Interview with Aurélien Didier, Project Manager in charge of the software development department at exigo. With 10 years experience in software development, he explains us the importance of digital customer services and the best strategy to adopt to implement them.
What do digital customer services cover?
Digital customer services are a set of tools and communication channels a company offers to customers (or potential customers) in order to give them the opportunity to contact the company directly, visualise and manage their data. The most common channels are online portals (to manage bank accounts/loans, insurance policies/claims, internet/phone subscriptions…) and mobile apps.
Why end customers love that much those services?
I see two main reasons:
- First of all they work well and bring added value. The time where digital services were just marketing gadgets working on a small percentage of devices is over. The technology has brought the solution, fast Internet everywhere, phone’s camera quality, a geo-location service in every phone/web browser and also programming frameworks, optimized user interfaces…
- Second reason is lifestyle. People want to be able to access and manage information anytime, anywhere. It means when they want or when they can, and this does not always match with call centers or front offices opening hours.
It’s indeed very customer oriented, what is the interest for companies?
- The first one is of course customer’s satisfaction, I don’t know a company that doesn’t want to make its customers happy and that’s what digital services do. People don’t mind anymore changing bank, insurance or network provider depending on several criteria. The digital customer services became one of them and having such a strategy allows companies to gain new customers and keep the one they have.
- Inside the company it increases the quality of operations, reduces mistakes, allows tracking and archiving required by regulators…
So what is the challenge? Why do companies call you?
If it’s simple for the end user, it’s often a complex system that needs to be secure and compliant regarding the law and regulations that apply especially to banks and insurances. We intervene either at the very beginning of a project (setting it up and driving it) but we are also called to step in on-going projects in troubles, we operate as advisors, project managers, business analysts and technical experts.
The recurring topics are:
- Strong authentication
- Integration with other systems (core system, payment interfaces…)
- Data confidentiality
- Data protection
- Flexibility for changes
How do you proceed concretely?
Over the years I’ve seen the evolution of the market and customers’ needs that’s why I have opted for Continous Delivery in a DevOps culture. This is how I work for a long time and this is the strategy I’ve put in place for the software department, our consultants have this culture, it works well for many types of development and especially applies to digital services.
The idea is to always have something working. We start secure and simple and deliver often improvements and fixes based on feedbacks until the scope is entirely covered. The customer is more involved therefore the quality is increased as it matches acceptance criteria. As the customer can see immediate results it brings more trust and willingness to have a long-term vision and this is important from a planning perspective (for resources and procurements).
The DevOps culture helps us being pragmatic and efficient. Depending on the customer’s needs we recommend a set of processes & tools (GitHub, Nagios, Jenkins, Docker…). I personally give a bigger importance to the culture itself, the communication and team spirit between Development, Operation and QA is the key to frequent releases.
Regarding the project management, I see more and more that our customers expect project managers to be the bridge between business and IT. Therefore depending on the size of the projects and the size of organizations we have this hybrid role of Project Manager/Business Analyst and I have to say that it works well. We continuously develop our business skills (finance, insurance…) to match the best customers’ expectations.
Our customers are happy of this strategy as it reduces costs, improves speed and reactivity and this with reliable local resources.
Sounds like software development is in your blood?
I’m passionate about software engineering in its entirety (from analysis to delivery with of course all the project management associated) and the power it has at the service of a company. If you combine the technical challenge with the satisfaction of helping people/companies it’s very exciting.