In recent years, the financial industry has come under pressure from many angles. While income is pointing downwards as a result of market drivers and regulation, young FinTech start-ups pick elements of the customer journey and innovate heavily. AirPlus, a leading international provider of business travel management and payment solutions operating in over 50 countries, increasingly feel the pressure and decided to pioneer new ways of delivering products and services to customers.
Transforming into a 'Cloud First', 'Digital First' provider
AirPlus has been operating in a traditional and product-centric ecosystem. However, success in the modern marketplace requires companies to put customers at the centre of their operations and deliver excellent customer experience. This shift in focus was the key driver in the company's decision to launch a digital transformation program. It began the digital transformation journey by closely analysing its own operations and the products it delivers to its customers. Planning the course of the journey included designing customer personas, looking at customer behaviour and the actual value delivered to customers.
Based on the internal analysis AirPlus realized that one of the main challenges for the company was a lack of Omni-product, Omni-Channel processes. There were different product-specific systems in place to manage different touchpoints which means that the company needed to maintain different functional sets to serve different channels. This resulted in the fact that the customer experience could differ across products and channels.
'We are transforming AirPlus into a 'cloud first', 'digital first' business travel payment service provider. In order to achieve strengthen customer centricity throughout the organization we needed a central data repository for customer information and interactions,' says Christian Binderbauer, Lead Architect and Chief Product Owner. 'Another goal is to deliver products we currently sell and service through assisted channels only also via self-service channels, which will hugely improve efficiency and make them available to smaller companies.'
VeriPark delivers ready-to-use financial industry-specific processes
AirPlus selected the VeriPark solutions portfolio based on Microsoft Dynamics365 and Azure technology because of the unique set of functionalities it brings along. At its core, the solution delivers a platform that allows to channel services through different interaction touchpoints, thus eliminating the boundaries between assisted and unassisted channels. 'VeriPark's software adds a significant set of ready-to-use financial industry-specific processes. Modern cloud architecture fulfils state-of-the-art security requirements and helps speeding up delivery. Using Software As A Service (SAAS) is a safe and smart way of combining functional elements across boundaries - and it works.' says Binderbauer.
The transition to this delivery was not painless. Moving from a mainframe-centric architecture with a lot of inhouse development to a 'cloud user' with more than 95% of functionality and integration coming from industry-standard platform was tricky and full of surprises. Now, AirPlus successfully integrates customer relationship management and Omni-Channel delivery solutions to its new ecosystem aiming at leveraging cost and time-to-market advantages. 'VeriPark has teamed up with several other Microsoft partners for the digital transformation project including SiteCore for CMS (Content Management System), Pros (CPQ), Icertis (Contract Management), XperiDo (Document Generation) and InRule (Rule Engine)' says Wim Geukens, Managing Director of VeriPark Europe.
The solution will be used by up to 700 internal, 49,000 companies (i.e. 300,000 system users). Customer engagement features of the solutions will be used by AirPlus employees in sales and marketing departments as well as in customer service areas. At the same time, VeriPark products will provide customers with access to their services and products through the new AirPlus portals.
One process through all channels
AirPlus has ambitious goals for the new solution. 'A key driver for AirPlus is efficiency,' explains Binderbauer. 'If you have a process that can be delivered through multiple channels, there is one machine you build and maintain for several purposes.'
This also has a positive impact on time-to-market. 'Implementation of functionality currently happens in record time by the current standards of our organization.', says Binderbauer.
Customer interaction history at users' fingertips
AirPlus believes that the new solution will drastically improve its operations by eliminating numerous process workarounds and exceptions that resulted from a lack of legacy flexibility. Sales and customer service agents will have the entire customer interaction history at their fingertips allowing them to deliver improved service.
AirPlus foresees the implementation of VeriPark's 'Next Best Action' functionality to help agents determine what the most important thing is for the customer at a given point in time considering relevant circumstances. By supporting Next Best Actions with artificial intelligence, employees will have even better insight into customer behaviour, while, on the self-service portal, users can be taken on individualised journeys and improving their experience.
The final goal for AirPlus is to become a fully digital solutions provider. Customers can still choose to interact with the company in traditional ways while also having access to the advantages of the digital era, such as fully digital onboarding processes, digital signatures and digital delivery.
Here is an interview video with Christian Binderbauer, Lead Architect and Chief Product Owner at AirPlus International about AirPlus Business Transformation Project. You can also watch the long version here.