The digital era has seen the rise of automation from somewhat of an option to a total must-have for all businesses. Most companies attribute their continued success to the adoption of automation that powers a good chunk of their operations and processes.
Automation has now become a strategic business enabler due to its effectiveness and its proven ability to accelerate growth as well as maximize market opportunities.
Evolving customer preferences have also largely contributed to the increased automation uptake over the last couple of years. Speed, convenience and customer experience are just some of the low hanging fruits that businesses are now able to offer thanks to automation.
Automation has now become widespread. There’s no sector that currently doesn’t operate without some sort of business automation. It’s almost becoming like the backbone of a business to a certain extent.
Take the airline industry, for example. Airports, especially the busiest ones, are all incorporating automation in the ticketing systems in order to cope with rising passenger numbers.
For passengers, being able to navigate through an airport within the shortest time possible is extremely important. Airports are now keen on simplifying passengers’ journeys by offering self-service solutions in the form of self-service kiosks, that, in turn, help avoid unnecessary delays.
It is estimated that the global self-service kiosk market is expected to reach USD 20 billion by 2022.
Being able to significantly keep costs down is a big driving factor for the rise in the demand for such self-service solutions.
Why Should You Automate?
Well, first of all, because of your business, no matter how big or small needs automation in order to remain competitive, especially in a market where consumers are constantly demanding a lot from you not to mention their ever-rising expectations.
Another important reason why you should seriously consider automation is savings. Companies are saving quite a lot through wide-scale automation. By 2018, 26 percent of U.S. companies had adopted automation.
Studies show that adopting automation will save companies up to $165 billion by 2022. That’s more than enough reason why automation should now be a priority for your business.
Even slight automation has the capacity to transform a business in ways we never imagined. However small the automation is, it will always be appreciated by the customer. This basically shows that you care and that you are willing to go the extra mile to accommodate their needs and make it easy to do business with you.
For the majority of people, the benefits of automating processes include the elimination of routine and boring tasks, saving time and cost reduction.
However, there is more to automation than these usual advantages.
Some organizations still view automation as a technology that is being shoved down their throats. As such, while a good number of them have invested in one or more automation software, they still wish they didn’t.
Let’s just say that they are in it because everyone else is doing it. This means that they won’t flex a muscle to make the most out of their automation solutions, and unfortunately, it will not be of any help to their businesses.
If this describes your current situation, you will change your perception by knowing the many benefits of automation – beyond the elimination of routine activities, time-saving and cost reduction – and then finding opportunities to relay what you’ve learned for the greater good of everyone.
Numbers Don’t Lie – Automation Works!
Business automation (both BPA and RPA) is currently at an exciting phase of growth. On the technology adoption lifecycle, automation is almost reaching the top of the bell curve, and hence on the verge of breaking out into mainstream maturity.
It, therefore, means that the process automation market is at the peak of the global explosion. Perhaps the most eye-opening truth is the amount of money involved in what is still largely considered an underutilized technology.
A multibillion-dollar industry, automation has attained full acceleration. However, while the majority of organizations have adopted an impressive automation level, only a few exhibit mass scale adoptions. The business environment is dealing with a massive disruptor – with the potential to cause a revolution in the world of business.
The global statistics are quite interesting. As we speak, the non-industrial digital process automation industry is worth $6.76 billion. This figure is expected to grow to $12.61 billion by 2023.
Part of this growth is attributed to the fact that more and more companies (74 percent of companies) are spreading their wings in an active search for new use cases as far as automation is concerned. Between 2017 and 2019, organizations that deployed automation in mission-critical processes grew by 34 percent, from 16 percent.
It is not difficult to see how lucrative the process automation market is and hence the need to align your business and customers accordingly. Use this opportunity to meet the needs of your customers more satisfactorily.
Make use of automation to earn your company happy customers who will voluntarily evangelize only the best things about your products/services.
Top 6 Automation Benefits for Your Customers
1. Automation Delivers Quality and Consistency
Quality and consistency are your customer’s number one concern. It, therefore, goes without saying that if your business is struggling to deliver these two extremely important things, then it is high time you considered integrating some automation solutions that can help you deliver quality and consistency.
Being able to sustain your quality is important. With automation, you will be able to ensure that every action or operation is performed identically. This will result in high quality and reliable results throughout.
Consistency in customer service, for instance, is also guaranteed with automation. It will ensure that your customers will consistently experience the same level of service from your business.
2. Automation Helps Curb Cart Abandonment and Boost Recovery
Cart abandonment is really annoying, especially for e-commerce businesses. The truth is you can not avoid it altogether.
However, you can encourage online shoppers to pick up where they left off and hopefully complete their purchase journey.
Did you know that cart abandonment is reportedly responsible for over $4.6 trillion in lost e-commerce sales?
Automation can help you reduce cart abandonment by sending out automated messages to remind the customer to come back and continue with his or her shopping. That polite (automated) reminder could be just what the customer needs to finish the purchase.
SyncApps, for instance, have some cool, tried and tested e-commerce as well as other industry-specific integration solutions that can help you to keep up with the pace of your customers.
