Better. Stronger. Faster.
Many organizations have had to lay off staff. As a result, there are fewer staff to carry the client load and the delivery of their products or services. With team members working harder to ensure the work gets delivered, this is where automation can really make a huge difference.
We’re also seeing other organizations who are undergoing massive growth because of the pandemic. For example, I have a client in the security guard industry who added 200 new clients which meant they had to hire 400 new security guards. Their administration was just drowning in details and in the paperwork necessary to make that happen.
Whether you’re an organization that has had to lay people off and is working with a smaller team or you’re an organization who has experienced rapid growth, automation can help you.
Some of you are old enough to remember the Six Million Dollar Man. Do you remember the tagline? Better. Stronger. Faster That’s what we’re going to share with you here — but without the $6 million budget!
Benefits of Automation
Without a doubt automation will make your organization faster.
Every business has a number of routine, day-to-day functions that need to be accomplished and the truth is they don’t require much human interaction — if any at all. These tasks tend to fall to our all-important admin staff. These are critical team members because they tend to keep all the wheels moving in the business. Automation can make them faster and also create the space for them to put their skills and attention into higher value-add activities — such as client experience functions that could greatly enhance your customer service..
And in some cases, organizations have realized that they’re even a little heavy on the admin side from a staffing perspective simply because the work is being done manually even though technology is available now to accomplish that work much more quickly.
Another key reason to automate is to increase the reliability of your business. You see, if automation systems make a mistake, they let you know a mistake has been made. You’re able to catch those mistakes right away and fix them permanently. Wherever human beings are involved mistakes will also be made, things get missed, and forgotten. The challenge is they don’t always want to tell us they made a mistake so errors can literally go unchecked for years instead of getting identified and fixed immediately. That comes with increased costs, poorer quality service, and a deep loss of productivity.
Fundamentally, automation can help you deliver a more consistent experience right across the board and make you and your staff more available for the really important stuff.
I think these day-to-day details that bog us down are important. Let’s face it, they exist for a reason. But we need to challenge them regularly.
When we’re coaching our clients about these issues, we will inevitably ask, “Why are you doing this?” and “Does it even need to be done?” The reason we ask is because sometimes they’ve just grown used to a certain way of delivering their product or service and are not looking at it critically to identify how things can be improved
For tasks that cannot be eliminated, we want to automate them wherever possible. It can free up your team to spend more time on doing things that will make the business stronger, like improving the client experience. You can take a lot of pressure off your staff by eliminating the routine, mundane work and get them focused on monitoring processes to identify how they can continue to improve the business.
Pay Now or Pay Later
Whether you automate or not, you will pay for that decision. Pay now or pay later, but you’re paying one way or another. If you don’t leverage these kinds of systems you’re paying a price. Your people are paying a price with low value work that is not as fulfilling or as productive. Your organization is paying a price. And you’re likely paying the price as well trying to fill in the gaps, making things right with clients, and often, the time and energy required to help your team perform the way you know they need to.
Automation is particularly important for the single owner/operator business as well. The owner literally has to do everything. If this is you, you’ll discover that automation is a godsend. It will free you up to do the things that only you can do.
My encouragement to you is to understand that you’re going to pay one way or another. But if you pay now and put in the time, the energy, the effort to build your systems properly and use as much automation as you can, the dividends you will get back, the time you will get back, the ease of work that you will experience is so worth it.
If you choose to pay later, the truth is you just keep paying and the business doesn’t get better, stronger, or faster.
Automation in Motion
We regularly get asked, “Where do I start?” and “What systems do I work on?” so I thought it would be helpful to provide a couple of examples of what we’ve done at Rhapsody to help bring this to life.
New Client Onboarding
A great place to introduce automation is when you welcome a new client into the business. You want to make sure that you deliver a fantastic experience every time.
In today’s economy, in today’s marketplace, it’s not what you do that matters, because you’re not the only one offering that product or service. If you’re like most businesses, you’re probably in a flooded marketplace. I know we are. Data from almost 5 years ago tells us there are over 50,000 Coaches out there, and that number is going up. You’ve probably got lots of competitors with a similar offering as well. It’s not what you do that matters, but how you do it. It’s the quality of that client experience that will really set you apart, differentiate you from all of your competition, and create those loyal raving fans that keep coming back for more and bring others with them. There’s nothing better than creating positive word of mouth, and that comes through a great experience that’s evolving all the time.
