5 min read

Banking on AI: Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service

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A bank’s AI goals should look beyond cost reduction, welcome though that is. This technology has the capacity to do much more. Indeed, it can completely transform on institution from the core.” (Accenture, Redefine Banking with Artificial Intelligence)


In our recent Banking on AI article, we gave an overview of the rapid pace of AI evolution in the banking sector and looked at the limitless opportunity to automate functions and augment the banking workplace. Microsft’s Dynamics 365 AI solutions feature the most impactful and proprietary AI capabilities in global technology, and support banking organisations to deliver meaningful customer experience. Rich banking data across the business turns into proactive ideas and actions.

Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service

In this follow up article, we’ll take a closer look at Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service for banking. These AI technologies are helping front line sales and service banking agents make better use of their time, enabling managers to use team resources more efficiently than ever and improving satisfaction and experience, no matter which platform customers are engaging on.

In a recent Intelligent Economies survey by Microsoft, AI use is reportedly high amongst banking organisations worldwide. Nearly half (48%) of banking and financial services leaders reported that they’d already implemented virtual agent technology, with more than a third making use of both machine learning (36%) and predictive analytics (38%). Broad examples of these tools in action are:

  • Virtual Agent can be deployed proactively to resolve common service queries and frequently asked questions but can also be configured quickly to react and problem-solve when new, emerging issues arise.
  • Predictive analytics can be used to analyse account behavior and identify the potential risk of lending defaults.
  • Machine learning can monitor account behaviour and highlight any activity or transactional patterns that may suggest fraud or risk.

AI drives market differentiation and competitive advantage

Microsoft’s position on AI is that the technology works best when the people closest to a problem are empowered with the AI tools to solve it themselves. This is made easy with the low-code, no-code point and click technology which is at the heart of their AI development, putting problem-solving capabilities in business users’ hands. When individuals and teams create their own solutions, as and when they need them, it increases team competencies and heightens impact and ownership. Which of course, leads the way to strong differentiation and provides maximum competitive advantage.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service

Which brings us back to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service. Together, these solutions provide banking customer service managers with a 360-degree overview of service operations and allow customers to access not only immediate but intelligent responses to each and every request. What’s more service levels are measurable and unified, whether getting in touch by telephone, text, online or via banking apps.

At Redspire, we recommend Customer Insights and Virtual Agent as some of the most impressive tools for delivering enhanced customer experiences to retail and commercial banking customers. The combination of service operations and machine learned insights means users can make use of all the data coming into the system to make smarter decisions on what to optimise and what to automate. A simple overview of the tools in action include:

  1. Data is constantly being fed into Dynamics 365 from omni-channel customer support queries, cases being raised and transactional requests.
  2. Customer Insights AI analyses these support cases them groups them into similar themes and topics to identify potential problems in real-time and inform non-technicaly teams that action is required. For example, a card provider’s hardware outage would lead to query spikes or increased online banking activity, as banking customers are unable to use their debit cards and call to report the issue. Or a branch emergency closure would lead to a rise in transactional calls and online activity.
  3. Before these calls become a drain on front line agents or support staff, business users of varying skill capability can quickly and easily configure automated conversations with a Virtual Agent bot via a web based application. The bot can engage, inform, easily take action and interact with existing systems to transact or problem solve to the customer’s satisfaction where possible, or escalate to a human for higher touch resolution where required.
  4. Throughout these conversations and transactions, Virtual Agent is constantly learning, mining user feedback and getting smarter over time. This continual improvement steers best practice with human teams and recommends future actions to update the bot in the interface to provide the greatest impact.
  5. Visual dashboards and business analytics on the service scenarios report and allow customer service managers to quickly evaluate and act to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and maintain customer satisfaction levels.

As aI technology evolves and grows progressively more sophisticated, the complexity of the tasks that bots and virtual agents take on will continue to grow. Virtual agents will collaborate with team members, for example by prompting them to ask the right questions throughout customer calls or will pro-actively serve them with customer data or product information, without the human agent having to search manually.

