We are excited to share a blog post from SlimPay today. This post features an infographic on the history of payment methods that evolved alongside civilizations.
We are excited to share a blog post from SlimPay today. This post features an infographic on the history of payment methods that evolved alongside civilizations.
We all know the feeling. It’s certainly happened to me on more than one occasion.
There you are watching television, flipping through a magazine or checking your online news feed when, suddenly, you come across an urgent message about … [cue loud, menacing music] … THE DANGERS OF STRESS.
Naturally, processing this bit of “helpful” information only makes you more stressed out about how often you’re needlessly stressing out. A slice of deliciously cruel irony if there ever was one.
But let’s be honest: When put in perspective, the stressors of the average person are fairly trivial. Most of us live in general equanimity compared to, say, what a typical Customer Service Representative (CSR) contends with on a daily basis. It’s not a coincidence that the average turnover rate for CSRs in the U.S. is 33% — nearly double what the average turnover rate is among all professions.
These statistics are not lost on today’s forward-thinking companies.
As business leaders shift their focus to more value-added strategies such as customer experience improvement, the link between CSR burnout and business profitability has become painfully clear. After all, it costs a lot of money to find, hire and train new employees. The question is, can anything significant really be done about a department that’s long been synonymous with high-stress and high-turnover rates?
When looking at how order processing automation fits into a customer service environment, the answer appears to be a resounding “Yes.”
Although stress can be a positive and motivating force in small doses, the long-term activation of the body’s stress-response system opens the door to some pretty serious health issues: It can alter mood, memory and sleeping patterns; it can contribute to headaches, heart disease, and musculoskeletal disorders; and, it can even affect how a person’s genes express themselves!
Unfortunately for many CSRs, prolonged exposure to stress is all in a day’s work. When they’re not fielding calls from needy customers, CSRs can be found performing the mind-numbing task of hand-entering order data into their department’s ERP system or hunting down a lost document. And, when a mistake is made and the arrows of blame start to fly, you can bet that the biggest targets hang on the backs of CSRs.
These types of stressors are so prevalent in environments that rely on manual and paper-based processes that they’re often just accepted as “part of the deal.” Thankfully, more businesses are waking up to the fact that this is not a sound strategy.
A stressed-out CSR team ultimately leads to larger issues. The big two being:
Now, I know what you may be thinking: How can automation — something that’s often feared by CSRs as a job replacer — be the key to reducing their tension and avoiding the subsequent fallout? It’s all about equipping them with the right tools to succeed …
Too many managers make life harder for their CSRs by setting them up for failure. If a banana was the only tool a team of carpenters had to pound nails with, it’s fair to say that frustration and cynicism would soon follow. The right tools can make all the difference.
Below are the four biggest stress-busting benefits automation offers CSRs:
Workplace stress is a serious health issue that we’ve all experienced in varying degrees. And while measures like exercise, meditation and self-affirmation techniques can be employed at an individual level, in specific cases (i.e., CSRs), a more holistic solution is needed. What sets order processing automation apart is its ability to go beyond simply treating the symptoms of CSR stress and actually address the underlying root causes.
So, to all the businesses stressing out over how to solve their customer service problems, relax. Take a deep breath. It’s nothing a little automation can’t solve.
If there’s one business aspect that most organizations understand the importance of but don’t spend enough time improving, it’s customer service.
Since my first home-buying experience last year, I have experienced more poor customer service than I could have ever predicted. From smaller instances of companies not responding to requests for information to extremely frustrating occurrences of workers simply not showing when scheduled. Every time left me wondering “do they really not need the business?”
Many companies seem to believe that a single bad customer experience only impacts business with that company or person. Nothing could be further from the truth. The impact of poor customer service is like an iceberg in that it is far greater than what you see at first. Not only do unhappy customers end up going elsewhere with their business, but most report their mishaps to other potential customers — causing companies greater loss of potential revenue.
Taking a pro-active approach to customer service is the best way to ensure customer happiness and business prosperity. If your customer service department displays any of the following behaviors, it’s time to rethink the way you do business and the people you hire to communicate with customers.
Don’t let poor customer service sink your company. Begin evaluating your customer service efforts and building a plan for improvement. And remember: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” (Bill Gates).
