Tag Archives: business processes

PepsiCo selects Esker to Enhance its Order Processing and Better Serve its Cutomers

Sydney, Australia — October 9, 2017Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions, and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with PepsiCo in the UK, the British subsidiary of the world leading food and beverage company, to automate its order processing

PepsiCo has a portfolio that includes 22 brands that each generate more than $1 billion in estimated annual retail sales. PepsiCo maintains its world-leading status by being at the forefront of innovative practices and adopting the latest ways to continually improve its business. With this in mind, a project was devised to improve the way certain customer orders were being processed to eliminate any non-value added tasks and reduce the risk of manual keying errors.

The challenge that was identified showed that smaller independent traders who placed frequent orders, could not be set up with EDI, due to the complexity, time and resources required. Therefore, a much simpler but just as efficient process was required. PepsiCo selected Esker to achieve this with Esker’s order processing automation solution.

Simplify the process and free up customer services

The first plan of action was to assess the current order process and simplify how orders were being received, how the information was being captured and finally, how orders were then approved. PepsiCo wanted to offer its customers the simplest way to place their orders whilst considering some of the bespoke customer requirements of their own individual choosing.

Secondly, PepsiCo wished to free up its customer services representatives (CSR) from non-value added tasks such as the data entry from orders, so that they would devote more time to serving the needs of their customers.

Fully automated order processing

PepsiCo uses Esker’s on demand solution to first receive the customer orders in any file format (e.g. fax, email, EDI) which are then automatically routed to the correct CSR Team based on product categories contained within the order.

Next the relevant data is extracted automatically through an intelligent recognition tool to create the corresponding sales order in their ERP system without the need for any manual input. This means that the CSRs can simply verify that the data has been correctly extracted or adjust any missing elements.
If any exceptions occur or approvals are required then the order is automatically placed into a workflow to be actioned. Once approved the order is electronically archived with easy access made available to any authorised user.

“Currently PepsiCo manages approximately 4,000 orders per month (outside those received through EDI) and over 90% of these can now be processed without any human intervention at all,” commented Tom Durance, Customer Order and Strategy Manager, PepsiCo.

“The benefits we have already gained have been; increased data accuracy rates, faster order processing speeds and improved customer service productivity leading to better customer satisfaction rates. Also this would allow us to obtain 100% visibility of order/issue management via a full audit trail and KPI dashboards for monitoring and reporting,” added Durance.

Esker UK’s Managing Director, Alistair Nicholas said, “We are delighted to be working with PepsiCo and have been very pleased that the project has been a success so far both in terms of the benefits achieved and the timescales that were requested. We look forward to continuing this success to other PepsiCo subsidiaries in the future”.

Future outlook

Looking forward towards future projects, the solution now in place could be rolled out easily to other PepsiCo subsidiaries around the world using the same automated process. Also using Esker’s agile development methodology allowed a quick project delivery in less than 3 months.

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $63 billion in net revenue in 2015, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – their goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth and shareholder value. In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimise their impact on the environment and reduce their operating costs; providing a safe and inclusive workplace for their employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where they operate. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com

 

 

Customer Service Appreciation Week: How Are You Doing?

 

 

This week is Customer Service Appreciation week and as we all know, customer service can be one of the toughest jobs there is. Dealing with difficult customers and solving problems day after day can be exhausting, but it can also be a rewarding challenge when done correctly. And with studies showing that customer experience will overtake price and product as key brand differentiators in as little as three years, now is the time, more than ever, to make sure your customer service is the best it can be.

But where do you start? You probably have a lot of blind spots when it comes to assessing your own customer service level, because you may see the good intentions behind it instead of the actual results. Plus, customer service can be easy to write off as something you’ll eventually get around to improving when you have the time. But in a time when almost 90% of consumers say they would pay more for a better customer experience, optimizing customer service should be a priority, not an afterthought.

Like most things in business, customer service should have a process — one that is well designed, adaptable, and proven time after time. Falling into the trap of keeping up the same customer service habits you’ve always had, whether they are good or bad, can keep you from realizing the full potential of your customer service department and the positive effect it could have for your company. Sometimes, it’s best to have an outside perspective to shed some light on the potential blind spots you may have.