Redspire: the leading digital transformation partner for Banking and Financial Services

IF you’d like more information on Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service get in touch today. At Redspire, when we partner with you to implement Microsoft’s leading AI technologies, we become your dedicated Dynamics partner throughout your whole improvement journey.

We have particularly strong capabilities in Banking and Financial Services, FMCG, Government, and Third Sector and have worked on the biggest operational challenges facing these industries today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service, our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the AI-driven Power Platform, we help our clients achieve service excellence and deliver transformation projects that promises return on investment.

Contact us today

For more information on the Future of Banking download our Future of Banking white paper. To discuss what Microsoft and Artificial Intelligence can offer your organisation, get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us on info@redspire.co.uk.

5 min read

The Power Platform for Insurance: automating car insurance claims with PowerApps, Flow and Power BI

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Earlier this week we took a good look at the Power Platform for the Insurance sector. In this third part of our Power Platform for insurance series, we’re looking at automating car insurance claims processes using the Power Platform’s capabilities, and integrations with the wider Microsoft stack.

There are endless use cases and opportunities to Analyse, Act and Automate processes within your own insurance business, in particular with over 400 new capabilities released across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform this month. This short use case will provide some context for the tools in action, showcasing incredible customer and partner engagement and highlight rich data insights.

A summary of the Power Platform

For those who haven’t read our recent articles on the Power Platform, here’s a short summary before we jump into the car insurance claim scenario.

The power Platform’s capabilities can be summed up in three key words: analyse, act, automate, known within Microsoft circles as the Triple A-Loop. The tools combine the capabilities of three key products, namely:

  • Microsoft Power BI: this analytical platform allows organisations to build and lead a data-driven culture. All users are given the power to turn data into insightful visualisations, driving quick and informed decision-making.
  • Microsoft PowerApps (including PowerApps Portals): these tools allow users to build custom apps same day instead of undertaking a month long development process, connecting to existing data and systems and solving specific process and business needs.
  • Microsoft Flow: is low-code / no code functionality that allows users to self-build automated workflows in minutes across hundreds of popular apps and services.

With Microsoft’s proprietary technology, users of all skill-levels, from pro-developers to authorised administrators can analyse, act upon, and automate data in ways that have never been possible before at business user level.

Automating car insurance claims processes using the Power Platform

Although fairly new to market, Redspire are deploying Power Platform capabilities to solve business pain for our Banking, FSI and Insurance clients and automating processes through all levels of their businesses.

In this scenario, we’ll showcase a user journey after automating car insurance claims processes using the Power Platform. The main functionality used here is PowerApps, supported by Office365, Flow and Power BI.

  1. A customer has an accident and needs to report the incident to start the claims process. Historically, policyholders would call the claims line to begin the claims process, however, digital natives are increasingly looking for mobile or desktop first reporting methods.
  2. Whether the policyholder has called the claims line and been signposted to the online functionality or logged into their account to begin their claim, a secure PowerApps Portal has been created to begin the claims process. The customer is asked to log in. Secure personal data will be pre-populated and the policyholder can submit the details of their incident within the requested fields, with the capability to upload images of the damage for assessment too.
  3. Using postcode data held against the policyholder, a Microsoft Flow has been created to pull through a choice of local car garages and automate the process of sending the claims data, photo of the vehicle damage and a request for quote (RFQ) to this selection of garages.
  4. Once received, the garages who received RFQ will be able to submit a quote for repair work via a bespoke Canvas PowerApp, supported by pre-determined Flow functionality.
  5. Once three quotes have been returned, Flow sends an automated Office 365 email to a claims processor, who can log in to a Model Driven PowerApp to review the quotes for repair work provided.
  6. Once reviewed and authorised for next stage by as assessor, these quotes for repair work are sent along the next stage of the automated process. Confirmation of the accepted quote is sent to the garage and the customer to arrange for completion of work.
  7. The selected garage completes the repair work and provides a completed status on the Canvas PowerApp once work is complete, notifying customer and insurer that the work is complete.
  8. Payment for repair work is automated via Flow and third part payment solutions.
  9. Flow sends out a Forms Pro survey to capture customer feedback on both the garage and claim experience, enriching customer service data and informing satisfaction scores.
  10. PowerBI can provide granular reports on customer satisfaction or wider data insight in the volume of claims, costs, types of damage, car models, garage satisfaction rating and so on.

