A “case” is any project, transaction, service or response that is “opened” and “closed” over a period of time to achieve resolution of a problem, claim, request, proposal, development or other complex activity. It is likely to involve multiple persons inside and outside of the organization, with varying relationships to each other, as well as multiple documents and messages.
What is Case Management?
Businesses and agencies in long-term relationships with their customers, citizens or subscribers will be judged by the accuracy of the records they hold, the consistency of the communications that take place, and the speed, efficiency and fairness with which each case, claim or contract is processed.
Delivery of customer service against these priorities has never been more challenging. Customers are more mobile in their addresses, jobs and family relationships. Communications channels seem to multiply overnight, with customers switching between them at will. Corporate messaging demands multi-channel distribution with increasing amounts of personalization.
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Mergers and acquisitions create multiple silos of customer-related data to be seamlessly joined. And products, business rules and government regulations change with alarming frequency. Against this backdrop, the demands on the IT systems to support smooth, efficient and integrated delivery are considerable, particularly where case-orientated transactions are involved.
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Customer interfaces may be dealt with in a CRM or help-desk system. Multiple relationships may be required, as any one case, contract or claim may involve more than one customer, knowledge worker or other contributor. These may be family members, professional practitioners, assessors, repair service providers, enforcement officers, etc.. Multiple communications channels between these participants may include web forms, letters, emails, faxes and outgoing print – and these days could extend to SMS messages, instant messages, social forums and even Tweets.
The case file itself will involve a collection of customer communications, forms, process documents, reports and supporting documentation, and will need to be managed for compliance and audit. This may best be handled by an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) or Document Management (DM) system, but the individual documents will need to be grouped together as part of the case file, and made accessible in a suitably controlled way to all who are involved in the case, including those at the customer interface. Finally, a workflow or business process needs to take place to move the case to its outcome. Within CRM systems, an alerts-style functionality will frequently exist against a given customer log, whereas in traditional DM systems, workflow may involve moving a given document through each process stage – probably in a serial manner. Neither is appropriate to a case management scenario where the focus is “the case,” not a customer or a single document. The process outcome is the successful resolution of the case. The participants may need to respond against given deadlines, and those involved in managing the case need to see progress reporting and action monitoring against the case.
The biggest motivations to improve case management capabilities are better process productivity and more effective internal collaboration, followed by higher quality customer service and lower compliance risks – the latter being particularly the case in financial services.
Looked at from this standpoint, a customer-centric CRM system may be at a disadvantage compared to a document-centric process management system. However, general purpose ECM and DM systems may lack the functionality and process flexibility needed to deal with case management, and integration with a CRM system may be needed to handle the communications aspects. Recent developments have introduced the concept of dynamic or adaptive case management within ECM systems, able to manage the case-process workflow in a flexible way, and able to link with multiple customer communications channels.
Email alerts are still a primary workflow driver for case management. More specific workflows through the ECM/DM system, the Help Desk or dedicated line-of-business solutions are each used in a quarter of organizations surveyed by AIIM, with 11% using CRM only. Only 10% use an integrated combination of ECM/DM and CRM.