It may sound like a cliché but the old saying that the customer is always right remains the cornerstone for many businesses.

Originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, it was the motto to promote good customer service at the Selfridge’s department store. Fast forward 106 years to the digital era today, customer service embodies so much more than service with a smile.

Customer service experiences today are increasingly judged on the timeliness of the interaction, less on its final outcome. In other words, giving the ‘right’ answer to customers is no longer good enough, if response time is slow.

As customer service becomes the channel for businesses to win loyalty, consumers realise they have the advantage to be more aggressive in response to poor customer interactions. By this, we don’t necessarily mean the tone or language, but in the multitude of communications channels in which customers can now provide feedback.

With communication coming in hard and fast from all directions – emails, letters, social media, in-store, online, call centre – it is hardly surprising that businesses are struggling to keep up.

Challenged with information overload, businesses need an efficient way to prioritise the flow of communication. Digital mailroom technologies offer an intelligent and efficient way for customer-oriented organisations to manage inbound communication.

Dealing with low satisfaction level and a rise in ‘media stacking’

The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) reported record low satisfaction with levels not seen since 2010. In the same report, it revealed that 41 per cent of consumers had to escalate issues they had complained about – the highest proportion since January 2012.

Nearly three in 10 consumers would use social media to embarrass businesses into resolving a complaint. Of which, 99% of respondents often use two or more devices simultaneously, in what is commonly known as ‘media stacking’ to pile on the pressure for faster response or more favourable outcome.

Clearly, many businesses are still not equipped to handle the growing volume of customer communication. To gain competitive edge, it is imperative for businesses to focus not just on transactions, but building customer loyalty through better relationships.

Faster reaction improves customer experience

Organisations spend enormous time, resources and operational costs on manual pre-processing, sorting, prioritising and distributing the ever-increasing amount of inbound communication through various channels, including email, paper documents, fax and increasingly social media.

This is a cost-intensive process and often error-prone, with organisations unable to accurately monitor and control the flow of customer communication throughout. One negative review of poor customer experience can turn prospective buyers against the brand.

Organisations dealing with high volumes of customer communication can implement a fully automated input management solution to help employees prioritise the flow of information and ensure it reaches the right department in a timely manner.

Not only will this significantly improve business productivity. Customer service team can also benefit from the automated input management feature, ensuring they have the relevant customer and product information at hand to provide an instant response or recommendation.

Take an airline company as an example. Typically, it will receive thousands of correspondence through various channels from around the world. A mailroom automation solution would ensure every piece of inbound email communication is verified with an automatic reply to the sender to acknowledge it has been received.

Smart readers can classify the content of each document, even for unstructured documents like images or scanned PDFs, and route them accordingly to the right team for instant processing. Once the action is complete and the case is closed, the system will archive the document for legal and compliance purposes, complete with appropriate meta tagging for easy search and recovery at a later date.

In the case of media stacking, the mailroom solution will identify repeat communication from the same sender – either by the name, reference number or invoice number. The system can be pre-set to alert employees that this is now escalated to an urgent action for immediate response.

By automating customer communication procedures, organisations can benefit from faster reaction and decision-making processes, lower operational costs, and increased productivity. Customers will be more satisfied with an enriched interaction and benefit from a better experience with the brand.

By Markus Pichler, Director of Solutions Business at ABBYY