The problem with creating that experience is that it takes a great deal of time and effort. When I talk to leaders about the importance of a strong client experience I’ve never had a client push back and say, “No, you’re wrong. I don’t think client experience matters.” They always respond by saying, “I’ve been wanting to do this, and I’ve been wanting to add this feature and I’ve been wanting to communicate more regularly with my clients.” Everyone agrees to this conceptually. When it comes to the actual hard work of doing it consistently with every single client, without systems and without automation, it’s very difficult.
At Rhapsody we’ve focused our energy on this and created a simple, automated form that has led to big changes. When one of our Coaches welcomes a new client to the business, the Coach simply fills out an online form and that form triggers all of our onboarding systems that talk to one another to create and perform a series of important functions. It activates everything adding the client to our CRM, setting them up in our financial software, auto generating the first invoice, communicating with the client and welcoming them onboard, and notifying team members of the actions they need to take next. All of this happens automatically.
What took a support team member an hour now takes about a minute, and that’s to fill out the form, which includes information that our Coaches were providing anyway. All of the other activities happen automatically. They happen consistently. Nothing gets missed. The impact has been amazing. Better yet, the impact was instant. You could feel how the business changed as soon as we finalized this.
Another area where we’ve introduced automation is with our client feedback loops. We do this for every single engagement with our clients no matter where they are in the world.
Most of you are familiar with a CRM, a client relationship management system. It’s a database that tracks all of your contacts and you can use it to email and communicate with subsets of those contacts. Used properly, a CRM can be very powerful. The problem, again, is usually user error where data’s not being entered in the same way every time so when you try to run reports, you’re not really getting the information you need. Again, with automation, the information is being entered the way we want it to every single time.
Our CRM is directly linked to our client feedback process. When a client engages in short-term Coaching experience with us and that engagement has come to an end, we simply add a tag to their record in our CRM — it takes about 30 seconds to do — and it initiates our client feedback process. It initiates an automated system that reaches out to them up to three times asking them simply to rate us on a scale of one-to-10 on the quality of our service and how likely they’d be to refer us.
If a client rates us eight or higher, they automatically get a “Thank you” email with the testimonial they actually provided us as part of that feedback process included in the email along with a link directly to our Google review page and our Facebook page asking them if they would be willing to copy and paste that testimonial right into our review pages. This is a great help to the business and helps us understand how we’re performing overall.
Feedback is the breakfast of champions. ~ Ken Blanchard
There have also been a very small number of times when we have received low scores from clients. Two in total. And in both cases, because of this system, we were able to find out about their dissatisfaction and we were able to address it with them. In both cases, based on the corrective action we were able to take, those clients gave us a 10 out of 10 rating as a result of the experience.
For our ongoing clients, the system will reach out to them every six months and ask for their feedback automatically. Again, we use the same process described above. This means we’re able to constantly mine business intelligence about how we can improve and that feedback is sent automatically then to the relevant Coach so they have it directly.
This is happening with every single Rhapsody client and we’re generating regular reviews to our Google review page and our Facebook page without any additional work. All of this happens based on assigning a single tag to a client profile. Automation is doing all the heavy lifting.
Where Should We Start?
Clients regularly ask where to start. There are times when everything seems so overwhelming that it’s hard to know where to begin. Here are two things to look at.
First, is to look for the highest leverage areas to improve your client experience. We’ve worked with hundreds of companies and thousands of leaders and two areas for improving your client experience that keep emerging are the client onboarding process and when clients exit.
If that seems a little too daunting, then I would suggest the following: identify where you are seeing the mistakes regularly in the business. Ask yourself what parts of the daily routine are stressing you out the most? Where are you seeing the greatest inconsistencies? Make a hit list of maybe five to 10 areas that you can look at over the next several months to introduce some level of automation to make them easier. Either you start with high leverage areas that will always win you big gains, which are client onboarding, client feedback, and the other is what’s causing you the most pain and start there.
When Should We Start?
There’s an old saying that says “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time, today.” Get started right away. Find a high leverage area of the business or a high level of pain and start now, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. We didn’t get to where we are now overnight. And the automation was added to systems that were already very strong. We had that going for us. It was a question of getting them talking to each other and automating the flow of work so that now literally, the time and energy that’s saved is tremendous.
The time is now. And for those who would say, “But I don’t have the time,” I need to tell you that I hear this all the time when we talk systems. So think about it this way: If you don’t have time to do it right, you must have time to do it over and over and over and over.
If you know you need to make some changes in your business then don’t wait. Each day the cost of delay will grow, and each day automated systems are running will make the business stronger.
If you need a hand, reach out to me directly and we can talk about how you can get started on the right foot. We’ve got the diagnostic tools and methodologies that will help you take stock and make the critical decisions up front with confidence.