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Ema Roloff of Naviant: “Enhanced Customer Experience”

Enhanced Customer Experience. A Digitally Transformed customer experience goes beyond a new website or a sleek app. It focuses on an integrated operating model that has the customer at the center. To truly transform your customer experience, you need to not only address front-end processes for sales and marketing, but you need to look at […]

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Enhanced Customer Experience. A Digitally Transformed customer experience goes beyond a new website or a sleek app. It focuses on an integrated operating model that has the customer at the center. To truly transform your customer experience, you need to not only address front-end processes for sales and marketing, but you need to look at how processes downstream are completed to ensure that you are delivering on your brand’s promises. If done correctly, McKinsey and Company report that organizations can recognize revenue increases up to 15 percent and simultaneously reduce costs.


As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ema Roloff.

Ema Roloff, and the team at Naviant, help organizations navigate Digital Transformation with Intelligent Automation, Process Mining, RPA (Robot Process Automation) and Content Services. As well, she is the creator and host of “Digital Transformation Talks” on YouTube and the co-creator of “The Third Thursday” on LinkedIn.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. Over the years, the subject I wanted to teach changed, but the idea of continually learning and educating others remained. After college graduation, I tried my hand at corporate training and got more interested in business. When it came time to open a new chapter in my career, I knew I wanted to take a step toward technology.

A career in technology proved to be a wonderful way for me to lean on my experience as an educator. Even though technology is all around us, I have found that many people still have questions and misconceptions about the driving forces behind Digital Transformation. In the last year, I have made it a goal to help demystify Digital Transformation and help companies understand how they can start taking steps toward the “future of work” now.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

During an early customer meeting, I was giving a presentation to explain our product’s Mobile applications and functionality. As I was speaking, I made up a word to try to explain what information and content was on the mobile application. Now, whenever possible, my coworkers still joke about me making up the word “mobily” while talking.

Of course, I was embarrassed, but the experience helped me understand something very important about our industry. The specific terms you use to describe something, even when they are made up, don’t necessarily matter as long as you stay focused on the customer’s desired outcomes.

The technology and Digital Transformation industry are infamous for using new and different terms to explain automation. When I am working with our customers to blaze the path for Transformation, I actually try to avoid using any of the technical terms for products or technology capabilities. Instead, I work to explain what outcomes the technology will help them achieve.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

When I was transitioning out of education and interviewing for new positions, my husband was instrumental in me looking to technology sales as a possible career. He helps remind me time and time again of the power of education within any industry, but specifically within the technology industry.

Beyond his encouragement, he acts as my own digital sales consultant now that we are sharing a home office. He is constantly being asked to watch my videos to make sure I am explaining concepts in a way that is valuable. He also helps brainstorm ideas of how to spread the word of Digital Transformation.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

As a child, I struggled to learn to read. I was in focused reading programs from first grade until sixth grade to work on getting my word recognition and comprehension up to grade level. This made school very difficult. It even made other subjects like Math, which I excelled in, difficult because I struggled to read the word problems that arose as I got older.

It may sound silly, but the Harry Potter series taught me the joy of reading and subsequently, learning. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the first novel I ever willingly read after being bribed to read the book before the movie came out. From that point on, I was a book worm. This joy for reading and learning propelled me to the top of my class in high school and college, and is a large part of my life to this day.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

Naviant was founded by Mike Suter almost 35 years ago from an entrepreneurial dream of owning a company where employees were a family — not just a number, and work-life balance was valued. Their vision of Naviant was to create a place where everyone has an opportunity to do well for themselves and their families, and enjoy a work-life balance. Mike’s priorities from early on were to take good care of the employees and the customers. By doing so, Naviant has built a strong reputation of customer satisfaction. As a result, we have been able to remain successful through both the good and the bad economic times.

Digital transformation was always at the heart of Naviant. Initially, we sold microfilm equipment to digitize files. Over the past 35 years, we have evolved ahead of the technology industry to help customers eliminate paper and build scalable, efficient processes.

Fueled by our success, Naviant has a robust program to give back to the communities we live in. Our corporate giving centers around the Boys and Girls Club and other charities that support food and housing inequity in our communities. Additionally, each employee receives funds to donate to their individual causes of choice. 2020 marked a record year of giving for Naviant.

Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

At the onset of COVID, I started a video series on LinkedIn and YouTube called “Digital Transformation Talks.” This project was born out of a desire to connect with others during COVID. I also wanted to help organizations understand how they can start or continue their Transformation journey.

Some of the discussions we have are on very specific areas of Transformation, such as “Why the ‘Why’ is so Critical to Successful Change Management. “Others are focused on specific categories of technology like RPA, Customer Communication Management, and Content Services. We also offer other resources that the team at Naviant is creating, like an interactive quiz to help companies identify their next step toward Transformation, and a monthly newsletter Through these efforts, I am working on making technology approachable.

My hope is that a business can lean on our resources regardless of the stage of Transformation they are in. Just getting started? Take a peek at our 60 second videos explaining terms like RPA and Process Mining. Are you more advanced and hoping for strategies of how to get the most value out of intelligent automation? Watch one of our in-depth interviews with leaders in the space.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is a very broad term that encompasses everything from technology platforms to less tangible concepts like culture and change management. A successful Digital Transformation is a strategic initiative that focuses on serving your digitally savvy customers and employees with new operating models driven by data and enabled by technology.

This is not simply digitizing your existing processes. A true Transformation focuses on streamlining processes, eliminating manual work, and creating a culture of innovation. Technology is used to shift the role of your team to higher-value tasks, and create scalable processes centered around delivering a better customer experience.

Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?

The short answer is everyone. If Transformation is done right, a company will adopt a model of continuous improvement, so even those that have “transformed” will always be looking for opportunities to improve and finding new benefits from leveraging technology.

The companies with outdated processes or the mindset of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” will be the ones to see the most tangible benefits of Digital Transformation. Companies that have not started their Digital Transformation journey will quickly lose their competitive edge if they haven’t already. Customer and Employee expectations have already shifted. In order to stay afloat, you need to adapt.

We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.

Naviant has been helping our customers improve their processes and manage their information more efficiently for over 35 years, so we have quite a few stories to share. Our approach to Transformation focuses on people and process first. We have a number of partnerships with industry-leading solutions that provide us with the tools needed to help optimize processes with functionality like content management, workflow, case management, robotic process automation, customer communication management, reporting and intelligent capture (OCR).

One of Naviant’s customers, a health payer, needed a way to accelerate processing for Medicare credentialing. Involving both its technical staff and its business users, Naviant and the customers deployed a solution in 17 weeks, creating a customized workflow for provider enrollment. Now paperless, the department reduced the cycle time from 90 business days down to 14 days. Fifteen months following the initial implementation, the customer began expanding the use of their solution across the organization, helping them to save $17 Million.

Additionally, a Software and Data Analytics firm that works with Naviant has recognized over $70 Million in savings, over the last 7 years, from gains in process efficiency and the ability to outpace headcount growth as the operations and transactions continued to grow. The customer uses content management, workflow and case management extensively across the organization and continues to find ways to leverage technology to improve their customer experience.

Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?

Proper planning, prioritizing, and change management are the largest hurdles companies encounter when looking to transform. Naviant’s engagement methodology provides our customers with expertise and guidance to think through their process, outline their goals, and map out how they are going to accomplish them.

Any vendor can come in, drop in a solution, and walk away. That is not Transformation. We work with our customers to align their Digital Transformation with the strategic goals of their organization, identify a road map for their journey, and design a solution blueprint that ensures everyone from the executives to subject matter experts are moving in the same direction.

Transformation takes times, and it may require you to pivot or adjust your approach throughout. This is why we take an iterative approach to project implementations. We work alongside our customers in Joint Application Development sessions that allow us to make modifications as needed along the way. This process allows the team to see the solution as it’s coming to life, provide feedback, generate excitement, and buy-in. As we move through testing and training, we focus on helping manage the change and adoption of the solution.

Technology is the easy part. People are what makes Transformation tricky. It is critical to develop a plan that helps you communicate openly about the changes that are happening, the successes of the program, and the pivots that have been made. But most importantly, make sure that your communication channels are two-way. Feedback is vital to user adoption. Listen to your team and understand what they need in a solution and what will make them the most effective in their roles.

