Your front office is the first touchpoint for customers, featuring a cast of people within your organization that connect with sales opportunities, nurture prospects, and handle service and support inquiries. While back-office functions typically include departments like human resources and accounting that support the vital internal functions of running a business, employees in front-office roles are the external face of your organization, curating and executing the customer service experiences espoused by your leading principles.
Front-office processes have a significant influence on a customer’s satisfaction with their overall experience engaging with your organization. Customers desire trouble-free service: a customer service inquiry that takes an hour to resolve or a disappointing interaction with a sales representative can quickly sink a customer’s perception of your organization—and cause a plummet in revenues.
While ‘customer experience’ may sound like fluffy marketing-speak to some, the numbers are in—organizations ignoring this critical piece of the puzzle risk contributing to $62 billion in annual losses due to poorly executed customer journeys.
To bolster front-office initiatives, smart companies are turning to process automation. Analysts predict a 30% increase in the use of process automation for front-office responsibilities by 2023. Automating the processes involved in customer-facing functions can help your organization:
- Enable your sales staff to focus more of their time on selling
- Enrich communication with your customers
- Nurture leads in more captivating and profitable ways
- Improve customer service response times
- Boost general office collaboration
Implementing an office automation system for front-office processes and workflows can have an impact comparable to a growth in staff. Well-orchestrated automated processes can boost the efficiency of sales, marketing, and customer service departments in businesses of all sizes. Front-office automation also has a special impact on small and mid-sized businesses—with the right front-office processes in place, they can better compete with their staff-stacked competitors. Here’s a run-down of the five front-office tasks most ripe for automation.
Automation helps your sales office focus on selling
Your sales team is the lifeblood of your front office, responsible for generating revenue that keeps your business moving forward. However, many sales departments are rife with routine processes that bog down their main function—selling. In fact, some studies estimate sales reps waste almost 65% of their time each day on non-revenue generating tasks.
Don’t distract your team from closing sales by filling their time with simple copy and paste tasks like transferring data between systems to generate contracts. Robotic process automation (RPA) can help your sales team reclaim their day by shifting the responsibility of these more mundane administrative tasks over to a computer code.
RPA can play a vital role in your process automation strategy by shifting the responsibility for completing a task over to a machine capable of following a predetermined set of rules. By connecting to your CRM and other relevant databases, RPA can help populate contract and SLA templates without taking time away from sales activities. Paired with a well-designed automation workflow, your system can then send the contract up the approval ladder to collect e-signatures and other relevant approvals.
Automation can curate a powerhouse list of hot leads
Does your sales team spend a significant portion of their day swimming through contacts and data to identify warm leads? RPA can also help your team collect and collate customer data into a comprehensive list of sizzling hot leads. By combing the behaviors of current customers, RPA can mine your database for similarly behaving prospects.
Additionally, RPA can eliminate the need for time-consuming research into a hot lead’s breaking news or buzz-worthy social media activity. Using automation, a ‘robo-employee’ can monitor the web for key trends and market triggers, and automatically populate your CRM with the details that close sales.
When you free your sales team from the handcuffs of busy work, they’ll have more time to bolster the bottom line by fostering positive relationships with current clients and cultivating profitable new relationships for the future.
Automation can explosively boost email marketing engagement
Your marketing department also plays an important role in your organization’s front office. When it comes to top marketing strategies, email marketing still wears the crown as a medium with one of the highest ROIs—a staggering 3800%.
Using automation, email can become an even more powerful arrow in your marketing quiver. On top of email’s already stunning statistics, personalized automated emails win an additional 18X more revenue than traditional one-size-fits-all broadcast emails.
So, what are automated emails? They’re a series of messages curated to a customer’s behavior or interests. Most popular amongst marketers are drip campaigns, automated campaigns triggered by a certain behavior. When a customer stumbles upon this behavioral tripwire, like downloading a white paper or signing up for a webinar, the system automatically starts sending an email series. Every few days, for example, a new email is sent, each packed with information relevant to that customer’s precise interests.
Automated emails are a great way to preload your system with personalized campaigns that convert sales. You can set up hundreds of automated campaigns based on unique tripwires, ensuring you’re always delivering the right message at the right time.
Automation can deliver lightning-fast customer service support
Perhaps most entrenched in daily communication with your customer base is your service or success team—a critical function of your front office. This department has a dramatic influence on customer satisfaction. How well-oiled the customer support machine runs can make or break your bottom line.
Customers do not have an endless pool of patience. In fact, nearly a third of customers will consider switching companies based on one poor support interaction. For most people, contacting customer service brings about memories of nightmarishly long wait times and a tedious tap dance of keypad inputs. How can you use automation to create a remarkable service experience that delights your customer base?
The same robotic process automation (RPA) that can bolster sales productivity is also the technology behind chatbots. Chabots can shift many simple queries—like password changes or balance inquiries—over to a pre-programmed robot. Instead of utilizing high-value customer support reps to wade through an endless flood of ‘easy questions,’ you can assign chatbots to the job and reserve the more challenging questions for your human reps. RPA can clear the queue at your customer service desk and increase customer satisfaction by reducing the time it takes to satisfy your customer’s needs. Using the right automation strategy, your team can flip the poor reputation of customer service expectations and deliver a spectacular experience to remember.
Automation can increase collaboration across the front office
An organization is only as good as its degree of collaboration. Automation can also help integrate the efforts across your entire front office. Consider the following instances:
- A top customer, on the phone with their success representative, requests a copy of their latest invoice. In a siloed system, the rep has no choice but to forward the call over to an accounting team member who is not at their desk. The top customer is forced to leave a message.
- An employee who works at a huge account calls into your support desk. Their experience with your software is fraught with challenges and frustrations. Without collaboration, your sales or success team has no awareness of the situation and is unable to run interference. Ultimately, the account leaves your company for a competitor.
Automation can break down the walls that silo your departments, so you can gain a new level of visibility into the inner-workings of your organization. In the first example, the sales representative can quickly ping an internal chatbot who immediately provides the latest invoice. If the organization in the second situation used automation, their customer support desk could automatically post an alert in the customer’s CRM profile, signaling a success team member to follow up and prevent the loss of a big account.
Automation has the power to transform your front office and your overall customer experience, with some analysts estimating a jaw-dropping 40-75% cost savings for organizations that adopt automation initiatives like these. A great customer experience will lead to increased loyalty and a glorified reputation—while a poor experience rapidly sheds customers and discredits your authority. By partnering with a process management platform like ProcessMaker, you can enable your team to deliver the best of the best and enjoy the considerable cost savings to boot.