By: Sally Schulte, Product Marketing Director at Smart Communications

Consumers today expect to do just about everything digitally — from filing an insurance claim and managing personal finances to making medical appointments. That’s why the move to digital-first customer interactions was happening even before the global pandemic, which threw digital transformation initiatives, like forms automation, into overdrive. In fact, a March 2022 IDC survey found that 71% of business are implementing a digital-first strategy due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts.  

As a result of this widespread digitization, enterprises must rethink customer engagement. The days of companies only offering one way for customers to communicate with them, usually involving paper, are long gone. Today, customers expect more. They want to be able to initiate interactions with a business, start and stop at their convenience and even switch between channels and devices without having to start over. That means enterprises need to make interactions two-way, digital and conversational. 

To meet customer expectations, many organizations have already adopted customer communications management (CCM) platforms. But one category of customer “communications” that companies often overlook, and under-optimize, is the form processes required to interact with them. Adding a forms automation solution enhances CCM efforts and fully optimizes the end-to-end customer experience (CX) by turning static, one-way processes into dynamic digital conversations.  

Investing in a smart forms automation solution can make a huge difference to CX. Digitizing forms-based processes is not just converting paper forms to fillable PDFs and putting them on a website.  True form process automation creates interactive, personalized experiences that consider known information, such as the customer’s personal details, medical history, insurance policy information and more. The digital journey should accommodate the end user’s timeline and device preference, letting them start on one device, leave, and pick up right where they left off on another.  

Most importantly, a strong forms automation solution ensures that enterprises collect the most accurate data from every interaction. When paired with a cloud based CCM solution, this allows businesses to deliver the most tailored, personalized interactions in real time. Let’s look at some of the ways web forms automation and forms management software can benefit CCM efforts and the business at large.     

Mitigate Risks for Data Breaches and Errors 

Many industries have long relied on paper forms for key operational processes — things like loan applications, insurance claims documentation and reimbursement for medical expenses. But paper forms bring inherent risks that can be avoided with digitization. Paper forms that are mailed in or scanned and attached to an email are much less secure than digital forms – running the risk of unauthorized access that exposes PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and can result in hefty fines and damage a company’s reputation. Paper forms, or electronic forms that are stored in a database or on a hard drive, can easily become compromised, lost or breached by hackers. And when completing forms manually, even minor clerical errors can significantly slow down customer service processes or, worse, prevent a needed service from being provided to a customer.  

Automated enterprise forms management helps businesses mitigate these risks. The data from digital forms can be easily transferred, stored and managed by existing core systems – aligning with any corporate data strategy. Choosing a cloud-first solution provides the added benefit of scale, reducing ongoing dependencies on internal IT resources. Process automation, including pre-population of forms with personal information pulled from existing core systems, minimizes the risk of errors, accelerating resolution and improving the overall customer experience.  

Regarding risk, it’s also important to discuss compliance regulations. With digital form content, business owned form processes can be quickly and easily updated with content that is impacted by changes to local or federal regulations—securing compliance. And overall efforts related to risk mitigation closely align with broader CCM initiatives by making sure businesses have the data they need to optimize CX, such as customer preferences. Partnering with a vendor that offers both CCM and forms automation software makes it possible to stay one step ahead, especially when regulations vary by region. Again, it’s about working SMARTER — not harder.  

Save Time and Money with Forms Automation 

It’s a simple fact that manual processes can be slow and time-consuming, and can be especially cumbersome when it comes to gathering and acting on customer data. With remote and hybrid work here to stay, digital forms increase workplace efficiency by eliminating the need for employees to re-key information from paper forms or, worse, take data entered in one system and have to manually enter it into another. A fully integrated, cloud-based solution means that team members across departments and locations are all working from the same information — no need to worry about someone making a decision based on outdated information by mistake. 

Automating forms-based processes is a win-win for both customers and business users. Transforming things like intake questionnaires, claims filing or loan applications into intuitive, guided digital experiences is faster, easier and much more secure. And it improves the employee experience because they’re not spending hours on the repeat tasks associated with manual, paper-based processes. Business users can get new projects to market faster and maintain existing projects quickly and easily. With the added flexibility forms automation provides, enterprises can reallocate and reduce the need for IT resources. Increased efficiency can even lower the cost of overtime, additional employees and other expenses related to manual forms management.  

Forms Automation Can Enhance Enterprise Customer Communications

The goal for enterprises today is to deliver digital, omnichannel communications at scale. Customers want to be able to get things done on their own time and their own terms. By combining a cloud-first CCM solution with a sophisticated forms automation solution, enterprises can empower customers to self-serve — when, where and how they prefer. Incorporating data from core systems in real time allows enterprises to deliver communications on the customer’s preferred channel quickly and efficiently. Plus, taking an adaptive interview approach lets businesses confirm previously known information while also collecting new data.  

This type of dynamic, two-way interaction leads to more personalized conversations that can be tailored to individual customer needs, making their lives easier. At the same time, it enables businesses to make data actionable and scalable, enhance communications and support faster resolution and decision making. 

Purpose-Built for Today’s Enterprise Needs 

At Smart Communications, we understand the importance of automating everything from basic tasks to sophisticated and complex processes. Our integrated solutions, including SmartIQ™ forms automation and SmartCOMM™ customer communications management, work together and connect to existing systems to deliver intuitive customer experiences and dynamic communications.  By bringing data together, enterprises can gain a complete, contextual view of customers and remove friction with a single, powerful CX ecosystem.   

Get in touch today to find out how SmartIQ enables enterprises to improve forms-based processes and empower interactive, two-way conversations.