Check out this quick and practical self-assessment guide from The Art of Service to take a closer look at how your customer service is actually doing. This is just an excerpt from the full guide, but it will help you develop a clear picture of areas that you may be blind to right now, and implement evidence-based strategies that align with your overall goals!

And to all our customer service reps out there — thank you for doing what you do! Your work can often be underappreciated and undervalued, but it continues to play an integral role in how a company relates to its consumers and subsequently, the success of the company overall.

Amerock Hardware Cuts Processing Time with Esker’s Cloud-Based Order Processing Solution

Sydney, Australia — September 13, 2017 — Esker, a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it is working with Amerock® Hardware, a supplier of decorative and functional hardware solutions, to automate. 

Of the roughly 15,000 customer orders Amerock receives each month, about 6,000 were previously non-automated and required manual intervention. With staff spending 70-75 percent of their day on data entry, the company sought to drive revenue and greater efficiency through an automation solution. Esker’s Order Processing solution was chosen for its ability to help Amerock segment its customer base, improve processing speed, engage in proactive customer service and reduce errors.

Today, 66 percent of Amerock’s non-automated orders are processed through Esker. This has allowed the company to shift its customer service department from a transactional role to a relational one. Processing via Esker has also brought the company greater peace of mind with the ability to track documents at every step of the workflow.

“We’ve been thrilled with the results that Esker has delivered,” said Kathy Wigginton, director of customer service at Amerock. “Instead of focusing on data entry, our staff is able to work on tasks like proactive outbound calling to ensure a positive customer experience and increase revenue.”

Benefits achieved through automation

Since Esker’s seamless integration with Amerock’s SAP® system, the company has experienced significant benefits, including:

  • Reduction in processing time; from nine minutes to less than two and a half minutes
  • Headcount stability even after losing three staff members due to natural attrition
  • Increased staff productivity; more time to spend on value-added activities
  • Improved customer experience; staff is more available to answer customer calls and inquiries
  • Heightened visibility; customisable dashboards display how many orders are coming in, their formats, etc.

In regards to Amerock’s future plans with Esker, Kathy Wigginton added: “We are even considering expanding our use of the Order Processing solution, as well as branching out to other departments like purchasing and accounts receivable.”

About Amerock

Since 1929, Amerock Hardware has set out to offer decorative hardware solutions that inspire, coordinate and help express personal style throughout the home. Today, Amerock is a part of The Piedmont Hardware Group and is headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina. Their brand focus is to continue to offer outstanding quality, exceptional customer service and innovative design solutions. Amerock offers a complete line of decorative and functional cabinet hardware, bath hardware, hook and rail, and wall plates.

The Business Case for Automating Stress Out of Your CSRs’ Lives

 

 

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 doublewhat 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.”

Chronic stress & customer service

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:

  1. Higher turnover rates. Included in this is the cost of:
    • Hiring and onboarding a new person
    • Lost productivity in getting new person up to speed
    • Training over a period of 1-3 years, typically
    • Cultural impacts due to constant staff “cycling”
  2. Lower customer satisfaction. Included in this is the cost of:
    • Increasing resources to quell customer contentions
    • Poor customer experience scores; potential loss of existing customers
    • Damaged reputation preventing new business opportunities

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 …

4 stress-busting benefits of order processing automation

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:

