Prospects ask this a lot: Does automating sales order processing lead to eliminating staff?
It’s a common misconception. The purpose of automation is not to reduce headcount, but rather to provide staff with tools and smart technology — like Artificial Intelligence (AI) — to supplement their work. While automation does free up staff time to work on more value-added activities, possibly opening the door to re-allocating them within the company, there are numerous soft benefits that should also be considered.
Four Soft Benefits and Tangible Outcomes
- Overtime reduction; better work-life balance and lower costs
I recently spoke with a pipe manufacturer whose key driver for their automation project was eliminating mandatory overtime. Management was concerned that their Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) were burnt out, more error prone and likely to leave due to excessive overtime. Sales order automation with machine-learning technology would allow the company to eliminate mandatory overtime and avoid new hire costs while giving CSRs a better work-life balance and work enjoyment.
How close are your CSR’s to being burnt out and moving on?
- No more mundane; retaining valuable staff
One life science customer explained how they routinely hire MBA level CSRs who tend to be expensive and tough to recruit. After spending all that time and money to recruit them, they were placed in a job full of mundane, manual activities that ultimately killed their drive and ambition. Instead of leveraging their knowledge to benefit the business, they were placed in a position that they will more than likely move on from after a short period of time.
How many of your educated CSRs are performing mundane order entry tasks?
- Encourage high performers; recognising your staff
Another customer implemented sales order automation, leading staff to reduce order entry time by six minutes per order. Due to this, the company was able to avoid hiring additional employees and focus on encouraging current staff, promoting the top performers to coach others. Some CSRs were even able to be moved to inside sales and IT roles. Automation provided the platform for improvement and visibility into daily activities, allowing the company to recognise and promote employees.
How many CSRs have you been able to promote internally?
- Better customer experience; cutting out competition
The real win is when the CSRs are able to spend more time serving customers than entering and checking orders. For a furniture manufacturer, it meant they were able to answer customer inquiries in one short call versus three calls. With staff spending more time working with customers, they create a better experience which cuts out competition by creating loyal customers.
Is your staff able to provide a superior customer experience or are they stuck on manual order entry?
Soft Savings = Big Benefits
When companies invest in their people, process and technology, everybody benefits. Not only are CSRs more fulfilled, they end up sticking around for longer and contributing more. Adrian Posterraro, Director of Customer Success at Integer Holdings Corporation, invested in training, new processes and sales order automation. In return, he was able to avoid hiring more people, dramatically improve morale, increase customer satisfaction by 7.5%, absorb a 16% per year growth, and net a 4.4% profit gain (EBITA).
Soft savings add up. Be sure to vet the sales order automation solutions you consider and look for a solution that can offer more than just buzzwords. Instead, ensure the solution vendor has numerous case studies, video testimonials, and customers who can describe how they utilised the time and effort saved with automation as well as the results that followed.