3. Automation Improves Customer Relationships
Being able to maintain and strengthen your relationship with a customer is one of the most important factors of business success. A good customer relationship is built and cultivated by being consistent in how you interact with them and well as with the quality service you provide.
Automation helps you keep your customer interaction going mainly because it will be done at regular intervals and in a specified frequency. The customer can, therefore, trust that you will always deliver as expected.
By adopting automation, you will be able to fill up the communication gap between your business and customers, which will enable you to solidify your relationships, build trust, attract more customers and ensure customer retention.
4. Automation Minimizes Conflict with Customers
Customers hate to be kept waiting when they get in touch with your company’s customer service. Long wait times can make you experience unimaginable problems with your customers.
As customers become more and more demanding and tech-savvy, their top expectation when it comes to service delivery is speed. In short, how fast is your turnaround?
See the below revelations – first response to inquiries and complaints ranks top on the list of the most important components of ideal customer experience.
To eliminate the possible problems which include losing important clients, you need to devise ways of making the wait times as short as possible. You have two options at your disposal – recruiting additional agents or automating the customer support function.
One way of automating the customer service channel is via interactive voice recognition (IVR). IVR allows callers to interact with a voice recognition program and then direct them to the appropriate interlocutor according to their needs.
Besides helping your customer service team to save time, IVR also eliminates the chances of a customer going through agonizing and frustrating moments, and in turn, denies them the incentive to complain or churn.
Another way that you can improve your customer service through automation is using predictive analytics to get rid of customer friction points. Utilize tools such as voice recognition, call recording, and usage monitoring to keep track of how customers interact with your company/products, the sales team, as well as the support funnel.
By keeping product adoption under surveillance, you can enhance customer retention and also identify problem points so as to correct them in a good time.
5. Meet the Needs of the Emerging Demographics – Generation Y
Generation Y – born in the 1980s and 1990s – is coming close to overtaking generation X and baby boomers both in numbers and purchasing power. This generation is seen as the one showing an increasing familiarity with electronic and digital technology.
After the millennial generation, Generation Y will soon make up the biggest part of the customer pool. Those already witnessing this imminent change are already feeling threatened – especially the ones who haven’t fully embraced automation.
The entire generation Y has in many instances been collectively characterized as lazy, aloof and entitled. Since they are digital natives, members of generation Y have a good side as well. They have mostly come out as self-reliant, savvy solvers of problems, and quite resourceful.
Thanks to these traits, Gen Yers have consistently responded favorably to automated services. A Capterra study revealed that 70 percent of generation Y women claimed to be the most comfortable when solving a problem without having to interact with a human being.
On the other hand, 60 percent of the millennials attested to having felt great about themselves and the company upon sorting out a support problem on their own.
Generation Y doesn’t only feel comfortable solving a problem via automated customer service, but, they also wouldn’t mind achieving the same on their own.
Customers that are adequately trained and informed are less likely to need customer support – and this doesn’t only apply to millennials, but to other demographics as well.
In that case, rather than resent the resourcefulness of the millennials and Gen Yers, businesses should embrace this quality and create an enabling atmosphere for them. Instead of feeling threatened, businesses should embrace automated services and then offer the necessary customer awareness and training to cater to the needs of this customer demographic.
So, get to work. Learn what millennials and their younger friends love and what they don’t love. Determine ways of making your customer service millennial-friendly. Because, whether you like it or not, you will have to do it sooner than later if you want your business to grow.
- Consistent Customer Experience
In recent years, conversations surrounding customer experience have increased significantly – and this is for a good reason. Nowadays, consumers have become choosy and more than ever, they know their rights. Among the factors that have contributed to this behavior is the stiff competition in all industries.
Another factor is the presence of the internet. A lot of businesses, including the ones that operate in brick and mortar setups, have a huge presence on the internet. From social media platforms to websites and apps organizations have discovered the benefit of being available on the internet.
On the other hand, consumers use the competition and ease of shopping (over the internet) to their advantage. In a blink of an eye, your customer can move to your competitor, if you cannot offer them the level of customer experience they desire.
Gone are the days when customers based their loyalty on the product or price. Today, they stay true to a company and its product because of the experience they get. What does this mean for a firm that chooses to turn a blind eye to customer experience? You will be on the losing end.
You lose customers and unfortunately, with that attitude, it is nearly impossible to attract more. Businesses have no choice but to give in to and keep up with the ever-changing and growing demands of consumers.
It explains why customer experience has quickly become a top priority for companies and it will be no different in 2020. A survey conducted by Econsultancy revealed that 22 percent of the companies they interviewed identified customer experience as the most exciting 2019’s business opportunity. Content marketing and mobile marketing came second and third with 15 percent and 13 percent respectively.
The following statistics explain where this excitement is coming from:
- Eighty-six percent of customers are usually willing to pay premium prices for better customer experience.
- Seventy-three percent of shoppers say that customer experience is among the most important factors that inform their buying decisions.
