When People, Process & Technology Align

Businessman holding in hand a global connection,communications concept

 

Customer service is the heart of any organization; happy customers mean brand loyalty, a healthy bottom line and a wide horizon for growth. Outstanding customer service requires successful alignment of three key components: people, process and technology (PPT).  The next three paragraphs describe each of these components, with some of the common challenges associated with each, and some suggestions about developing a comprehensive customer service program without breaking the budget.

People. Customer service is the ultimate people business. You need smart, articulate, flexible, creative people on your team, with a broad range of conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.  Unfortunately, many aspects of customer service are repetitive, time-consuming and boring. Without ways to utilize their most important talents, skilled customer service representatives (CSRs) often burn out and move on. Minimizing the amount of time spent doing routine tasks and maximizing the time spent helping customers will help you retain your best CSRs and attract the kind of new hires you need. In addition, you can learn a lot from your best CSRs about how to improve their job satisfaction.  Treating them as the experts in their field–which they are–can open new insights into streamlining their workflows and making the best use of their talents.

Process.  If it’s hard to keep your top CSRs because of the high number of routine, repetitive tasks, it’s time to look at your customer service process.  How do your CSRs document their calls? How do they identify problems, take orders, troubleshoot product malfunctions and resolve disputes? Are these procedures fast, efficient and easy to remember? Could they be automated to save time and reduce errors? Are CSRs involved in designing and implementing new procedures? If CSRs are the actors in your customer service theater, the process is the play they’re performing. It needs to highlight their talents, shore up their weaknesses and bring out the best they have to offer.  Pairing top-notch CSRs with effective, service-focused processes will make your customers applaud!

Technology.  Technology, from the pencil to the tablet computer, is the bedrock of your customer service toolkit.  In the theater analogy, technology is the stage, supporting both the actors and the script. You want it to be simple, intuitive and reliable. Your CSRs want it to be efficient and accurate so they can spend their time helping customers instead of struggling with technical glitches.  Your customers want it to be tailored to their needs so that their calls go quickly and smoothly. As technology advances, new tools are available to support every aspect of customer service, from language translation to order entry to quality reporting. With the right array of tools, your CSRs will feel empowered to do what they do best–make your customers happy,

Customer service teams are often underfunded, which makes it difficult to implement large-scale improvements. By breaking down your operation into the three components of PPT, however, you can identify changes that are moderate in cost but have a big impact on your team’s performance.  A third-party vendor may be able to help you prioritize your needs and help you visualize the solutions you need.  Manual processes that your CSRs find tedious or vulnerable to error may be streamlined into automated, paperless versions that in turn yield detailed reports. Decreased time spent in documentation will free up your CSRs to focus on your customers–and significantly reduce your call wait times.

If you are looking for ways to improve your customer service performance, download this detailed white paper to see how a comprehensive PPT approach may fit your needs.

Meet Lisa – Customer Service Representative | Esker Order Processing

 

Lisa has a great deal of responsibilities as a customer service rep – she juggles many tasks all while managing the growing and demanding needs of her customers. Yet she still spends hours manually entering orders. These days customers expect more and CSRs should be free to focus on what’s most important – customer service.

 

Meet Michael – Controller | Esker Accounts Payable

 

Michael oversee’s the accounts payable department – him and his team have a lot to do with little time to do it. Michael faces challenges such as poor cash flow visibility, delayed approvals & late payments, missed discounts, and lack of tracking & reporting.

 

Meet James – Supply Chain Leader | Esker Order Processing

 

Most supply chain leaders like James are struggling with ways to improve organizational performance and overall customer experience. James understands the ability to process orders faster and more accurately directly effects supply chain.

Mobile Requisition & Invoice Approval App | Esker Anywhere

 

Financial professionals are expected to perform with speed, accuracy, and accessibility. In a workplace where everything was needed yesterday and instant 24/7 availability and access is becoming the norm – mobile adoption in any solution is a necessity.

Meet Susan – Life Science Industry Customer Service Representative | Esker Order Processing

 

Susan has her MBA and is a customer service representative in the Life Science industry. She faces unique challenges in this industry and recognizes the importance of accuracy in her position. But she is frustrated most of her time is spent manually entering sales orders.

Learn More:

http://www.esker.com.au/solutions/sales_order_processing/

 

Digging for Data: Four Essential Accounts Payable KPIs

Only 15% of businesses track their metrics using technology like dashboards that display key data, a 2015 IOFM study found. What gives?

Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) are the bread and butter of process improvement initiatives — revealing important data about core activities in accounts payable (AP) and propelling your project from concept to reality. The nature of this information is essential, as it pinpoints problem areas and can help guide companies looking to transform their AP department into a best-in-class performer.

Four Essential Accounts Payable KPIs to Follow

  • Number of invoices processed per employee per day
    There’s no definitive market average for this KPI due to the many factors that play a part in this calculation, but you can bet your bottom dollar that this is one metric you should be following. Once you are, make sure to communicate your expectations with employees and allow them to provide input to ensure you’ve set attainable goals.
  • Average number of invoices received containing exceptions
    According to a 2015 Ardent Partners study, more than 1 in 6 invoices received by the average business result in an exception. This represents a significant portion of AP staff time spent solving exceptions and clearing the invoice for re-entry into the workflow. In a manual environment, exceptions are yet another obstacle that AP departments must overcome.
  • Average cost per invoice
    A lot is involved in the total cost to process an invoice (e.g., copying and follow-up, IT support, staff salaries, etc.). A 2015 PayStream Advisors study found that the average all-inclusive cost for an organization to process a single invoice manually is $40.70. If you don’t know how much you’re paying to process an invoice, you’re most likely paying too much.
  • Average invoice processing speed
    A 2015 study by Ardent Partners found that the market average for processing a single invoice was 11.4 days. Meanwhile, the very same study found that best-in-class companies (i.e., ones who use automated workflow tools to drive their AP process) took an average of only 3.6 days to process an invoice. Why’s it matter? The longer it takes to process an invoice, the more likely you’re losing money on late payment fees, missed discounts and low staff productivity.

