Which of these situations would you prefer?
You sign up for a new accounting service. As part of your signup process, you answer a lot of questions about yourself and your business. By the time you’re finished, the accounting service knows everything rom your mother’s middle name to the reason you dumped your previous provider.
And yet somehow, none of the customer service reps seem to know anything about you. Every time you hit a snag, you need to call them. Every time you call or get transferred, you need to repeat all of your information again. All of the emails to you are addressed “Valued Customer.”
Although you may indeed be a valued customer, you’re feeling rather like a number instead of a human in the eyes of this company.
You sign up for a new accounting service. You answer all the same questions during signup, but this time, your new vendor listens.
When you have an issue, there’s an enormous trove of answers in the knowledge base and help docs. If you need to contact them, you have options like chat and email in addition to the phone. Every customer service rep knows the details of your business and your previous reasons for calling. All of the emails to you are addressed to your name and tailored specifically to things you’re interested in.
We bet Scenario 2 sounds like a business experience you’d want, whereas Scenario 1 represents the all-too-common reality.
The driving force behind a customer experience as seamless as Scenario 2? Business automation.
Businesses who automate key systems while maintaining a human touch instantly stand out from the crowd and create more loyal customers.
The Benefits of Business Automation
To answer the question posed in our headline – yes, business automation creates vastly improved customer experiences.
Our little anecdote exemplifies why a touch of human-powered automation goes a long way to helping customers fondly remember their interactions with you.
Judicious automation of business systems is a win-win. It makes life easier for businesses when whole task lists that previously took up staff time can be executed automatically and free of human error. On the other side of the interaction, customers benefit from automation in the right situations.
A few examples of ways business automation benefits customers:
- If speed matters. In situations where customers expect quick action, automation puts you a step ahead. Instead of waiting for a person to do easily automated tasks like respond to simple customer service queries or start the fulfillment process for a digital item, let your automation take care of that right away.
- When personalization makes a difference. One of the best uses for automation in customer-facing situations is to personalize the customer's experience. Instead of generic copy, you can send more specific emails. Instead of sending all your customers the same discount offers, you can personalize based on what your customer relationship management (CRM) system says they’ve bought before.
- For situations where errors could be catastrophic. When it comes to accounting, the more you can eliminate the risk of human error, the better. At Quaderno, we make your life easier with automated systems and bidding adieu to paperwork. What our clients also know is that automated accounting systems help customers too, with vastly lower risk of errors and faster service.
Places in Your Business System to Use Automation
What key systems could use a dose of automation? Almost every part of your business benefits from automating tasks where humans can be slow or error-prone – or in situations where the people in your business simply need to prioritise other tasks.
Here are a few specific examples of automation in your business system:
Sales automation has obvious benefits for sales reps. They can spend less time worrying about mundane tasks like logging calls and manual dialing, and more time focused on selling.
The benefit isn’t as obvious on the customer end. Customers rarely cheer for technological improvements resulting in facing more sales pitches, after all. What’s happened, however, is that sales automation creates more informed and better-prepared sales reps, which in turn creates a better customer experience.
Rather than dealing with aggressive sales reps who know little to nothing about why their product might benefit you, the customer, sales CRM and automation technology equips sales reps with better information and better sales tactics.
Plus, if you express either interest or you’re a bad fit for the product, chances are you won’t have to repeat yourself, because every sales rep in that company will have access to your file notes.
If you want to keep your customers engaged, you need to stay in touch. It’s quite common nowadays to recommend automating customer communications.
As with all “best practices,” though, you should form your own plan when it comes to automating the voice of your company. For instance, automated direct messages on Twitter were once recommended – now, they’re generally considered spam. Make sure your automation doesn’t come across as tone-deaf.
If you’re going to automate, be sure you’re keeping everything “human voiced.” Try automating communications that need to arrive in a certain sequence, like onboarding emails, courses or sales cycle emails. You can also automate transaction-related communications like confirmations and shipping notices.
Be careful with your automation in customer service. Your customers will want to feel like they’re being helped by humans. At the same time, automating some interactions will free up your customer service reps to focus on the problems that require a human.
Automation should help your customer service team scale and prioritise – not replace human customer service reps.
A few areas to focus on automating in customer service include:
- Chat and email: Provide options. Not every customer issue requires a one-to-one phone call. Many customers would prefer to use chat or email tools, anyway, and your customer service reps can monitor more than one chat or inbox at a time – win-win!
- Ticketing: Automated ticketing systems help you create a more unified customer service front, and also distribute problems quickly to the reps and teams best equipped to answer. All of that means better answers for your customers and no extra work on your end to make it so.
- Knowledge base: The evolution of the FAQs, well-maintained knowledge bases can use algorithms and automation to return useful articles and tutorials in response to common customer service issues. Dropbox’s Help Center is one of the best examples of a robust and friendly knowledge base (it also features personalization!)
As we talk about a lot here at Quaderno, accounting used to be a massively manual process.
Images of swiping beads on an abacus and poring over leatherbound ledgers gave way to slide rules and basic computing – and now we’ve reached another major inflection point with the rise of automated accounting for smart businesses.
There’s always risk in business finances. Risk of changing markets, inaccurate valuations and fickle customers; however, as our technological capabilities grow, one risk that seems increasingly unacceptable is risk of human error.
Automating your business accounting processes creates endless upside. For instance, one of Quaderno's billing features allows customers to update their data and download past invoices themselves, saving everyone time.
Here are a few areas you can focus on as you begin to automate your accounting:
- Recurring invoicing and billing
- Automatic receipts
- Instantly calculate VAT or other tax
- And more.
The most important thing to remember if you’re seeking better customer experiences through business automation: Don’t come across as robotic!
Automation is meant to help humans, not replace them.
To that end, ensure you’re testing your automation systems regularly so you don’t inadvertently create a customer experience nightmare.
Plus, automation isn’t “set it and forget it” technology. Your business needs and your customers’ needs will change as you grow or add new capabilities; revisiting your automation structure on a consistent basis helps keep you at the forefront of technology and not lagging behind.