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Here is a video outlining these five ways to use Digital Transformation-

1.) Increased Compliance and Mitigate Risk: When properly managing your documents, data, and processes, you can shift the burden of compliance from your team to the technology. The right type of tools can be configured to help you monitor and ensure that you have the proper documentation in place, alert you when processes are not operating effectively, and help make sure you have a pulse on your Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

For example, moving your solutions and processes to a managed cloud solution will allow you to rely on experts to manage the security of your information, monitor your solution, and regularly test for security threats, rather than needing those skill sets in-house.

2.) Reducing Cost with Increased Efficiency: Digital Transformation is the ticket to doing more with less. When you begin to use productivity management tools like workflow and case management applications, along with automating repetitive tasks with optical character recognition (OCR) or robotic process automation (RPA), you will find that your team is freed up to focus on what matters most. For instance, automation will allow the busy work to be completed in seconds or minutes rather than the time that it would take a human to complete it. The saved time is now available for “human tasks,” like exception management or customer service.

Naviant customers consistently recognize the benefits of increased efficiency. For example, the health payer, mentioned earlier, was able to repurpose 50 FTEs to higher value tasks and eliminate all overtime after implementing their solution.

3.) Data Driven Decisions: You may think you know your processes inside and out, but data can unlock insights hidden below the surface that allow you to make the right decisions about your business, rather than following what your gut tells you. Process mining tools and advanced reporting capabilities can help you capture information and provide detailed, data-driven insights into how processes are performing. This data can be used to create visual models of your process. This gives you to better understand what is really happening in a given process, including who did it, how long it takes, and how it departs from the average.

Data will help guide decision-making about which processes to automate and how to redistribute workloads based on actual data, with quantifiable process metrics, including cost, duration, and volume.

Using process mining helps you to get complete process visibility. It can accomplish this by using machine learning algorithms that identify every process and variant thereof. With this information, it creates a complete map of your processes, which makes it very easy to identify the most efficient variants and in turn, the best opportunities for automation that you may have otherwise overlooked. Using process mining on the front end of an RPA implementation can reduce the cost of implementation by 60%-70% by eliminating the time previously spent manually mapping business process.

4.) Improved Employee Experience. If you are still working in outdated systems, your employees are frustrated. This frustration contributes to a negative workforce experience, and that’s a problem. According to Deloitte, organizations with a positive workforce experience generated 12 percent higher customer satisfaction, and their three-year revenue growth rate was 2.3 times greater than the average.

5.) Enhanced Customer Experience. A Digitally Transformed customer experience goes beyond a new website or a sleek app. It focuses on an integrated operating model that has the customer at the center. To truly transform your customer experience, you need to not only address front-end processes for sales and marketing, but you need to look at how processes downstream are completed to ensure that you are delivering on your brand’s promises. If done correctly, McKinsey and Company report that organizations can recognize revenue increases up to 15 percent and simultaneously reduce costs.

In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?

If you truly empower your team to share ideas, try new things, and not be afraid to make mistakes, you will start to see the dividends quickly. Not every decision made, or option explored, will be successful when on a Digital Transformation journey. If you properly enable your team and make them feel valued on a cultural level, they can use those unsuccessful initiatives as an opportunity for growth. Every lesson learned and applied allows you to recalibrate your efforts and adjust expectations. Helping your team to understand the iterative process of true Transformation will help you maximize your innovation efforts and find new and inventive ways of working. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to collaborate with an experienced consultant to ensure you’re choosing the right path.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I was very close to my grandma and I frequently go back to a comment she made to me in college: “If this isn’t going to matter to you anymore a year from now, then forget about it now.” It helps me keep life in perspective and allows me to put my energy toward the things that actually matter.

When I feel myself getting worked up about a situation in my personal or professional life, I ask myself this question.

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can follow me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emaroloff/

And subscribe to Naviant’s YouTube Channel to stay up to date with the Digital Transformation Talks series: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6SuLOAIMS9cctQTa8m0vvQ

Additionally, to learn more about Digital Transformation and Naviant’s mission, visit our website: www.naviant.com

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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