exceeded expectations when it was rolled out. It met its annual target within the first month when 71 percent of applicants used the service, indicating a strong preference for self-service compared to call to speak to a CSR. From its inception where this system was used in only UK regional offices, this has since been rolled out to British Embassies and Consulates around the world.
The HM Passport Office project also revealed that the value of the prompts that can be used in case management. Emails and texts can be used to alert users and, in the case of the Passport Office, emails were sent to remind citizens about their booked appointments. These saw the number of missed appointments fall by more than three quarters.
In the banking sector, onboarding for new products such as accounts and mortgages are prime candidates for self-service case management. The process typically takes several steps, during which the applicant is informed of the progress of their application, but additional information may well be required for this to proceed to the next stage. Customers who are able to log-in and view the status of their application, check the need for further documentation, and upload and supply this could be fast-tracked, improving customer service and reducing workload – as well as reducing administrative overheads for the business by removing the need for postage costs.
Other sectors could also benefit from the use of self-service modules in case management, such as solicitors and lawyers who require the submission of key documentation from their clients in order to progress a case. Indeed, some legal organisations are already embracing this, choosing not only to embrace digitalisation but to offer their clients e-services.
For example, Outreach has been used to design and launch the Death Notification Service (DNS), an online portal that allows solicitors, executors and also friends and relatives or care workers to notify numerous UK financial institutions of a death. The service enables the user to log the death certificate reference number and select which organisations they wish to notify while the system itself is able to perform validation checks using sources such as the Experian credit agency to prevent fraud.
Ease of access
In all of these examples of self-service in case management, it’s the customer experience that is key to uptake. In addition to a clear design that can be reconfigured as needed, users need to have a seamless experience. For example, the case management solution must integrate with the organisation’s website to provide a frictionless customer journey and an inclusive customer interface must make it easy to access the service over any browser, any device, and from anywhere in the world.
Users are adept at using digital channels to access information and take action and it makes perfect sense to allow them to not only initiate but contribute and manage requests. Providing this level of autonomy is great for customer service and great for business, reducing the costs associated with customer management. Self-service has the power to transform how we engage with customers and citizens, making business more effective and efficient.