With transformational leaders looking to improve their business operations, sometimes the soft gains are overlooked with employee morale and customer service.
Our workplace environment is important for not only doing the job and collaborating with others but also for the employees’ satisfaction. There are countless surveys about the best places to work and the best cities in which to work – but what really makes a good workplace is one that has carried the employees along with process improvement.
We used to be an environment heavy with paper. Mailrooms sorted a ton of paper and delivered it throughout the building. We graduated to electronic correspondence, but still habitual printing and copying created files of documents and rows and rows of file cabinets. Companies filled basements and warehouses with all of their records.
So when an employee needed to find something – it was a hunt. Individual files? File cabinets? Off-site storage? Where is the document that you need? Even a well-organized office could have a misstep in its organizational process and throw its employees into a tizzy looking for something. Can we not all relate to Nicolas Cage’s literary agent character Peter Loew in this snippet from the 1988 cult classic Vampire’s Kiss.
In an organization that has not looked into digitizing its information, employees lose important documents and frequently have a “meltdown,” especially if they cannot locate what is needed. Warehouses that catch fire destroy the records and the history of companies with burned up boxes, smoke and water damage.
Implementing a content management solution for the SMB (#workflow4smb) or the larger enterprise not only empowers companies and reduces their risk but also gives their employees a better work environment:
- They can retrieve documents easily.
- They can conduct an electronic search.
- They can find records stored in the cloud.
This reduces the frustration of hunting down missing material, and, for the company, there is less risk of loss.
Digitizing content makes the job easier for employees
Once the documents are digitized, they can be routed electronically for more efficient processing. Automating workflows mean the employee is not walking a paper file around for approvals or to share information, and there are not multiple versions of a document. The flow is efficient, people are accountable and documents cannot get lost. The employees who found that they were locked into these repetitive processes suddenly have more time to learn new tasks, work with a mentor and manage staff – a better use of their time.
Automated workflows enable resources to be redirected to high-value tasks
For a company, this soft value may be hard to quantify, but clearly can be observed. Managers in the departments that have adopted content management protocols can attest to the improved morale of the teams freed from their tedious tasks. Employees who were involved in the tedium can take on more interesting and meaningful work. Thus, management is better able to utilize its talent and employees are given greater challenges within their positions.
Reduced office frustration signals a cultural transformation
Millennials are helping us change the conversation.
From hiring millennials, we have seen the need to adjust our workplace habits. Think about one of your current internal processes today: your purchase order process. From requesting a number to processing the invoice, how involved do you have to be in the process? Is it manual or automated?
Now think of the look on the face of a new employee learning the process. Not automated? Really?
What about the customer?
If your employees are feeling the pain of manual processes and paper – then your customers are, too. I can’t tell you how many times I get a clipboard with a stack of paper attached when I show up at a doctor’s office for an appointment. “Don’t you have electronic forms?” I ask.
Re-filling out information that should have been saved electronically from my last visit and available for approval/updating is what I expect. Signing electronically is what I expect. Moving from different areas of a hospital with integrated patient information so it follows me around the complex is what I expect. I expect to fill out paperwork once. This future is today and businesses that are not up to speed are at a disadvantage – for the preferred patient or customer or student experience.
- Self-service at the grocery is fast
- Signing into a website – that prefills all my data – is heaven
- Using Apple Pay at a restaurant or to pay a friend is convenient
You will note that I did not say “frustrating.”
Now, take a look at how you treat your customers. For B2B, how is that billing &and payment process? Totally electronic? For B2C, how is that customer experience at your location and on your website? Do you make it easy to do business with you?
Frustrated customers will stop doing business with you
With electronic data, your customer service team can better handle calls from customers by pulling up customer data while on the phone or while website chatting with them. You can tell them about their last transaction, pending claim or date of payment. At the click of a button, you can send them an email copy because you have that information on their account.
“Can’t you look that up?” I ask.
No longer will the customers be saying “Can’t you look that up.” Making calls on the commute home or driving around for errands, you can provide the best service to the customer because you have the information access and the customer’s history. And, you will not increase the customer frustration level asking them for information along their service journey.
Information is king if you have access when you need it.
Digitizing your operations will help with efficiency and productivity within your organization, but the byproduct of all the technological improvements is how your work environment adapts and changes. Your transformation is not only an operational change, but it is a cultural change.
As the business leader, you can think beyond the initial effects of your transformation and focus on the residual effect. What more can be done for your employees – what are your employees’ pain points? What more can be done for your customers – what does your research tell you?
If you have not looked at the qualitative benefits of upgrading your systems and how you manage your information – then you are missing out on the full value of a content management solution for your operation. It should be your operational imperative to embark on the changes that ECM technology has to offer for both qualitative and quantitative improvements.
This will make for a better workplace in the future.
Joanne E. Novak
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