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CUSTOMER CARE TODAY WILL BUILD RESILIENCE FOR FUTURE CRISES

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Cathal McGloin, CEO of ServisBOT writes, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created major spikes in calls to financial sector helplines dealing with customers who are concerned about temporary business closures, or seeking information on mortgage holidays and insurance cover.

 

Easing the pressure

With call volumes surging at many contact centres, moving customers from a voice to a text-based channel and encouraging some of them to self-serve via your website or mobile app helps to reduce pressure on contact centre agents. A call-deflection solution doesn’t have to be complex, costly or time-intensive, but it can be extremely effective in managing additional call volumes more cost-effectively, while still providing your customers the information that they need to allay their concerns.

If customers are able to interact with a chatbot initially and this resolves their immediate queries, this can significantly reduce call volumes and the business can still enable the bot to handover to a customer service agent for customers that require further assistance.

 

Setting up a Chatbot in 48 hours

Whether your interactive voice response (IVR) is based on legacy technology or is a modern cloud-based solution, it’s possible to deflect customers from an inbound voice channel to a messaging channel. We know, because we have done this for a client who considered this impossible with their legacy on-premise IVR system. Spinning up a solution took just 2 days and allowed them to successfully deflect calls, automate the response, and still offer customers a path to live chat.

 

Employing a Chatbot as a Call Deflection Solution

Financial services businesses can launch a very simple bot. The bot can be as simple as just pointing a customer to the COVID-19 FAQ page or it can be an extension of an existing customer service bot that offers multiple capabilities. On day one it may just be used to quickly assess queries and handover to a live agent. However, by gathering the training phrases from customer chats, the bot can be made progressively smarter and add capabilities, so that it can be trained over the course of  a week to start automating your customer service

After a week the bot can start automating to become more self-sufficient and take more of the burden from your customer service agents, allowing them to handle more complex customer issues.

Using a chatbot opens up a whole new path to automation.  Once customers start to engage with your intelligent virtual agent, the bot can handle simple requests, direct them to the relevant information on your website, or help them transact in a self-service manner. All of this can happen without the need for them to engage with an agent unless they specifically request this, or the bot escalates the request to an agent. It can even be integrated with your live chat systems so that the bot works in parallel with live agents when needed.

 

Future proofing

During crisis periods, when interactions with concerned customers need to be handled well, call deflection using a chatbot or virtual agent takes the pressure off contact centre agents. It also introduces an automation path that can help customers around the clock.

Once your chatbot has been trained to respond to common customer queries round the clock and reduce the pressure on your contact centre staff, your employees can focus on providing the best care for your customers who urgently need to speak to them. Introducing virtual assistants sends a clear message to your customers that they are your priority and increases the resilience of your business against future emergencies.

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NutreeLife triples production with finance from Siemens Financial Services

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Plant-based snack manufacturer NutreeLife has massively increased its production capacity with the help of a hire purchase solution from Siemens Financial Services (SFS).

Founded in 2017, NutreeLife is a rapidly growing company which produces vegan protein bars, snacks and other healthy vegan products. Following a significant increase in demand, the manufacturer wanted to invest in a new production line.

As Patrick Mroczak, MD and CEO at NutreeLife Ltd explains, “We were ready to invest in the next stage of business development. We needed new equipment to meet demand but we also wanted to preserve our cash flow to deal with the volatility of the pandemic.”

To protect the business’ working capital, SFS suggested a hire purchase arrangement. Under the agreement, NutreeLife could acquire the equipment immediately and with no upfront costs. Instead, SFS tailored the arrangement so that the company could spread the cost over 5 years in regular payments and at the end of the arrangement NutreeLife will automatically own the equipment outright.

Under the hire purchase solution, the manufacturer also met the conditions for the UK government’s super-deduction tax initiative, whereby a company investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets is able to claim 130% of the equipment’s value in year one.

“As a relatively new business, it’s not always easy to gain access to the right finance at a good price but SFS were incredibly accommodating. They really understood the benefit of the technology for our business and helped us unlock the investment,” adds Mroczak.

With the new equipment and technology installed, NutreeLife has been able to triple its production and turnover, and expand operations in tow.

“Despite the ups and downs of the pandemic, the new production line has helped us to keep things moving. As demand rises we’ve been able to take on much more staff and use our working capital towards stockpiling raw materials when needed.”

And the business’ success has not gone unnoticed. NutreeLife was awarded Small Business of the Year at the 2021 Lancashire’s Be Inspired Business Awards (BIBAs).

“Working with SFS has truly opened up news avenues of business for us. The team is so fast and responsive and clearly dedicated to finding the best solution for our machinery needs,” comments Mroczak.

Kirsty Talmage-Rostron, Business Development Manager – UK South at Siemens Financial Services comments, “It’s always exciting to work with an innovative award-winning manufacturer like NutreeLife. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we’ve been able to help the business rapidly develop and look forward to continuing to support this growth strategy as the business expands into new markets.”

 

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HYDR DEVELOPS INVOICE FINANCE PLATFORM TO INTEGRATE WITH MAJOR CLOUD ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE PROVIDERS

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MANCHESTER – UK – 17th January 2022 – Fintech start-up, Hydr has developed its proprietary invoice finance platform to integrate with more major cloud accounting software providers including Sage and QuickBooks.

After launching exclusively with Xero in May, the Hydr platform can now be accessed by millions more SMEs in the UK who want to leverage their unpaid invoices to optimise cash flow and help fuel their growth.

Users of Sage, FreeAgent, KashFlow, QuickBooks and Xero who sign up with Hydr can get paid almost immediately for the work they have completed and invoiced, rather than having to wait out long payment terms and even having to consider extending their borrowings to maintain working capital.

Customers who link their account to the Hydr platform can expect a class-leading, seamless integration. No duplication of data is needed, they simply continue to raise their invoices with their cloud accounting provider as normal and Hydr will do the rest, funding approved invoices within 24 hours.

Hydr co-founder, Nicola Weedall said, “We’re so pleased to have achieved this product milestone. The impact of long payment terms and late payments is affecting millions of small businesses in the UK; many are navigating CBILS repayments and ramping up post-Covid trading which can put a strain on working capital. We feel so strongly that getting paid early is the best way of optimising cash flow, far better than extending borrowings.”

Hydr co-founder, Hector Macandrew said, “Invoice finance in years gone by has often been complicated and time consuming to apply for, complex to manage and opaque in pricing. It is absolutely ripe for disruption and cloud accounting and open banking has made this reinvention achievable. With our simple, transparent and fairly priced proposition, it is now more accessible and attractive to small businesses than ever. We encourage more businesses to consider it.”

Hydr helps small businesses optimise their cash flow with fully digital onboarding that takes just 15 minutes. Hydr’s platform connects with a company’s data and financial information creating a seamless digital experience without the need for the company to submit any additional paperwork. Funding decisions are given in real time and Hydr pays 100% of the value of an invoice (rather than the traditional 70-90%) within 24 hours, minus a transparent, fairly priced fixed fee. Once quoted, the fee never, ever changes and includes credit insurance.

Hydr works with small businesses registered in England in Wales that sell products or services to other businesses (B2B).

 

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