Being a small business owner and managing the business processes to identify and solve real business growth issues, in a fast-paced, high-stress work environment, is challenging. If we are honest with ourselves, many business areas must be managed simultaneously, and we have limited time and people to manage our businesses. Directly related to our financial success, is the ability to develop and implement work processes that, through automation, can be proactively managed.
These work processes include maintaining and tracking customer service, human resources, resource allocation, litigation protection, and billing issues. With service businesses, there is also managing time such as employee time, project time, and installation time.
Over the last twenty years of building my businesses, this has been an ongoing challenge, and finding the solution is the core of Business Manager 365. Our software was specifically designed to identify and solve business-related issues while automating and implementing solutions based on the work process configured within the software.
Automation reduces the human factor for mistakes and catches the overlooked factors that might affect customer service, costing you time, money, and clients.
If Business Manager 365 is not the right software for you, hopefully, you can learn something regarding what software should be doing for your business and how to implement work processes that are not wholly human-dependent.
As part of any software selection process, the human factor must play a part. This could either be the human process within your business or your customers. When it comes to the customer, as a service business, we have to understand that the customer experience and customer satisfaction are not the same thing; however, they are intimately related.
Why is this important? Because as a service business, how we operate is going to dictate the customer experience. We have to be in tune with the customer’s needs from their perspective. We must know how selecting our software will improve their experience. Or else, the business processes are going to frustrate and hamper them, creating a negative customer experience.
Over the last twenty years of the development of Business Manager 365, we have worked with our customers to ensure that the software delivers on their expectations. Making the software is valuable to them is done by learning how they need their business to interface with the software, and how their customers interface with the service provider. According to ZooVU.com, here are some key points that you can use to make sure that you are providing the customer experience you want:
- Accessibility – As a service business, accessibility is vital. If your customers cannot get in touch with you, or their requests are not being completed promptly, then you are creating barriers for them while they are trying to run and manage their business. This would create friction and show a lack of accessibility. Business Manager 365 provides several contact methods through the web portal, email, and mobile app. Once those requests are received by Business Manager 365, the software puts those requests into a work process that documents every aspect of the lifecycle of that request.
- Navigation – Not only is the human workflow essential, but the software workflow is also critical to the success of the software. The software should be straightforward and walk you through what fields need input to provide you with the output you expect and need to make data -driven workflow and customer service decisions. If it is difficult, your customers won’t want to use it. Furthermore, the missing or incomplete data will create data gaps.
Keep in mind that business management software is different from a simple helpdesk solution. Business management software requires more data to perform trending, business load calculations, productivity measurements, and litigation protections through data collection and proof of service. These factors can be complicated for some internal staff to understand; however, it depends on your goals. Do you want to identify underlying issues so that proper budgeting can focus on real issues, or do you want to know you had a problem?
Business Manager 365 has all these components of business management built into its algorithms. You can report on the trends and exposed needs of your customers based on actual data, instead of a perception of what people think are problems. Time, money, and resources can all be spent on real problems.
- Memory – According to a Harvard Business Review, one of the most frustrating things customers complain about is repetition when it comes to service-based businesses. Having to repeat or redo troubleshooting or conversations they have already had to support their requests is a common complaint from customers. Customers expect that information and communication regarding their issues, problems, or interactions are to follow them until they are resolved. They don’t want to be asked the same questions time and time again.
This is where the human factor interferes with customer service and experience. The data in any system is only as good as the data being input by a human. There are several safety nets within Business Manager 365. The work processes within Business Manager 365 tie the ticket time to the time and attendance system. Hence, there is a productivity measurement tied to proper ticket updates, along with required fields to ensure that at least minimal data is collected to perform employee and customer trending. Business Manager 365 also has a Client Information database. This database is highly customizable depending on your needs and is also available on all support and project management screens within Business Manager 365.
- Convenience – There are many factors to convenience- internal convenience, and customer convenience. Internal convenience is how quickly your employees can move between software sections, how fast the data can be displayed, and the overall ease of moving through the system. Externally, the factors don’t change much; customers want access to their data, your products, and ultimately the ease of use and data retrieval. There are a lot of subcategories of convenience; here are a few:
- Decision Convenience: How quickly can a customer decide what information they need, or what products they need access to? This is why Business Manager 365 uses a generic integrated bar code system, which can be utilized within Inventory and Asset Management. Business Manager 365’s barcoding system can catalog and track just about anything you want to put a bar code on and enter into the Inventory and Asset Management systems. By using the automated update processes within Business Manager 365, you get a continuous understanding of the status of your service or project ticket, what has been done, and what has not yet been completed. The mobile app also ensures this information is available anytime, anywhere.
