By Craig Naylor-Smith, Managing Director – Finance & Administration.

Multiple sectors are moving further towards their clients or customers being able to interact with them digitally 24/7, this could be shopping online, completing an employment application, ordering a replacement bank card or requesting information.

Whilst business today is generally set up for 24/7 online interaction, and that’s nothing new, I’m starting to question whether as an industry we’re set up to support our clients’ requirements once the front end online process is complete.

Just because the front end is always on, is the infrastructure and intelligence that supports our clients’ customers request (the process behind the internet) being actioned in real time or the next business day? Could this influence the end customer’s experience?

Outsourcing and in particular BPO was born out of a completely different era compared to where we are today. The challenge is to service clients with entirely different requirements both now and in the future, especially as their needs become increasingly complex in an ever changing knowledge economy.

Take one of our new clients for example. We receive a process/action within seconds of their end customer completing a task or request.  The customer’s interaction can be at any point during a 24-hour period, and as a result, we now operate 24/7/365 to support them. The rise and shift of power to the consumer also means they expect an instant or at least a timely response as part of their experience. Instead of waiting for the more traditional “next business day,” we’re now witness to an always on environment, so why can’t it be actioned the same day?

As a result, we’re finding that our own business model is changing to support on demand processing and even more so knowledge generation which ultimately is enabling our clients to focus on their growth ambitions of tomorrow. However, I do also find myself asking has our industry got the right infrastructure in place to make this common place, not offshore, but onshore here in the UK.

While the front end of a lot of organisations such as retail, banking, insurance and finance are always on, the action required following this interaction i.e. the behind the scenes processes, are actually still very restricted. This is by either the receipt of a paper form, which also means they are reliant on core postal and working hours, or the receipt of a digital form or data set, processed the following morning when staff arrive at work to begin processing.

Why for example, if you complete a request online at 6pm, should this be picked up the “next business day?” What difference would it make to an organisation if their clients or customers were responded to within hours or minutes, what advantage would this create over their competitors?

It would be really interesting to see the value clients could unlock by adopting 24/7 real time knowledge processing and even more importantly how the level of insight could potentially shape end customer engagement.