When there’s an error in order entry, it can wreak havoc on your billing and collections team. If one of your customer service representatives makes a mistake, it can disrupt your supply chain, increase returns and complaints, and delay payment. Although customer service may seem a world away from accounts receivable, your organision needs them to work together like a well-oiled machine. Eliminating manual errors at the order step will eliminate unnecessary complications in getting paid.
A miss-entered order creates a cascade of effects on the supply chain:
These problems can snowball if they’re not identified early in the fulfillment process, creating potential conflicts with state revenue and regulatory agencies and weak spots in inventory management.
Incorrect order entry has immediate, unpleasant effects on your customers. Not only will you see an increase in returns, with the associated costs of shipping and re-stocking, but your brand reputation will suffer. Dissatisfied customers will be quick to offer negative feedback and reviews, which may dampen future sales. Goods shipped in error may never sell, creating a backlog of waste that must be stored or disposed of. Re-shipping corrected orders increases your costs and creates delays for your customers.
A mistake in order entry doesn’t just annoy customers and jam up your supply chain, it creates problems with payment. Your invoicing process depends on the validity of billing addresses, contact information and credit card/purchase order/account numbers. If these are entered manually and incorrectly, you may not be able to collect payment on your order.
Even if your accounts receivable team is in a different city than your customer service team, you need an integrated, automated system that prevents manual entry errors and allows you to track the progress of an order from start to finish. Such an Order To Cash (OTC) system has 8 primary components, each of which can be customised to fit your organisation’s needs.
If manual orders are creating problems across your supply chain and revenue cycles, your organisation may benefit from automating these processes using an OTC system. Are you ready to learn more about the specifics of these systems and how they can support your business? Let us know, and we’ll work with you to design a customised, flexible solution that meets your organisation’s needs.
Those of us at Esker continually aim to help others use document process automation and similar tools to make their businesses run more efficiently. We recently held a Live Question and Answer session that focused on your most craved questions regarding customer service department metrics and key performance indicators.
Bill Gessert, President of the International Customer Service Association (ICSA), joined us for this exclusive session. He has years of progressive responsibility within both the Association and Customer Experience industries. Bill also has expertise in business development, strategic planning and execution, customer experience, training and coaching.
Esker’s very own, Howie Hahn, also joined the session as he explained how tracking customer service performance can help you identify other downstream organizational impacts, such as the ability to scale and support business growth.
In our live session we pointed out three particular KPI’s to measure, and ones you’ve perhaps ignored too often.
Top Three KPI’s to Measure in Your Metrics
Key performance indicators tell you everything you need to know about what’s happening in your customer service department. Yet, with so many available, which ones should you pay attention to over others that look important?
Customer Satisfaction Score
This is one of the most important because it gives you a consolidated number telling you whether what you’re doing is truly working. It doesn’t involve just one source either and can range from a Net Promoter Score to group surveys.
In the case of the Net Promoter Score, you’re given a simple 1-10 score that determines how likely your customers are not only to remain loyal but how likely they are to give the ultimate gift of a referral. This ranges from detractors on the low end to promoters on the high end. However, we pondered whether it truly goes deep enough to analyze customer responses.
Gessert pointed out CSAT surveys, focus groups, and survey forms are worth trying in gaining a good idea of what customers want. Surveys are important to do immediately after a transaction. You still need to set a realistic time frame and clearly indicate how many questions you ask.
Setting and Adhering to a Service Level Agreement
With service level agreement metrics, you can determine a lot about how you’re living up to service contract promises. You’ll want to measure your average speed to answer customer requests, and how well you execute first calls and handling time.
Reading these metrics helps you analyze how well your staff performs in their customer service roles.
Another aspect discussed in the session was how available your customer service staff is. Here, you need to study the effort level in how your staff resolves customer problems. Studying this helps you examine how you can increase customer loyalty.
Using Customer Effort Scores was also discussed, and Gessert mentions companies need to respond to customers 85% of the time to retain loyalty.