- Sixty-five percent of buyers attest to having been influenced by a positive brand experience more than advertising in their purchasing decisions.
- Nearly all the Americans (about 90 percent) pay attention to a company’s customer service when making a purchase decision.
So, part of customer experience can businesses optimize alongside automation?
Customer experience is a relatively wide topic and in this case, we will only emphasize the importance of pursuing consistency.
A business that manages to deliver a one-of-a-kind customer experience succeeds in customer acquisition and retention. And one way you can achieve this is by ensuring consistency because it assists in setting expectations, streamlining customer interactions, building relationships and cultivating trust.
Companies have had difficulties maintaining consistency mainly due to the availability of cross-device shopping through a wide array of channels. Therefore, process and technology change is crucial to ensure consistent customer experience across multiple platforms.
Additionally, consumers must get seamless services across all channels such as the website, social media, chat, and phone which should be based on their real-time behaviors as well as the way they interact with the brand.
When you have consistent customer experience in place in all the company’s touchpoints, it becomes easier to always deliver appropriate content/offers at the right time and place.
In turn, the business will witness effective progress as far as converting prospects into buyers/customers is concerned.
How can your company use automation to ensure consistency in customer experience?
You need automation to not only optimize and standardize but also to streamline business processes like marketing, processing of orders, shipment, and the provision of after-sales support – and in turn, offer a consistent brand experience capable of meeting customer expectations, besides building trust.
Automation also facilitates proper management of customer communications while making sure that none of the customers experience the feeling of being ignored or their needs being overlooked.
For instance, a business can generate a system that allows automatic creation of a workflow as soon as customer email hits the inbox so it can be submitted to the relevant department and then followed up until the issue is resolved.
Automation also gives the company the capacity to closely keep track of business processes and also collect data to help tweak workflows and consequently, improve customer experience.
In a nutshell, automation can help you ensure a consistent customer experience by:
- Helping you augment customer experience with personalization. You already know the critical role that personalization plays in brand differentiation, driving sales and improving conversion – especially in today’s competitive environment. In fact, close to three-quarters of consumers only pay attention to personalized marketing messages that appeal to their specific needs. Are you aware of the fact that 80 percent of people are more likely to buy a product/service from an organization that provides personalized experiences?
- Availing Chatbots that effectively streamline the customer experience. More than half of consumers have a special inclination to contacting a brand through chats or messaging apps instead of calling? Apart from streamlining customer service, the deployment of Chatbots mechanized by automation technologies goes a long way in ensuring the delivery of more relevant experiences for the customers.
- The majority of a company’s internal processes have the potential to affect the customer experience directly. For instance, the use of automated form submission and processing enables companies to reduce errors and also facilitate timely responses.
- Automation technologies can help enhance a customer’s purchasing experience thanks to the availability of real-time data updates about product availability. Combine this with an automated inventory management system and your customers will always get what they want. This advantage doesn’t only benefit the customers. The company also gains because you will never miss a sale for failing to replenish the stock in due time.
With so many automation technologies at your disposal, you cannot blame the business environment or anyone else but yourself, if your company fails to offer a consistent customer experience.
Getting Automation Right
You shouldn’t just automate simply because every other company is doing it. In any case, different organizations have varying needs and processes, while closely related, aren’t a carbon copy.
Therefore, if your company is in the process of investing in automation, make sure you have a solid automation strategy of how this investment will help you achieve your overall goal.
It’s imperative that you get everything right from the word go, or at the very least ensure that nearly every aspect is done correctly the first time. Since it is an investment, organizations must be keen on minimizing wastage of resources.
The secret to getting things right in automation is determining ideal processes to automate. While it can be challenging, it is doable and worth checking (the most appropriate process to automate) to ensure a good return on investment.
Here are a few tell-tale signs that a process requires automation as soon as possible.
- The process involves tedious work and hinders the capacity to concentrate on more valuable projects.
- It entails the heavy application of mouse clicks and screens.
- It involves routine work that must be handled by more than one worker.
- It utilizes digitally-available data.
In other words, go for recurrent, stable processes, and the ones that require little or no human intervention.
Successful automation of processes also demands the engagement of the head of departments and process owners. Speak to them about possible automation of repetitive and business processes.
The only way to get their approval and hence, eliminate the possibility of resistance to change as early as possible is to make them own the idea from the very beginning. You will be surprised at the considerable input and valuable feedback they will be willing to give.
Have brainstorming sessions for potential process automation solutions. Should your team be short of ideas, consider asking leading questions such as;
- Are there processes that could benefit if real-time reports were made available?
- Is it possible to identify administrative tasks affecting customers that are always late because no one in the department wants to handle them?
- Can you remember tasks that your colleagues have ever termed as demotivating due to their repetitive nature?
Resist the urge to concentrate on business process automation alone. Consider the process in totality. Determine how the daily work of serving the customers can improve if some activities were magically accomplished. Last but not least, prioritize your ideas, instead of focusing on the outcome alone. Are you having challenges figuring out how to start your automation journey? Talk to our experts today and start reaping the above benefits and more.