  1. It reduces repetitive and emotional encounters with customers.
    All of us can picture a helpless CSR being berated by an angry customer over the phone. As stressful as that is, having to manage routine, repeated requests also plays a big role in CSR burnout. It’s key to remember why these interactions are happening in the first place — a customer’s expectations were not met, or, the customer had no other means of performing the desired action. Automated solutions defuse these potentially combustible situations by allowing companies to offer their customers a self-service portal to place orders, track orders and even log disputes. Should a customer want to clarify an issue or ask a question directly, a built-in chat tool enables real-time communication with a CSR. Bottom line:Customers are far less likely to reach for the phone when they’re afforded transparency and control into their orders. That’s a recipe for happier CSRs, happier customers and a healthier bottom line.
  2. It relieves CSRs of unnecessary blame.
    Whether it’s their manager or a customer doing the finger-pointing, being a magnet for blame is huge stressor for CSRs. But humans make mistakes. If manual data entry is part of processing a customer order, at some point, errors are going to occur. It’s the process — not the person — that’s broken. Once again, automation provides a simple and intuitive fix. Machine learning technology embedded in the solution ensures that all the relevant data on an incoming order is extracted and analyzed, regardless of how the order arrived (e.g., EDI, fax, email, etc.). The data is then automatically processed or presented to the CSR for validation and uploaded in the ERP system. Bottom line: Automation eliminates manual data entry — the main source of order processing errors. This relieves CSRs of their burden of blame while avoiding the inevitable downstream costs of righting any wrongs.
  3. It helps CSRs be more organized and proactive.
    Most CSRs would love to get ahead of potential issues and showcase initiative. However, with no centralized system to view and manage all of the orders coming into and out their company on any given day, their hands are often tied. If order volumes spike unexpectedly or a priority customer’s document needs to be retrieved ASAP, the CSR is left scrambling. Here’s the beauty of automated order processing: Best-in-class solutions are equipped with customizable dashboards that display live, visual analytics to help CSRs strategize their day. Whether it’s seeing how many priority orders to validate or even managing open customer issues, CSRs can finally say goodbye to the endless cycle of backlogs and boondoggles. Bottom line: Dashboards empower CSRs, and empowered CSRs are a very low-stress and high-reward investment for any company.
  4. It creates an environment of purpose, fulfillment and upward mobility.
    Career uncertainty is also a major stressor for CSRs, as they can often feel trapped in the daily minutia of performing thankless, low-value tasks. With no clear path for professional growth in sight, their performance inevitably suffers, as does the overall customer experience. Order processing automation addresses this by relieving CSRs from traditional administrative duties so they can perform tasks that are more critical to the business and have greater potential for career-pathing. What’s more, managers can track KPIs in the dashboard to reward those CSRs who are going above and beyond. Bottom line: CSRs who receive recognition and serve a strategic purpose almost always perform better at their jobs and have a lower rate of turnover.

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.

5 Accounts Payable KPIs Worth Tracking

Is your accounts payable (AP) department being tasked to better monitor, track and improve key performance indicators (KPIs)?

Then you’re well aware that it can be a daunting task. Why? There are an infinite number of KPIs that you could track to measure AP performance. Deciding which accounts payable KPIs to track depends on your organization’s and department’s goals. However, these KPIs are a great place to start!

5 Accounts Payable KPIs You Should Be Tracking

  1. Cost to process a single invoice
    As much as you’d enjoy it, your suppliers aren’t just going to stop wanting payments. Processing invoices (especially manually) can be expensive when accounting for costs associated with routing, copying and follow-up, staff salaries, managerial overhead and IT support.
    .
    What does the data say? PayStream Advisors reported that the average, all-inclusive cost to process an invoice manually is $40.70! Ouch!
    .
  2. Time to process a single invoice
    People say time is money for a reason, and accounts payable is no exception. The time it takes to process an invoice is a great KPI to track for determining how much value an AP department is either wasting or adding. Longer invoice processing times often lead to missed vendor discounts, late payment fees, low staff productivity, and supplier dissatisfaction.
    .
    What does the data say? Ardent Partners reported the market average for processing a single invoice is 11.4 days. Yikes…
    .
  3. Number of invoices processed per day per AP clerk
    Measuring staff productivity is a great way to pinpoint exactly which suppliers are causing your staff the most problems. This can be calculated in three steps:

    1. Take the number of invoices processed per month.
    2. Divide by the number of FTEs who process them.
    3. Factor in who’s responsible for what aspects.

    What does the data say? Ok, so there’s not a definitive market average for this one because of all the different factors that play into the calculation. However, once you begin tracking your AP staff’s productivity, you’ll easily be able to see who your top processors are!

