Best Practices for Implementing a Customer Self-Service Solution

Many enterprises, including health-care insurance providers, are attempting to move toward a real-time enterprise that uses up-to-date information in the execution of its critical business processes. Reducing time is the goal, which results in less expense, more rapid collection of cash and increased customer satisfaction. In approaching real-time status, for health-care insurance providers to invest in Web initiatives is not uncommon. However, the health-care organization can’t forget the need to enhance and leverage its back-end systems to support external customer relationships. This is one of many best practices Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Minnesota followed when implementing a customer self-service solution. CIO John Ounjian did what he was supposed to do in that he emphasized integration of front- and back-office data, and he was data conscious?he knew where the data was coming from, where it was going, how it was going to be used. Here are five other best practices that BCBS of Minnesota adhered to, which you can also use.

1. Make sure customers really want Web self-service. No organization should invest in a customer self-service initiative without first surveying its customers to find out what they really want.

2. Conduct website usability and usefulness tests. Although the Web is an ideal place to serve customers, you must care to ensure that self-servers are not driven to more costly and potentially less satisfying service channels such as call centers because of a poor self-service experience.

3. Integrate the system with CRM. The best customer service implementations use a centralized architecture where all interaction channels are serviced equally and quickly. Implementing a Web self-service system without considering how to work with existing CRM systems will create additional integration work.

4. Keep the website content current. When trying to automate customer service, organizations need to ensure that the applications and knowledge base provided via the Web have the right information, at the right time. This means that systems need to be constantly updated.

5. Don’t focus on buying a mega-CRM solution. Smaller, tactical-oriented solution deals are now more prominent than the "one solution does it all" mega-solutions. This model is less expensive to implement and provides organizations with more control over how and what their CRM solutions do.

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