Redspire and the Insurance sector.

This short scenario is barely scratching the surface of the capabilities of the Power Platform for the insurance sector. At Redspire, our delivery team can’t recommend the tools highly enough. We’re leading radical digital transformation in the insurance sector via these new and constantly emerging world-class Microsoft technologies. Together, we’re helping insurers understand and engage customer needs and deliver seamless, proactive and personalised experiences. We’re not just improving the claims process, we’re helping insurers digitise and automate all types of processes from underwriting to broker management.

If you’d like to find out more about how the Power Platform’s Triple-A-Loop can support your Insurance firms through its next phase of digital transformation, get in touch with our team of specialists today on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk. For an overview of how Dynamics 365 and the new and emerging tools from Microsoft are driving change in insurance, download our Digital Insurer white paper now, or sign up to receive our Power Platform e-book when it launches next week.

9 min read

Power Platform for Insurance: harnessing the power of Power BI, PowerApps and Flow

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There’s been a lot of noise coming from Camp Microsoft on the Triple threat (or Triple A-Loop) of Power BI, PowerApps and Flow in the last year and we’re seeing some excellent use cases of the tools in action within the Financial Services sphere

At Redspire, we can’t recommend the Power Platform for Insurance firms highly enough. Microsoft, as always, is leading the way in the evolution in the insurance sector, bringing over 400 enhancements to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in the most recent release. The tech giant’s investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and low-code, no-code technologies directly support insurance businesses through the on-going digital skills gap and enable business users of varying capabilities to build apps, visualisations and workflows and improve business performance via simple point-and-click technology.

At Redspire, we’re working closely with our insurance clients to maximise use of the latest releases. Our clients in the insurance sector have undergone rapid digital transformation with Microsoft Dynamics 365 business applications in recent years. Progress has been made to shatter barriers between departments and insurers no longer approach each policy, person or departments as standalone but part of a connected universe of data that provides valuable insights to business performance. The Power Platform – with it’s integrated AI-infused technologies and the recent announcement of Wave 2 enhancements – opens up unlimited opportunity to harness the power of that data-unification. With hundreds of data connectors and a toolkit built on a common data language, insurers can achieve peak productivity, maximise engagement and provide data-driven decision making to manage their brokers, customers, products, policies and claims.

Yet across Banking, FSI and Insurance, many of the new clients we meet are unsure about the Power Platform and how it can be deployed granularly within their organisations. And more importantly, just why they should invest.

So, what is the Power Platform?

Power platform can be summed up in three keywords: analyse, act, automate. Known within Microsoft circles as the Triple A-Loop.

The toolset allows users to automate processes across the Microsoft stack and beyond. It ensures that everyone with permissions within your insurance organisation has the ability to build rapid business solutions, and solve all types of daily or organisational business pain.

The Power Platform combines the capabilities of three key products – Power BI, PowerApps (including PowerApps Portals) and Flow. With Microsoft’s proprietary technology, users of all skill-levels, from pro-developers to authorised administrators can analyse, act-upon, and automate data in ways that have never been possible before.

The tools have been developed upon the Common Data Platform and are designed to work together for maximum business value. All users within the business with suitable permissions can quickly and easily build custom apps that solve immediate business pain, automate complex workflows to improve business productivity, and analyse data for insights – no matter their technical expertise or capabilities.

Act with PowerApps for Insurance

PowerApps allows everyone from developers to business users within your insurance business to create interactive apps that support with specific business scenarios from Claims processing and renewals to risk and compliance. Tying onto a specific  Dynamics 365 use case or standalone, your in-house teams will be able to react quickly to ever-changing customer, partner, product, claims and compliance needs, all without writing a single line of code. Or having to engage with a developer partner. Integrating neatly with Dynamics 365, the Common Data Service, other line of business systems and accessible by Power BI and Flow, users across the organisation can carry out tasks and complete processes quickly and efficiently on their device of choice, with the information flowing back into the CRM. Supported by hundreds of point and click Flow connectors, the data captured within the apps can be used to automate processes and drive insight like never before.