  4. Percentage of invoices linked to a purchase order (PO)
    Invoice validation is a key step in AP invoice processing which is why delays, like information not matching PO data, are concerning. Typically, the higher the percentage of invoices linked to a PO, the faster and less expensive your AP process will be.
    .
    What does the data say? Ardent Partners reported the market average for percentage of invoices linked to a PO is 58.9%.
    .
  5. Invoice exception rate
    The amount of time and resources required to manage invoice exceptions is a major reason why many AP departments underperform. Exceptions are often caused by discrepancies in PO and invoice data, missing/incorrect POs, and bottlenecks in the approval workflow.
    .
    What does the data say? Ardent Partners reports the market average for invoice exception rates is 17.2%

Measuring KPIs with Real-Time Analytics and Dashboards

Just as important as knowing which accounts payable KPIs to track, is having the technology in place to gather, sort and distribute the data you’re collecting. A robust AP automation solution should provide you with real-time analytics and the dashboards you need to make tracking your KPIs easy.

Want to learn more about accounts payable KPIs and dashboards? Download this eBook, 5 Accounts Payable KPIs Worth Tracking: Maximize Results with Real-Time Analytics & Dashboards.

Embracing Digital Transformation

 

The global marketplace across industries is rapidly becoming more and more complex. Technology is enabling swift momentum in the economy and, like it or not, it’s here to stay. Contrary to the viewpoint of many legacy organizations, technology is intended to make people’s lives easier and more efficient. With so many apps and programs, many organizations find the hardest step is knowing where to start.

Put the customer first.

Companies have seen the most rapid and immediate financial gains by putting customer experience at the forefront of their digital transformation strategy. Design your strategy to give the customer what they want. This often includes:

  • A user-friendly, straightforward interface personalized for their needs
  • Self-service options for quick and easy access to information
  • 24/7 availability and mobile flexibility
  • Proactive engagement from vendors

Why does it matter?

Change can be hard — no one said kicking-off a customer experience initiative that centers on digital transformation would be easy. But here are cold-hard facts to give that extra push:

  • $84 billion is lost annually by American businesses due to mismanaged customer interactions
  • 67% of customer churn is preventable if the customer issue is resolved at the first engagement
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator

How do you get there?

Successful digital transformations happen with transparent collaboration, thoughtful planning and diverse stakeholder input. We’ve compiled our ideas on this topic in the white paper: Aligning People, Process & Technology: An Action Plan for Customer Service Excellence.

Be sure to share your thoughts below in the comments section!

  1. 2011 Global Customer Service Barometer: Market Comparison of Findings, (2011). Echo Research.
  2. ThinkJar annual survey and associated ThinkJar research, 2016
  3. Walker Information

Meet James – He’s a visionary for supply chain efficiency.

Accurate demand planning and logistics require real-time insight that you won’t find in manual operations — which is why supply chain leaders like James are turning to order management automation which offers:

  • Upstream order visibility with real-time metrics
  • Increased order processing accuracy & speed
  • Greater collaboration between staff & suppliers

Invest 2 minutes to see how your supply chain can benefit from an automation solution – watch now!

Look What You Make Organizations Do, Automation

On Friday, Taylor Swift dropped a music video for her newest song “Look What You Made Me Do.” Whether or not you like her or the song, you can’t deny its current success — it’s broken records for the most viewed YouTube video in the first 24 hours, racking up more than 40 million views.

The song seems to hit back at less-than-friendly media coverage she’s experienced recently, talking about how she was forced to get smarter and “harder”. She’s had to adapt, just like companies in competitive landscapes where they must evolve to survive.

One way businesses evolve is by implementing robotic process automation solution. When utilizing a best-in-class solution, it requires them to evaluate and improve their processes. It makes them better.

