Businesses are always trying to improve their customer service. But what about the Customer Experience? The past few decades have seen processes get smarter with customers demanding (and expecting) more, faster, with even better customer service. Today’s technology can make your people more efficient, remove monotonous admin and make it easier for your customers to buy your products and services. Applications and automation have been around for some time, but it is only more recently that this sort of technology has become more accessible and affordable to SMEs and SMBs. Now is the time to embrace technology in your customer experience!
First of all, what is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience is different to customer service. Customer service is ‘what’ you do when the customer contacts you. Customer experience is the culture of ‘how’ you do what you do and how that makes the customer feel about you as a business. Here’s an example: consider the difference between a traditional taxi hire company and Uber. They do the same thing – a saloon car drives you from A to B – but they do it in a very different way. The effectiveness of booking, the accuracy of the drive and the quality of the car is the ‘customer service’. The technology, the automation, the options that it enables – even to the extent of allowing passengers to control the music in the car – is the Customer Experience. We may not all like the Uber business model, but millions of people globally choose that option every day for the ease, convenience, and customer experience they receive. This is one of many examples of the huge impact technology can have on improving customer experience.
So, what has this got to do with your business?
Every business has customers, suppliers or partners and every business has processes. Automating these processes using technology has a huge potential to improve the experience your customers have (therefore meaning they stay with you as a customer and continue spending or spend more).
The technology is there at your fingertips to make process automation a reality for your business.
It’s easier than ever to automate your business processes
Today we are seeing the democratisation of business process automation. Traditionally, office-based processes involved moving, transforming, and shaping information to deliver an outcome. As consumers we are all familiar with this change – we used to pick up a phone and ring for a takeaway based on a menu that changed perhaps once a year. Now with JustEat and Deliveroo we can select in a single app from multiple options, and the restaurants can change their menus daily, update special offers, and provide updates on the progress of the order in real time. The transaction is fundamentally the same, but HOW we engage with it has changed beyond recognition, and our experience as the customer has also changed. Personally, I think for the better, but I’ll let you come to your own judgement.
The democratisation of business process automation means that these days businesses can create improved digital experiences for their customers without having to invest huge capital in the enabling technology. It’s all there, in the cloud, waiting for you. We at Select Technology are Microsoft Partners and you would therefore expect us to say that Power Automate and Microsoft Forms are great tools, and they are. But it’s a big internet and there are plenty of options.
Why would you want to automate?
The question should really be, why wouldn’t you?! The benefits of business process automation sit on both sides of the fence – they help your customers, and they help YOU.
A well automated process allows the customer to interact smoothly and at a time of their choosing – a web form at midnight is as good as one at 3pm! It also gives the customer an engaging, branded experience and can lead them through the process and provide prompts, making the whole thing easier. If you’re dependent on a phone-based interaction you’re excluding a number of potential customers: people with phone anxiety (one study showed that 15% of potential customers would choose not to engage if it required a phone call), people with hearing difficulties, as well as people with English as a second language. These are all groups of people with money wishing to buy services, so why exclude them?
Process automation can make a huge difference to your back office too:
- Removes tedious data input from the process. No more writing notes on a scrap of paper then keying them into a spreadsheet and sending someone an email about it!
- Accelerates the sale. If you get it right you can eliminate time lost to basic admin, turning an enquiry into cash much quicker, and in the process improving the experience for the customer who does not have to spend so much time waiting.
- Automated allocation. By using the information provided by the customer, you can direct the enquiry to the right part of the business, and more quickly.
Automation is so much more than customer experience
Automation of course applies to any process which takes some input information, does something to it and stores the result somehow. That runs into the back office in processes like invoice approval, stock control, order management, marketing, HR processes, and so on. The world is very much your oyster.
So, can anyone build an app?
In theory, yes. There is now technology available, including Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Power Automate that can be utilised by anyone, not necessarily a techy. Simple web forms, like Microsoft Forms can also help move you away from collecting data via email or by phone and then collating it manually.
I must caveat this with a very big but though! Anyone CAN program their own automation or applications, but in reality, it is time consuming, potentially confusing and not necessarily optimised for the best outcome. Working with a company like Select Technology will give you a huge advantage and less of a headache.
You’re thinking, ‘of course he would say that’. Yes, I see your point, but really automation is much more than just creating a process flow or app. Taking a step back to understand your existing business processes, what your future goals are and what you actually want to get out of any automation is key. We can help you with all of this as well as using some of the very best programmers in the UK to build, test and maintain your apps or automation.