PowerApps puts the power to automate back in the hands of the insurance business and solve challenges in real time by creating focused journeys. To summarise the benefits of power Apps you can:

  • Easily build apps within a full feature low-code/no-code point-and-click platform
  • Connect to all of your valuable data with a suite of pre-built connectors or custom connectors
  • Put your data to work with the Common Data Service for Apps
  • Integrate neatly with Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, Power BI and Microsoft Flow
  • Make use of strong enterprise governance & security
  • Access Pro-develop extensibility

Sample use cases for PowerApps for Insurance include:

  • Improve and complete policyholder on-boarding in real time with bespoke PowerApps and PPowerApps portals, designed to capture the required data for each scenario. Create Flows to connect this data to the next step action in the process and automate risk and compliance controls too.
  • Automate task-led business process flows like renewal processes or escalations for medical underwriting.
  • Manage the claims process more efficiently. Provide loss adjusters or even customer access to a front-facing app where they can answer the required questions, capture and attach jpeg or png photo evidence or pdf and word supplier quotes for repairs. Feed their responses directly back in the CRM and automate to next stage with one of 250 out of the box Flow connectors.

Recent enhancements for PowerApps in Insurance

Recent announcements from Microsoft include the wide release of AI builder for Power Platform. One of our top picks from the functionality is object detection. This provides the capability for AI to read, understand and translate photographs of handwritten notes and convert into word documents, or analyse text from Excel or PDF and feed directly into the appropriate Dynamics 365 fields. The time-saving capabilities of these tools are immense.  Anywhere you can rekey data, you can feed to power app, AI will read, recognise the data and populate it. This will be extremely helpful for rebuilding and legacy platforms.

Analyse: Power BI for insurers  

Power BI is Microsoft’s market-leading intelligent business analytics solution. With familiar Excel-like controls, with Power BI, users can connect a multitude of data sources – legacy on-premise, in the cloud or elsewhere –  to gain valuable insights, analyse trends and make rapid, data-informed decisions. Data is visualised helping teams share insight, collaborate and report across the entire organisation, on any device. With in-built governance and security, sharing customised dashboards and interactive reports with the right teams at the right times becomes process-led, with the right risk controls in place to protect the sensitive information in your business.   

Some sample use cases of Power BI for insurers 

  • Power BI allows users to visualise real time insights and analysis of losses from insurance claims. This constant feed of data empowers business users to highlight trends across the business and leverage underwriting data to make prudent business decisions, minimising future losses.  
  • Create visual reports to analyse your brokers, agencies and intermediary performance levels. Understand which relationships are working well or which may need urgent attention. Visually view gross written premium per broker and understand the cost of each new policy or renewal.  
  • Closely analyse policy and product performance. If a product is performing particularly well within a certain demographic or geographical area, this may inform a reactive marketing campaign or a review of the policy price point.  

Recent enhancements for PowerApps in insurance  

Within the latest Power Platform release, Power BI improvements focus on four critical areas that drive a high performance data culture. Largely AI focused, these are: intuitive experiences, a unified BI platform, big data analytics, and pervasive artificial intelligence.  

Automate with Flow for Insurers  

Microsoft’s Flow – again, low code, no-code, point and click functionality –  puts power to create complex workflows within your organisation. It uses over 250 out of the box connectors to automate all types of processes and removes the risk for human error stalling a journey’s progress. Once the Power Platform has been implemented and adopted by your workforce, Flow removes the need for developer support to create workflows, heavily reducing costs and implementation time for new business critical or improvement processes.   

Like the rest of the Power Platform, Flow provides point and click functionality that connects legacy technology infrastructure. Out the box connectors integrate not only with Microsoft tools but less well known systems too. Secured within the Microsoft cloud, these workflows provide the functionality to move your insurance business forward.  

