Collecting money from customers should be one thing at which all businesses excel. Regardless of how well a company manufactures products, provides services, recruits and trains staff, keeps costs down or drums up positive name recognition, if it struggles to collect money, it’s putting itself in danger of critical cashflow problems and lost sales.
Despite the seemingly obvious importance of smooth, efficient order and payment processing, everyday experiences illustrate how poorly many companies manage the part of the sales process where they actually get the money. Readers have no doubt experienced the frustration of a point-of-sale computer failing to read a credit card, sitting on hold with customer service after an order was recorded incorrectly, or jumping from one website page to another trying to figure out how to buy something.
Many of the issues companies face with order processing are due to poorly designed or executed processes, while others are due to simple human error. Fortunately, robotic process automation (RPA) can be an extremely useful and cost-effective solution.
Let’s consider some key benefits of RPA in order processing.
Unlike humans, robots and computers don’t need to eat, sleep, take care of kids, go on vacation, etc. An RPA order processing system can run 24x7x365, allowing customers to place orders regardless of their time zones or sleeping habits and regardless of major holidays or other scheduling challenges.
Management of Complex Processes
Order processing can vary widely in complexity. A vendor operating a booth at a farmers’ market may only need to know how to make change for cash payments, whereas a liquor store needs to verify the age of its customers, a gun shop needs to process background checks, and a supplier of computer encryption technology needs to navigate a variety of export controls.
Outside of legal and regulatory concerns, orders often involve tracking delivery dates, times, and locations, arranging carriers, producing and tracking invoices, and tracking sales commissions.
These are just a few examples of the complexity that can be involved in the order processing function. And, of course, complexity generally means more opportunities for people to make mistakes. RPA is a great solution to avoid mistakes in complex processes because computers are far better than human beings at providing consistent results.
Readily Available Sales Metrics
Data can be a real boon to businesses that are good at gathering it and know how to make sense of it. But for human staff already struggling to stay on top of order processing, to simultaneously gather sales metrics can be a daunting endeavor. If data is tracked inconsistently across team members or even by the same team member across different orders, the integrity and usefulness of the data can be lost.
RPA can be programmed to automatically keep track of key data without missing a step in the primary order processing function. RPA in order processing can track metrics like the number of repeat customers, the cost of fulfilling an average order, the return rate of goods sold and even demographic information about customers. All that data can be used to improve the business’s performance and profitability.
Greater Efficiency and Reduced Costs
Fewer errors mean less rework. Round the clock service means more orders can be processed per day. Greater data collection means better decision making. All of these factors contribute to the improved efficiency and reduced costs of RPA in order processing.
Additionally, the cost to add one more RPA robot is typically far less than the cost of hiring another human worker, especially as the underlying RPA program is leveraged across multiple robots. It isn’t necessary to train each RPA instance – the relevant programs can simply be copied onto new hardware.
Ability of Staff to Focus on Strategic Issues
Regardless of the application, adding RPA to a company’s staffing mix usually frees human workers to focus on more strategic issues. It’s difficult for human workers to think about the big picture when they’re bogged down in the details of a complex process, trying to put out fires and jumping from one crisis to another. When RPA is smoothly managing the high-volume, mundane work, the humans can take a step back and think about potential process improvements and the broader customer experience.
Collecting money is the fundamental purpose of most businesses, so it’s surprising how bad some companies and industries are at processing orders. RPA is a great solution for companies struggling with their order processing functions or for those that may be operating fairly smoothly but want some added efficiencies and insights from customer data.
Ready to learn more? Get in touch to learn more about NITCO’s RPA solutions.