After a discussion on growth and how using metrics helps with future ROI, we went into discussing the visibility side of a business. To empower your employees, Gessert noted three things to uphold more visibility: Send out a newsletter from internal departments with success stories and other highlights; Award and reward your employees to entice them to keep their performance level up. Leveraging awards is a great sales tactic; Place your C-Suite in the role of a secret customer or shopper. They’ll know what day-to-day activities are like with your team.
We invite you to listen to our recorded version of our webinar to help you decide whether your metrics should become tactical or strategic.
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.
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.
Let’s not confuse ‘issue management’ solution and ‘issue management’ process.
For sure, most companies deal with ‘customer issues’ – mostly via a mix of tools such as email, telephone, CRM, intranet, etc. This means that there is no adequate ‘issue management’ solution in place to effectively and productively drive the prompt resolution of customer issues. Of course, this leads to customer dissatisfaction and erode positive branding. Like the recent quote from the CEO of Telstra who said that customers do not compare their customer experience between vendors but against their last interaction with the same company.
The early and broad adoption of EDI technologies in ANZ in various industries means that a large proportion of customer orders are transmitted via EDI. However, like everywhere else, EDI orders are processed via one set of technologies whilst fax and email orders are processed either manually or via another set of technologies – often enough not in an integrated manner. This means that the customer service team seldom has access to all customer orders from one interface, cannot easily reconcile all customer orders from customers using multiple channels (EDI, fax, email, tel) and in some companies a dedicated team needs to check and correct EDI orders.
A simpler, integrated solution to manage all orders – EDI, fax, email – provides an effective tool to increase productivity and increase customer satisfaction.
Adoption of Esker’s business process automation solutions improved cash conversion cycle and customer experience leading to recognition.
Sydney, Australia — August 2, 2016 — Parts Town, a leading parts distributor in the food service equipment market (www.partstown.com), was named the AR & O2C Spotlight Awards’ Order-to-Cash Department of the Year winner. Hosted by The AR Network (TARN), the inaugural awards are an expansion of the Institute of Finance and Management’s (IOFM) Spotlight Awards and recognise outstanding achievements in financial operations.
Parts Town earned this distinction by successfully automating its manual cash conversion process, improving customer service and increasing productivity and efficiency while reducing days sales outstanding (DSO).
Last year, Parts Town’s O2C team recognized the need for a new process to sustain its high annual growth rates while increasing workflow efficiency and visibility, high-quality customer care and turnaround time. They decided that a cloud-based solution would enhance their productivity and enlisted the help of Esker, a leading document process automation solution provider.
Esker’s solution automated the entire order processing cycle starting with the reception of the order, scanning of the order and creation of the order into the ERP application, as well as creating and processing invoices for collection. With this implementation, Parts Town is steadily making progress toward its goal of processing 60 percent of its orders by 3 p.m. every day.
“Parts Town is growing rapidly and we need solutions that put us in a position to continue that growth, as well as streamline the processes to maintain it,” said Amy Argentine, Director of Technical Service at Parts Town. “Providing excellent customer service was the driving force behind our decision to partner with Esker, and we are now able to provide an improved process from start to finish in less time.”
With the automated order processing solution, Parts Town’s Distribution Center (DC) benefited greatly as well. The DC has full visibility using this platform, which allows the data to be allocated and used to forecast supply chain and staffing demands.
“The O2C cycle is crucial to the success of a business because it affects customer satisfaction and the company’s bottom line. Parts Town was awarded this honor due to its commitment to prioritising the customer experience while sustaining growth and improving visibility,” said Brian Cuthbert, executive director at IOFM.
Parts Town (www.partstown.com) supplies genuine OEM replacement parts for commercial cooking equipment to the restaurant industry. For over 20 years, Parts Town has been focused on delivering the highest level of customer service for food equipment replacement parts, commercial kitchen accessories and selected food equipment. By recruiting and retaining the industry’s leading talent and living its core values, Parts Town has been able to achieve the unique combination of providing the industry’s most complete set of value-added capabilities while continuing to provide enthusiastic and expert customer service.
Parts Town has been named to the Crain’s “Fast 50” list, recognising the fastest growing companies in the Chicagoland area for six consecutive years as well as the “Inc 5000” list of fastest growing privately held companies in North America for eight consecutive years.