Some sample use cases of Power BI for insurers 

  • Flow can connect sales journeys, policyholder on-boarding and renewalsClients or intermediaries complete front-facing PowerApps Portals forms are then connected to the next stage of the process for action, review, risk, approval, decline. With data feeding directly into the CRM, a risk audit trail is created, productivity maximised and data accuracy maintained.  
  • When call centre activity spikes – for instance, regarding storms claims when the UK has been hit with bad weather – Flow can be connected to a quick deployed bot that can direct clients towards self-service options for lodging the claim or answering frequently asked questions 

Recent enhancements for Flow in insurance 

Microsoft Flow’s new functionality creates smarter, more meaningful experiences in three key areas. Users – again with varying levels of expertise – can leverage world-leading business process capabilities, work off-line and make use of rich administration tools that drive connectivity across the insurance business.  

Why invest in the Power Platform?  

A recent Economic Impact study of Dynamics and the Power Platform highlighted that the average cost of app development is reduced by 70% with PowerApps and Flow, with £2.9 million avoided in application development and management costs. These types of cost savings are indicative of the costs and productivity savings that can be made with each individual solution within the platform. Combined with no-code capabilities that drive high user adoption, it’s clear that return on initial investment is high. And with the tools included within the standard Dynamics 365 licensing, it’s easy to get started with Power Platform today.  

Redspire and the Insurance sector.  

At Redspire, we’re leading radical digital transformation in the insurance sector via world-class Microsoft technologies. Together, we’re helping insurers understand and engage customer needs and deliver seamless, proactive and personalised experiences. We’re improving underwriting processes, loss ratios and policy lapse rates whilst reducing customer churn. In the new, differentiated marketplace, everything is to play for.  

If you’d like to find out more about how the Power Platform’s Triple-A-Loop can support your Insurance firm through its next phase of digital transformation, read how the Power Platform can automate a claims scenario,get in touch with our team of specialists today on 0845 226 8170 or info@redspire.co.uk. For an overview of how Dynamics 365 and the new and emerging tools from Microsoft are driving change in insurance, download our Digital insurer white paper now.  

8 min read

Banking on AI with Microsoft Dynamics 365

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“Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace bankers. It’s going to optimize how banks work by helping them become more agile, make smarter decisions, and, ultimately, stay more competitive.” (Banking on AI, Microsoft, 2019)

With the October wave 2 release for Dynamics 365 featuring 400 new updates and capabilities across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform (more about that soon), as well as brand new AI-infused, industry-specific capabilities included in the release, our attention at Redspire is on how AI (Artificial Intelligence) is evolving banking and financial services . Should the c-suite be banking on AI to drive product and service innovation and steer customer excellence? The short answer: yes. It’s rapidly becoming clear that current and emerging artificial intelligence has the power to transform FSI, far more than any other technologies have done in recent years.

Microsoft investment in AI insights

Microsoft’s continued investment in AI is helping the banking sector turn valuable agent, customer, product, sales and competitor data into proactive ideas and action. Existing AI insights are already revolutionising product and service delivery for early adopters of the capabilities in banking. Yet as we hone and develop new and exciting use cases for our FSI clients with the features like AI builder, the opportunity to transform operations is immense. AI-driven agents, rapid implementation model and line of business apps and problem solving bots used alongside constant machine learning will boost team productivity, solve immediate business or operational pain and drive experiences with the sharpest of precision.

Out of the box Dynamics 365 AI tools for banking

The three main pre-packaged AI tools that are really allowing our banking clients to predict customer needs and provide services when the customer wants, just how the customer wants it are:

These insight apps, particularly when powered by Azure AI, enable bankers to apply artificial intelligence within line of business workflows that slicken operations and steer customers to the right channel for their needs. That could be a knowledge centre bot to answer a simple, frequently asked question or a rapidly deployed bot that’s been set up to respond to an emerging complaint theme. This sort of client self-service frees up Relationship Managers and gives them almost superpower like abilities to drive more personal and well-rounded customer experience. Teams can provide tailored, value-driven communications through a 360-degree view of their customer, across all business departments. Predictive intelligence analyses data touch-points like buying habits, financial aspirations and emphasis on income-proportionate savings, and can help banks better understand the customer sets that will respond better to specific and targeted offers, and create hyper-tuned cross-sell opportunities based on the information gathered and analysed by the AI systems.

