What Is the Role of Information Management in Customer Experience?
There are two things you should know about me. The first is that I love to eat. I have an appetite that was once described as “alarming.” In my teenage years, I would kick back and devour an entire large pizza in one sitting. As I grew older, I refined my pallet and developed a desire for quality ingredients and a craving for a variety of flavors.
The second thing you should know is that I hate to cook.
Reconciling these two opposing truths led me to the Hello Fresh website one hungry evening, which promised to "take the stress out of mealtime." Hello Fresh is a meal kit delivery service that allows you to select a menu from dozens of unique dishes. Each week, you’ll get a box of fresh ingredients delivered to your door and step-by-step instructions on how to prepare each meal.
Was this the answer to my kitchen nightmares?
My only goal at this stage was to explore my options. However, Hello Fresh’s website was so frictionless that I found myself entering in my credit card information before I knew it.
✅ A website that’s easy to navigate and answers all of my questions.
A few days later, a box arrived at my front door. As I unpacked it in a manner resembling a greedy toddler at Christmas, I was greeted by an unwelcome ingredient - a red bell pepper.
Oh no! I had mistakenly ordered a pasta dish that contained peppers, despite my girlfriend being allergic. I must have been drooling over the picture on the website when I should have been carefully reading the list of ingredients.
I hopped back on the Hello Fresh website to see if I could order another meal for the week. I navigated to the live chat feature and explained my mistake to the support representative and that I was more than happy to pay for another meal to be shipped. I was told that they couldn't ship a new meal kit out to me for the current week but that they would refund me the cost of the meal I received. I reiterated that the error was 100% my fault and that it wasn’t necessary for them to do that, but they went ahead and refunded me anyway.
✅ Next-level customer service.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I had a remarkable customer experience with Hello Fresh, and now I expect to have just as good an experience with your organization.
At this point, you might be saying, "Hey, that’s not fair! We're not a meal kit company." It doesn't matter. Today's consumers don't view companies through the same lens of industry, geography, or size that they used to. If Hello Fresh has an easy-to-use website and home run customer service, your shared customers are going to expect the same from you. It doesn’t matter if you’re an insurance company, local government agency, or something else.
Customer Experience Is at the Heart of Every Digital Transformation
Back in 2017, AIIM concluded that at the heart of every Digital Transformation journey was the need to understand, anticipate, and redefine internal and external customer expectations. Research conducted by Forbes the following year affirmed our work and our conclusions, adding that true Digital Transformation leaders are those that make it EASY to do business with.
In tapping into the AIIM end-user community, we found impressive examples of that philosophy at work in leading organizations like Farmers Insurance, Ogilvy, and UnitedHealth Group. These organizations had already realized what the Forbes concept of EASY meant. They must enhance or simplify our customers’ lives and we must be able to deliver those products in the way that our customers want to consume them.
In 2020, the pandemic-induced customer demand for convenience, speed, and availability quickly revealed which businesses were able to satisfy their customers and which ones were not. Now, two years later, the customer expectations bar continues to rise.
Executives in every industry sector feel this pressure, and they are motivated by it. It’s no wonder that they throw their support and financial resources behind those activities tied to the higher-order goals of innovation, revenue, and profitability, driven by customer demand and loyalty.
Information Management’s Role in the Customer Experience
If this endgame is obvious, why do information management professionals still find it difficult to pursue the information-centric activities that will achieve it?
AIIM research conducted in early 2021 exposed the lingering weak points in most organizations' information management and information governance strategies and practices. The study’s overarching conclusion was that there is still a sizable disconnect in most organizations between the information management strategy and the business strategy.
In fact, we asked the AIIM community to assign a grade to their respective organizations when it comes to the effective linkage between the two. Overall, respondents in last year’s survey gave their organizations an alignment grade of C-. Yikes!
A strongly implied reason for the disconnect was that no senior leader was given the highest enterprise-level responsibility for information management. Similar feedback cited the dismissive role/status of information overall in organizations – that it isn’t currently perceived as a key enterprise asset to be valued.
In attempting to offer more actionable and operationalizing advice, we urged the community to stop looking at information management solely through a tactical cost minimization filter. Rather, we said, they should adopt a broader, holistic, and multidisciplinary approach to assess and balance both risk and value of information. Now, a full year later, we see only incremental improvement in the overall status of information management/governance in business. That sobering revelation forced us to question whether last year’s conclusions and advice were too broad, too idealistic, and too neglectful of the critical cornerstone of our mission.
And so, in February of this year, we asked community members to consider again the grade they’d give their organizations when it comes to executive alignment of information management/governance strategies and business strategies.
We probed the different mindsets and approaches of those who have remained at the status quo or worse versus those who have seen improvement.
This is where things got interesting – yet should have been obvious before. The difference in outcomes directly depends on the degree to which customer experience is the goal and the focus of information management efforts!
We believe that the data in our latest report, The State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry 2022, sheds important light on how we tend to lose sight of this reason for our practice and why. It highlights four important findings that information management/governance professionals and their stakeholders should consider if they want to fully leverage their most powerful asset (information) to fuel their digital transformation journey – with a singular focus on customer experience:
- The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Despite good intentions, we can’t seem to get out of our risk/compliance comfort zone;
- An information management/governance program focused on risk/regulations/compliance fails to move the needle in the right direction;
- Leveraging information for improved customer (internal and external) experience is the mantra adopted by those organizations reporting good and improved information management/business alignment;
- A holistic approach is ideal. However, a focus on information access, process automation, and data extraction/analysis is the most effective way to fully leverage customer-centric Intelligent Information Management capabilities for immediate, incremental wins.
You can learn more about these findings and our recommendations in the The State of the Intelligent Information Management Industry 2022 report.