- Access Convenience: How easy is it to access information within the software, and how robust are its search capabilities? Business Manager 365 utilizes the integrated bar code system to quickly pull up purchase information, warranty information, user information, pictures, and specifications.
- Benefits Convenience: Being able to display and use the core benefits of the software and work processes within the software are parts of the benefits convenience. Examples of work processes that Business Manager 365 has as part of its core product include escalation processes, updates, order information, customer information, documents, parts and inventory, human resources, email notifications, billing information, time, and attendance, and more.
- Transaction Convenience: Transaction convenience can mean many things to many different businesses. In the service business, it is typically about tracking time against a contract to ensure that the customer is receiving value and measuring the profitability of your business. Tracking and trending are some of the core functions of Business Manager 365. Transaction convenience also provides a legal record and tracking of activities. You, as the provider, can then prove what, who, and when you provided the service, parts, or other products. By default, Business Manager 365 can also provide litigation protections through the work processes and documentation. Through its API interface with QuickBooks Cloud Pro, Business Manager 365 can also perform billing transactions, progress billing, and payment information
- Post Benefit Convenience: What happens after the service or project is completed, and how are you handling issues after the initial interaction and service? Business Manager 365 has a built-in Quality Assurance module that can poll your customers on how they feel about your service. If dissatisfied, the system will automatically open a new ticket- that is tied to the original service ticket- and automatically escalate that ticket to a management-level person. This work process allows continuous polling and provides documentation on what you did and how you ultimately resolved the issue.
Defining a workflow process can be challenging. Identifying a workflow is the documentation of a series of activities or tasks that must be done in a specific order to achieve a business-based outcome. Here is an example: Suppose I see people using Excel spreadsheets, Google sheets, or some other product unrelated to our business management software. In that case, I discuss with them the reason they are not using our business management software for that process. Google Sheets and Excel spreadsheets are what I call disassociated data; it is valuable data, but only to those who possess the data. It can’t be used for internal or external trending or business decision-making on a global basis. Also, more than likely, you are going to have employees recreating the same data and processes because of the gap of knowledge between those who have access to specific data, those who don’t, and those who need it.
According to integrify.com, these are other benefits of automating workflow and process development:
- Streamlining and expediting internal workflow by reducing double or triple entry and data availability
- Tracking request status in real-time
- Trending models, both internally and externally, over a period of time
- Eliminating or combining process redundancies
- Parallel processing of task and data entry
- Enforces corporate work processes and organizational rules
- The ability to manage and notify of tasks
- 24/7 access to data and monitoring for escalation requirements, missed tasks, or delays in service requests
- Reduce licensing overhead, utilizing one integrated business management software (ERP, CRM)
- Reduce entry errors and re-work created by the human factor
Business Manager 365 manages all these processes through automated tools and workflow processes.
Developing good, solid workflow and work processes can be critical to your long-term success and customer satisfaction. People like to know what to expect and want to know the issues that might arise from the project or service you are providing. Internally, work processes can help your employees work through the day-to-day issues, and it refines and improves the overall efficiency of the process the more people use it. Not having well-defined and enforceable work processes can lead to some of the following issues:
- Customer complaints about the quality of the product or service provided
- Employees, vendors, and sub-contractors get frustrated because of unreasonable delays or mistakes
- Duplicated work, repeated troubleshooting processes, redundant conversations about the same issue, or the issue never being resolved
- Unforeseen cost increases, either in the product or the labor
- Wasted resources, parts, or equipment that was purchased and not used, expired return policies and changes in employees
- Missed deadlines without knowledge or communication
Over the last two decades, I have been passionate and uncompromising that using data-driven trending models can help you grow your business, avoid human errors, identify real business issues, increase productivity through workflow and work process management, reduce billing mistakes, and provide a better customer experience. Since the software is managing the business process, not the people of the business, it reduces onboarding costs and training costs because the software puts the human into an automated workflow versus the human driving the workflow.