But what does this look like in action?

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales Insights

If we had to pick a tool from the Dynamics suite that’s absolutely vital to the success of banking sales performance and levelling the playing field for incumbent banks and challengers, this is it. Steering opportunity propensity to close and measuring the sentiment of communications to serve you insight on how the relationship is going is only scratching the surface of the capabilities of the AI. For example, the sales insight tool listens to calls and can provide slick, in-depth feedback and a wealth of learning from the call, such as:

  • Conversation analysis: Did the sales agent provide enough information in line with the customer’s needs? Did they talk too much or too little? This can really hone individual sales capabilities and help create sales playbooks for future opportunities.
  • Sentiment analysis: Cognitive AI measures and reports back on customer mood within the conversation. Were they upset, excited? This can be used to turn the sales opportunity around by recommending next best action if the propensity to close has decreased and also be used by sales and relationship managers for future coaching.
  • Keyword and trends analysis: AI can measure and pick up on keywords and report on an individual level or a collective department or organizational level if there are any keywords that are trending up and down. For example, a banking competitor or new lending product is being mentioned more often than usual. This is reported to the sales manager who can then create sales battlecards to overcome the threat before the competitor has had a chance to steal market-share. Similarly, this tool can report back if there are recurring queries or objections that salespeople are having to overcome and create solutions, collateral or playbooks to support.

With AI for Sales Insight’s predictive lead and opportunity scoring, salespeople are provided with valuable AI insight to prioritise the right relationships, to help close faster and win more business. Sales Managers can analyse individual, team and third party performance and view rich sales activity reports and view pipelines at the touch of a button. This is just a few examples of the tool in action. Get in touch today if you want to chat Sales for AI with our consultants.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights  

Of course, it isn’t all just about selling. With customer experience a key differentiator in banking and competition levels fierce, delivering impeccable customer service is vital in both retail and commercial banking environments. What does AI infused customer service look like within a banking? Like Sales Insights, Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights can use predictive analytics to provide actionable insight into business critical performance metrics. AI analyses operational and customer contact data to group cases and provide trends in real time to highlight and create instant solutions – before issues get out of hand. In-house teams receive reports that action is required and they can then create an easily configurable bot to respond and answer basic questions, measure their sentiment and pass the complaint to a team member if they require higher touch interaction. Throughout the entire process the AI and bots are collecting constant feedback and feeding continual improvement Built-in reporting dashboards, interactive visual charts and reports provide views into support operations data across channels, highlighting improvement and best practice that will have the greatest impact. Customer service managers can quickly evaluate and act to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and maintain customer satisfaction levels.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights  

So you’ve got your sales and service performing with AI. What’s next? Understanding your own and your competitor brand position with AI for Market Insights. Interpret what your customers say, do and feel about your organisation online and measure their sentiment against your bank in comparison to key competitors. Are you delivering on brand promise and customer excellence? AI for market insights is also valuable to when managing third party relationships in the banking environment. Are your stakeholders getting what they expect from the relationship?

How safe and secure is AI for Banking?

Machine learning functionality provides a comprehensive analysis for deeper insight into risk and operational models, as well as real-time response to the intelligence gathered for an enhanced risk management procedure – specifically tailored to suit and meet any regulatory requirements like GDPR or advanced AML checks.

The data collected is safely and securely stored in Microsoft’s award-winning Azure cloud infrastructure, with multi-factor authentication, continuous monitoring, increased transparency and digital privacy protection to ensure all sensitive data adheres to any industry, domestic or global standards

The future of AI and overview of the new release AI tools

By 2021, Gartner estimates that AI augmentation will generate about $2.9 trillion in business value and recover about $6.2 billion in worker productivity

On top of the existing AI capabilities, the October 2019 release brings a whole host of AI-infused capabilities that will help the banking sector thrive. Dynamics 365 Product Insights connects product telemetry to Microsoft Business Applications, bringing valuable in-branch or ATM insights and give visibility into product and service performance and customer interactions.

Enhancements to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights extends the reach of the tool further from mainly B2C scenarios. Additional features allow banking organisations to generate powerful insights into complex B2B commercial banking journeys and understand and serve leads and accounts better.

