By considering the roles of both structured and unstructured interactions within business processes, organizations can digitally transform their client project operations holistically. Below, we will explore the difference between structured and unstructured interactions, their respective roles in business, and how to combine them for optimal results.
What are Structured Interactions?
Structured interactions are those that follow a set process or protocol. Because they are systematic and standardized, they can be automated to maximize efficiency.
Examples of structured interactions include form fills, signature requests, and task management workflows.
The frequency and routineness of structured interactions vary depending on the business. For some companies, such as e-commerce businesses, they may be used entirely for simple B2C transactions. For client service centric businesses like banks, law offices, or healthcare providers, they may be used for routine onboarding or specific business processes.
While structured interactions have their place, they aren't able to capture the ad-hoc escalations and conversations required for client centric organizations. This is why it's often important to supplement them with unstructured interactions, which we'll explore next.
What are Unstructured Interactions?
Unstructured interactions are free-form and flexible, with ample room for exploration, social learning, and human connection. Unlike structured interactions, these cannot be automated.
Unstructured interactions are critical for building strong customer relationships. For organizations that require personalized client attention such as real estate firms and educational institutions, and for those who need exception handling procedures, like logistics and sales, unstructured interactions are integral for service delivery.
Some examples of unstructured interactions include messaging, spot comments, calls, and meetings, all within the context of a structured process.
Unstructured interactions offer personalization. With these interactions, there's an opportunity to build rapport, establish trust, and show empathy that is crucial for high touch service providers.
Best Practices for Blending Structured and Unstructured Interactions
Both structured and unstructured interactions have their place in client centric businesses. From automation to personalization, the blending of both helps businesses create a seamless customer experience. Below are the best practices for blending the two types of interactions in digital strategy:
1. Use Automation for Routine Business Service Tasks
One of the best ways to blend structured and unstructured interactions is to use automation for routine business service tasks, or structured interactions, and thereby creating more time for teams to address and tend to customer relationships and personalization, or unstructured interactions .
2. Escalate When Necessary
There will be times when a client concern can’t be addressed with a structured interaction. In these cases, it is necessary to have an escalation procedure in place for representatives to attend to service needs with an unstructured interaction.
Understanding when to escalate is a vital part of providing seamless customer service while maximizing efficiency. Therefore, it's essential to have a transparent process in place, so your team knows when and how to escalate an issue.
2. Use a Digital Platform to Manage End-to-End Business Service Delivery
To blend structured and unstructured interactions as part of a comprehensive digital strategy, businesses need to be able to automate their repeatable business processes while blending those processes with ad-hoc escalations and client services. By combining interactions into an end-to-end experience, high touch organizations can control the chaos of delivering business services while bringing structure to client interactions that are stuck in fragmented silos.