Automating jobs (or business processes) can be a scary proposition for business owners. How much of my time will it take? Do I need to hire an IT Developer? Will I have to lay off loyal employees? Is this the beginning of the end of humanity, and will we soon be serving our robot overlords?
The good news is modern customer relationship management (CRM) has come a long way. The best solutions are easier to configure and implement, and affordable for companies of all sizes. Today most CRM platforms operate in the cloud eliminating onsite hardware investment and maintenance costs. Cloud software is typically sold as a yearly subscription, which is less expensive than an outright purchase. Solutions like SugarCRM are low code or no code. This allows non-IT staff to perform administrative tasks to reduce programming and development costs. All this makes return on investment achievable in a shorter time period.
10% to 25% of human work hours are spent on dull, repetitive computer tasks
Automation does not have to lead to lost jobs. How many times have you wished for more time to spend on sales, marketing, or margin management initiatives? By eliminating dull, repetitive tasks you create more time without increasing costs. Employees spend more time on tasks that contribute value to the business, and become more challenged and engaged. The following are processes you can automate today to increase return on your CRM investment.
1. Customer On-boarding
Customer on-boarding can be an arduous task for sales people. It typically entails different tasks such as credit check, delivery location set up, and user role and permissions setup. Manual on-boarding relies heavily on the account manager to monitor each task until completed. I like to compare it to herding cats.
You can automate this process in CRM to trigger a workflow when an opportunity is won, or order is placed. The workflow will assign each task to the appropriate agent. Define response and resolution times by creating service level agreements (SLAs). Managers receive alerts and can monitor progress to make sure SLAs are met. Add additional workflows to trigger when all tasks are completed. Send welcome emails or schedule training. A huge time saver for all involved.
2. Service Issue Submission
If your business has a lot of daily transactions you probably have occasional service issues, such as returns, wrong fills, and missed deliveries. In a manual system the customer contacts a customer service representative (CSR) or account manager. Account managers are very often busy with other customers, or closing new business, and fail to submit or respond to issues promptly. An overwhelmed CSR may miss important details, or lose an email in a crowded inbox. Either of these scenarios can lead to a bad customer experience.
33% of American customers say they’ll consider switching companies immediately following a single instance of poor service.
Fortunately, you can automate the submission process with CRM to provide a more consistent experience. Use dynamic case management to automatically route requests coming in from phone, email, website, or social media platforms. Requests become cases that are sent to appropriate agents based on issue priority, expertise, and team capacity. Sales people can quickly submit cases on mobile devices through email integration. Managers can use alerts to manage response times, and reporting to help uncover trends and balance workloads. SugarCRM’s mobile-enabled portal gives customers the ability to create support tickets, review history, and check status at any time. Customers will receive faster, higher quality responses with less effort from your team. A great customer experience at a lower cost. The ultimate win-win.
3. Document Management
Chances are you’ve spent far too many hours of your life searching for documents. I know I have. The best digital filing systems eventually become compromised by mislabeling, misfiling, and duplicate folders. And it’s why document management is another great job to automate.
With CRM, internal and customer related files can be stored in a central location. You can link documents to other records such as accounts, cases, and opportunities for quick and easy access. Create templates for frequently used documents, or quickly duplicate existing files. You can also create documents that are linked to external sources such as Google Docs or Google Drive. Keep files confidential by limiting access to certain individuals, or team members. Save time, increase productivity, and maintain control of your important business documents.
Begin Your Automation Journey
There are many more processes that can be automated. Lead management, lead nurturing, customer engagement, and HR come immediately to mind. I chose these 3 because they apply to multiple departments, and help to introduce process automation throughout the business. It really doesn’t matter so much where as when you start. New competitors are using technology to lower costs and elevate service to disrupt markets. Traditional businesses need to embrace digital transformation to adapt, evolve, and remain competitive. Process automation is a critical component of this evolution and should have an important role in your digital transformation journey.