We’re very excited about Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, which is currently still in preview. This is a vital tool for all banks and financial services firms, and is enhanced with new authoring capabilities. This allows users to test and deploy AI-powered chat bots with greater speed, freeing front line agents to focus on more complex issues, and providing deep insights into customer satisfaction and

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection provides a formidable fraud protection solution,  decreasing fraud costs and helping increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions.

Finally Microsoft have enhanced the Microsoft Banking Accelerator, released earlier this year, with use cases for retail banking and sample APIs for interoperability with the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BAIN). These enhancements enable banking and financial organizations to rapidly build intelligent, data-driven solutions across retail and commercial lines of business, accelerating time to value for a range of customer scenarios.

Banking on AI?

It’s an exciting time to be in banking! Implementing Artificial Intelligence has the power to transform the industry in ways we’ve never seen before. Cost saving, improving the speed and efficiency of decision-making, identifying and supporting new cross-selling opportunities for new and existing customers and most importantly, working towards the full and uninterrupted retention of all current business across the various departments and services. All whilst growing revenue and boosting the bottom line.

For more information on the Future of Banking download our Future of Banking white paper. To discuss what Microsoft and Artificial Intelligence can offer your business. get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us on info@redspire.co.uk.

6 min read

Digitising Data in Insurance

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In today’s digital-first world, our way of life is constantly evolving. How each of us is connected to each other, the companies we use, the goods and services we procure and how they’re delivered to us today looks very different to the digital landscape of just a year or two ago.

Despite a cautious approach in the early days of digital transformation, digitising data in insurance is well underway. As with the wider Financial Services sector, insurance is in a process of on-going, accelerated change, and it’s steering how the c-suite approach operations and policyholder service delivery. As insurance goes digital, competition for customer spend and attention is fierce, bringing opportunity to differentiate on brand proposition, service and experience. The onus isn’t just on attracting and retaining customers, it’s on ensuring a unified experiences across the entire portfolio.

Recent research by Microsoft has shows that 76 per cent of customers and prospects have researched your website or done a web search on their query, before they make contact with an insurer. Bruce McKee, financial services industry manager at Microsoft UK says: “By the time they’re on the phone, they already know a lot about the products they want so they’re likely to ask more difficult questions and expect increasing levels of expertise from staff.”

For your insurance business to not just survive but truly thrive, the c-suite are encouraged to focus energies and investment on building CRM driven service and operations. Create a digital-first culture, implement new technologies that drive meaningful interaction to truly transform the systems and processes that drive employee, intermediary and customer engagement. To find out more, read our Digital Insurer white paper today, watch our Digital Transformation in Insurance video series, or sign up for our Digitising Data in Insurance blog series, direct to your inbox.

  1. Deliver omni -channel user experiences via a customer centric CRM to gain competitive advantage and drive long-term customer and agent loyalty

When you place your insurance customers at the heart of an interactive business ecosystem, where they can contact you on their channel of choice, as and when they choose, with a unified cross-channel response and real time knowledge and understanding of their needs and issues; you create an immersive sales and service environment that engages. Customer experiences that can’t fail to stick.

Microsoft’s suite of business application tools are delivering these experiences in the insurance sector. Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies insurance customer data in real time and integrates with tools like Unified Service Desk, Power BI and PowerApps to help build communication networks that drive sales, inspire loyalty, encourage satisfaction and increase customer lifetime value. Digital self-service via low and no code apps, developed rapidly in-house increases team productivity whilst empowering the customer to transact on their own terms, often without ever needing to engage with an agent.

Additionally, the data insights leveraged across these communication tools, from agent channels and customer portals, to mobile, social and web interactions build an invaluable 360-degree view of your customer and their needs. Predicative AI and relationship insights tools support by taking the guesswork out what of your customer needs and next step actions are. When those insights are available to your people, customers are provided with pro-active consultative support and sales conversations land with razor sharp precision.

Looking at the claims process, that single version of the truth and the productivity tools of Dynamics 365, Unified Service Desk and O365 can speed up the claims process, allowing remote assessment, works management and completion, often without the need for loss adjuster visits.

