Optimising customer service: automating manual data entry | Transalis Blog

As advocates for digital transformation, we know there are opportunities across business departments to eliminate manual data entry tasks, including customer service automation.

Removing manual data entry from the customer service team is a strategy we explore in our report; Retail resilience in a time of recession. This blog details how automation of customer service data entry can benefit businesses on limited budgets.

A report from Transalis

This topic is featured in our Retail Resilience report. Get your own complete copy.

Business financial stability in uncertain times

It’s not news that businesses are currently under financial pressure. Forecasts for the year have been rather gloomy, but unsurprising given the circumstances:

  • Post-pandemic

  • Post-Brexit

  • Ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine

  • Significant reduction in consumer spending

  • Rising inflation rates

  • Expected recession

The current environment is not conducive for most businesses.

As a result, organisations across the board have needed to scrutinise their outgoing costs. This likely resulted in reduced investment, possible job losses, and conservative spending strategies for the foreseeable. Whilst this is not an unexpected financial strategy as revenues tighten, forward-thinking businesses should not avoid opportunities for long-term growth.

Therefore, return on spend, or ROI, should be at the forefront of every retail business’ collective mind. Cuts to spending can be made in most business departments, however, this will likely stifle any opportunity for scale. Whereas, making select investments in the right places ensures long-term savings and supports future business growth.

Manual data entry in customer service

The customer service department is a prime investment opportunity, for the reasons given above.

Despite relationship management and customer success being objectives of this department, many CX teams find themselves in an ongoing cycle of manual data entry. CRM and ERP systems tend to be the main culprits. Even with these systems, customer orders and invoice documentation are rekeyed individually. This is both a time-consuming and error-prone process, which takes CX teams away from higher-value work.

This manual approach to customer service data entry can prove detrimental to the business over time. In reality, CX teams could spend more time on data management than exploring additional business opportunities within the existing client base. This could lead to missed revenue, result in data entry errors, and influence a higher churn rate.

CX digital transformation

Repurposing the existing departmental budget and investing in digital transformation means manual data processing is eliminated.

Harnessing EDI technology and other business automation solutions removes the risk of manual data entry errors. But customer experience automation is not solely about reducing errors in data input. Automating data entry tasks that the customer service team undertakes also frees time to be spent on more revenue-generating projects. Ultimately, automating data entry tasks means businesses can achieve greater efficiency and cut overhead costs.

A case for customer service automation

Earlier this year, Transalis undertook a process review for a manufacturer selling natural pet products via their retail channels and Direct to Consumer (D2C). The bullet point list below highlights the findings from an analysis conducted with the client. This concluded that it took their customer service team 2 days a week to manually process incoming orders for a single D2C channel.

  • Days per week given to order processing per marketplace: 2

  • Number of D2C: 4

  • Total days per week: 8

  • Total FTE required per week: 1.6

  • Annual salary costs per FTE: £28,000

  • Total annual cost: £44,800

This clearly was not an optimal use of the customer team’s time. Especially when considering that this client had multiple channels to manage. Therefore, having visibility over how these processes affect the efficiency of a whole business area enables an organisation to address it with a new strategy.

Strategies for customer experience automation

One way organisations can automate processing within their customer service/customer success/customer experience teams is by connecting more suppliers to EDI. Expanding the EDI message set being used (e.g. in addition to orders, invoices and ASNs) means that organisations can automate even more processes across different departments.

In addition, utilising EDI integrations offers even more opportunities to free up customer service teams from manual tasks and associated data entry mistakes. These integrations automate data entry by routing information from one system to another without any manual intervention.

Outside of direct EDI connections in the supply chain network, organisations can also look at converting “paper” documents that are commonly processed by customer teams. PDFs, scans, email attachments etc, are all examples of “paper” documents that require rekeying or some form of manual processing into internal business systems. Thankfully, this can also be tackled with automation solutions, as they capture and extract the relevant data, and convert it into data files that can be imported directly into an ERP or other application.

Overall, there are multiple strategies to approach data entry automation, which are applicable to customer service/customer success/customer experience teams. The existing processes and systems within these teams will influence whether a singular approach or a combination of these strategies is more appropriate.

eDI Software

To discuss what cx automation approach would be best to implement in your business to eliminate manual data entry and reduce data entry errors, contact our helpful team: 0845 123 3746 (UK callers) or +44 1978 369 343 (international callers), or contact us via email sales@transalis.com.

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