What to Do When the Digging’s Done

  1. Analyze
    Take a close look at the metrics you have gathered and analyze why the numbers are what they are and the consequences it may have on other parts of the process (even beyond AP). If you spot a continuous problem, dig deeper into surrounding metrics to find out what may be causing it.
  2. Make a plan
    What’s the plan, Stan?! Having the data at hand is all well and good, but now you need to create an action plan. After analyzing everything, you should have a better idea of what’s causing problems and possible remedies. Ask the team for their thoughts on how to better the process, they can provide insight in areas you aren’t as familiar with.
  3. Evaluate effectiveness
    A few months after implementing your plan, make sure to go back and review the latest numbers to see if you’re headed in the right direction. Like any project, you may have to do some fine-tuning before experiencing the results you’re looking for — don’t let it discourage you.

Numbers don’t lie. Solid metrics can be leveraged in business cases for process improvement initiatives such as AP automation. With the ultimate goal of running an efficient, well-oiled AP department, KPIs are the transformative tool that can you get your process to that point.

Want more information on important accounts payable KPIs to track? Read our eBook on it here.

Accord Healthcare Saving 140 Hours Per Month on Order Processing with Esker’s Automation Solution

Sydney, Australia — February 2, 2017Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Accord Healthcare, a leading generic products pharmaceutical company, to automate the company’s order management processes. With Esker’s cloud-based order processing automation solution, Accord Healthcare has reduced the time it takes to process an order from three minutes to 80 seconds — saving 140 hours per month and freeing up its customer service representative (CSR) teams to spend more time on higher-value tasks.

 

Accord Healthcare receives 5,000 orders each month, 85 percent of which arrive by fax and email, and the rest by electronic data interchange (EDI). These orders had previously been processed manually (excluding EDI) and required Accord Healthcare to add more staff to handle increasing volumes. Thanks to Esker, Accord Healthcare is now able to process all orders from a single interface, and its customisable dashboards allow CSR teams to monitor daily activities and order statuses, enabling them to make strategic decisions, prioritise tasks and allocate resources based on peak business activity.

Not long after implementing Esker, Accord Healthcare was able to:

  • Save 140 hours per month via faster, more efficient order processing
  • Increase workflow visibility to 100 percent (e.g., orders to approve, orders pending, etc.)
  • Reduce low-value order entry tasks and the associated errors
    Improve customer response time thanks to instant access to information

“Esker represents a customer service guarantee from a responsiveness standpoint: even if a CSR is temporarily unavailable or on vacation, order processing will not be delayed,” said María Carmen Cano, customer service manager at Accord Healthcare, Spain. “We are more efficient thanks to the complete visibility we have over our order process and the reduced time it takes to process each order. Our CSR teams have more time for customer service and are able to deliver more personalised service.”

About Accord Healthcare

 

Accord Healthcare is a fully owned subsidiary of Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a leading Indian pharmaceutical company created in 1976. Headquartered in London, Accord Healthcare manages Intas’ European activities with a presence in over 30 European markets. It has rapidly become one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies dedicated to the research, development and commercialisation of generic products.

 

 

 

 

Esker Named to Food Logistics’ 2016 FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers List

Sydney, Australia — February 2, 2017Food Logistics, the only publication exclusively dedicated to covering the movement of products through the global food supply chain, has named Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, to its 2016 FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers list. 

The FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers (http://www.foodlogistics.com/article/12285892/the-2016-fl100) list serves as a resource guide of software and technology providers whose products and services are critical for companies in the global food and beverage supply chain.

“The software and technology sector continues to generate new and exciting opportunities for growers, food manufacturers, grocery retailers and the many logistics providers that support them,” notes Lara L. Sowinski, editorial director at Food Logistics. “Today’s cloud-based solutions and mobile connectivity are helping create tools that are more flexible, affordable and responsive, making software and technology even more valuable to those in the global food supply chain.”

Esker’s cloud solutions allow food and beverage companies to cut costs by automating manual tasks via one integrated platform. Increasing industry pressures have many companies seeking to lower operational costs and maintain supplier relationships. These companies are directly impacted by errors that occur in order processing due to increased costs from incorrect shipments, returns and lost goods. Esker helps manufacturers and distributors manage the supply chain without paper-based documents such as fax and postal mail, creating easier access to documents and reducing costs with fewer manual tasks. Supplier relationships are also improved when orders are on time, correct and can be accessed in real-time if questions arise.

“We provide a simple solution that streamlines business processes for wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers in the food and beverage industry,” said Steve Smith, U.S. chief operating officer at Esker. “We strive to deliver the most value by giving organisations the ability to cut costs and improve supplier relationships, and consider it a significant achievement to be recognised as a top technology provider and resource in this industry.”

About Food Logistics

 

Food Logistics is published by AC Business Media, a business-to-business media company that provides targeted content and comprehensive, integrated advertising and promotion opportunities for some of the world’s most recognised B2B brands. Its diverse portfolio serves the construction, logistics, supply chain and other industries with print, digital and custom products, events and social media.

 

 

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