Look what you did, automation

“Esker has made everything much more efficient. We don’t have any of the problems we were having before.” – Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare

“Now, all we have to do is snap our fingers to find an archived invoice. Esker’s mobile invoice application has made approvals so much easier for our managers. No one at CARSO will ever go back to how it used to be!” – CARSO Group

“You can always tell you’ve made a good decision when it becomes integral to your daily operation.” – NationsBank

What automation helps companies do

Organizations leveraging an automation solution find themselves becoming:

  • Faster
    From quicker processing with electronic documentation to speedy customer follow-up, everything moves faster when you have the right solution in place.
  • Accurate
    Machine learning and other intelligent technologies help ensure that data is accurately extracted from documents every time.
  • Customer focused
    When staff is bogged down by manual tasks, the customer experience suffers. An automation solution frees them up to focus on more important things, like your customers.
  • Less wasteful
    Rather than printing documents and relying on paper and related materials (like toner), an electronic solution cuts the crap — minimizing waste as well as soft and hard costs.
  • Compliant
    With the transfer of business documents now highly regulated, automation allows companies to meet compliance requirements whether they’re doing business in the U.S. or overseas.
  • Integrated
    Rather than using multiple systems that can’t communicate, the right solution will integrate with existing infrastructure and unify process workflow rather than fragmenting it.

Whether it’s evaluating their process, making a plan for improvement, or creating a more effective process, automation makes organizations do a lot of [good] things. What has it helped your company do?

Want More Impressive Results from Your AP Department? Embrace Digital Transformation

 

 

Earlier this week, the entire country was caught up in a spectacle not seen in the contiguous United States in nearly four decades. The moon passed between the earth and sun to create an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon known as a total solar eclipse.

There were festivals, viewing parties and even weddings held to celebrate the rare celestial occurrence. Small towns in the path of totality were flooded by outsiders dying to get the full breathtaking experience of this seemingly once-in-a-lifetime event.

It was hard to ignore. And the end result was inspiring; undeniable.

If only the average accounts payable (AP) department could produce such impressive, indubitable results for all to see and appreciate …

Raising your expectations of AP

Let’s be clear: The results of a solar eclipse and the results of an AP solution aren’t in the same galaxy. The point is, many of today’s AP departments are selling themselves short by not expecting more out of the performance of their vendor invoicing process.

A lot of businesses think having an ERP system in place is enough to create a best-in-class AP operation. However, ERP systems don’t address many of the manual pains that inhibit AP efficiency and effective cash management, including: keying in invoice data into the ERP, tracking down approvers around the office for signatures, manually filing invoices and more. Furthermore, all of these error-prone, non-value added tasks are being performed by well-paid and highly educated AP staff members.

The effects are fairly predictable: The business ends up paying more for less, collaboration between other purchase-to-pay (P2P) processes suffer, staff turnover rates increase, strategic supplier relationships become damaged, and opportunities for new business dry up.

Embracing digital transformation

Sticking to the status quo cannot produce the kind of results today’s businesses need out of their AP department. The c-suite wants to be shown in clear and certain terms how AP is contributing to an improved bottom line — not told.

If you’re looking for a show-me solution to dramatically improve your AP performance, businesses no longer have to settle for a budget-breaking alternative to what they already have in place. This 12-page eBook explores how four different companies embraced digital transformation in their AP department, and highlights the truly amazing results of accounts payable automation.

There’s more …

Want to learn more about the benefits of making a digital transformation in AP? Download the full eBook, 4 Amazing Esker Launches: Accounts Payable Automation Stories with Awe-Inspiring Results to discover how these four companies created new competitive advantages thanks to automated AP invoicing solutions.

Building a Successful Business Case for AP Automation

Accounts payable (AP) and finance managers are aware of the advantages that AP automation has to offer. But it’s never as easy as simply selecting a vendor and implementing a solution. Before an automated AP invoicing project can hit the ground running, one critical hurdle must be cleared — getting buy-in from upper management and other key stakeholders.

The good news is, despite upper management consistently being cited as the biggest obstacle to AP automation, they understand the general benefits. According to survey results compiled by the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM), the c-suite believes AP would benefit from automation more than any other finance/administrative function.

Check out this SlideShare to learn how to enable AP and finance managers to embrace their responsibility and equip themselves with the knowledge and strategies needed to make AP automation a reality. By better understanding how automated AP invoicing works, AP and finance managers can cite key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics to more effectively persuade their organization’s top decision makers.

 

1. Finance Executive Survey: Priorities, Challenges, and Technologies for the Year Ahead, 2014. Institute of Finance & Management.