By David Squibb

The core of improving the operational efficiency of your business is to maximize each employee’s time. It is especially crucial for SMBs that are resource constrained. Consistent positive customer interaction always begins internally, with the workers.  Improving their environment helps the business thrive. It isn’t always obvious where to start, but a closer look will show key areas that can lead to substantial improvements.

Streamline and organize information

Research by IDC found that knowledge workers spend an average of 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information. Even reducing a fraction of this time for each employee can make a difference. Analyst firm Gartner found that the rapid creation and retrieval of relevant content will be a key factor in leading enterprises by 2018. It’s a difficult area to monitor and improve, and should be designated as a priority.

Organizing and retrieving Information is a pervasive and time consuming task for every industry. When customer information isn’t in the appropriate location in the CRM, or records are fragmented and poorly organized, it’s irritating for employees and also for customers who don’t want to be asked the same questions over and over. Implementing customer experience solutions that pull stored client data from the CRM into personalized customer materials is essential to reduce time for stakeholders and improve customer interactions.

Invest in automating simple, but time consuming activities

Companies should have no qualms about automating repetitive and time consuming tasks. Document-intensive industries suffer from this the most. Employees deal with a variety of documents every day, from filling out simple forms to more complex ones like contracts. Manufacturing contracts and insurance forms, for example, are cumbersome documents that are often littered with fine print and regulatory requirements. If employees are manually creating, editing and sending documents to each other, that is a significant number of wasted hours. These types of tasks can lead to boredom and lower attention to detail, and even burn out employees, resulting in an uptick in human error.

Today, companies can automate documents from creation through distribution with the right human checkpoints to ensure the process runs smoothly. These aren’t black box investments, where executives aren’t seeing the output. Businesses can monitor how the systems are implemented and used at all times, and make adjustments as necessary.

Automation and electronic documents can make the entry of information much more manageable and improve customer retention rates by simplifying the process. Appropriate use of multimedia can educate customers, quickly deliver information, and limit confusion and calls to support lines.

Support the BYOD generation

Small and large businesses alike are embracing the bring-your-own-device practice in varying capacities. So much so, that the BYOD security market is estimated to account for over $20 billion in 2020. Whether it’s just a few people working remotely or the entire team, executives should empower these workers by investing in a mobile app, or other collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft StaffHub. It’s easy for remote workers to lack the same sense of belonging as those at the office. Teams should meet once or twice a month, in person if possible, to ensure deskless workers are getting what they need. Disparity between office workers and their remote counterparts can cause a drastic reduction in efficiency and misplacement of key information.

Streamlined and collaborative work environments help SMBs improve operations, and maximize the time spent on tedious vs. substantial tasks. There are many others ways to improve efficiency, but these areas are a good place to start and build on.

David Squibb is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Xpertdoc Technologies Inc., a leader in the CXM/CCM technology industry. He has extensive experience in sales, marketing, account management and P&L operations, which have helped him lead a highly successful $38M software and professional service business. At Xpertdoc, named as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada by Profit 500, David leads a team of top sales and marketing professionals, where they help companies that are focused on growth and client retention to leverage their wealth of client data to more effectively communicate with their customers.