  1. Creating digital workplaces that empower relationships and service excellence

End user customers aren’t the only winners of a unified data system. Unlike other financial networks, in insurance the eco-system contains third party agents and intermediaries that often aren’t directly employed by the firm. Building loyalty and delivering smooth operations to these stakeholders and third parties is imperative to the bottom line.

That interconnectivity of the business, agents and policyholders can be achieved with bespoke portals that feed in directly to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, connecting household data and documents with the correct product and service at the right price point.

It goes without saying that ease of service is under serious scrutiny at this point in the sale. With customers often talking to a number of insurers, both price and experience are key differentiators. Additionally, intermediaries will naturally steer towards the platforms that provide them with great accessibility and experience and the ability to sell, connect and close quicker.

Unified communication via handheld devices, easy access to product and service information, forms and eSign capabilities that connect product, agent, system and customer can replace a laptop or desktop without compromising on service levels. On an access as required status that secures sensitive customer data.

  1. Providing accurate real-time insights

Real time insights provided by Dynamics 365 allows you to unify all of your customer data, applications, claims and complaints into one easily accessible system. With Dynamics data insights you can better understand customers, accelerate applications and decisions; create personalised insurance offers; gain a 360-degree view of internal and external data, predict customer needs and provide custom solutions.

With constant advances in the tech and new bi-annual releases, teams can progress action and help when there is trouble, automate processes and augment human ingenuity with AI and cognitive capabilities to meet customers where they are.

For call centre staff, access to these insights and unified service data help provide a pro-active service to consumers who are informed and often quite far down a sales pipeline via their own personal research. Microsoft Unified Service Desk collates data from the legacy sources and knowledge materials that help agents answer tricky questions and fulfil customer needs. Data insights impact all areas of customer delivery and improve profitability. Eradicating ageing systems and disparate silos also helps reduce over and under pricing and monitor fraud, depreciating trends and unnecessary claims payouts that are impacting your bottom line.

Digital disruption and transformation is in motion from the top down, and across the financial services and insurance sector, everything is to play for. From new market entrants to established High Street names, insurance firms globally are rapidly accelerating and shape shifting into highly focused, strategically planned, modern and agile institutions.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the wider Microsoft ecosystem is steering differentiated customer journeys and operational success. In a rapidly evolving business environment where the strongest and most innovation hungry institutions will thrive and survive, the question is: ‘How does your organisation’s digital strategy stack up?’

At Redspire, when we partner with you, we become your dedicated Dynamics partner throughout your whole improvement journey. We have particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, FMCG, Government, and Third Sector and we have worked on the biggest operational challenges facing these industries today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service and our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the wider Microsoft ecosystem within insurance firms like Ellipse, Saffron and The Judge, we help our clients achieve operational excellence and project delivery that promises return on investment.

Want to find out more? Download The Digital Insurer white paper today. If you’re ready to chat, contact us on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk. We’ll get back to you right away.

5 min read

Heal your business pain with Dynamics QuickStart CRM

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When it comes to business pain, at Redspire we’ve seen it all. And help our clients UK-wide solve theirs, via our Dynamics QuickStart CRM package or phased CRM implementation.

As one of the UK’s leading CRM consultancies, we are experts in resolving the digital and data pain points that all businesses face.

Our client base share similar internal challenges, but we understand that the internal approach to resolving them may vary from business to business. Time constraints, changeable budgets and operational capacity all impact the ability to undertake a CRM implementation project, even when it’s badly needed.

That doesn’t change the fact that we are living through the 4th Industrial Revolution. Consumer expectations are at their highest, radically transforming the way businesses interact when they sell, promote and provide service. In this digital age, personalisation and customer connectivity are a fundamental business priority. And the only way to achieve them is with a fit for purpose CRM system that will unify data, streamline processes and improve productivity.

Introducing Dynamics QuickStart CRM…

Dynamics QuickStart CRM is a fixed scope, fast implementation of Microsoft Dynamics 365, built to fit your business need, type and budget. Implement a new CRM, upgrade a current CRM or entirely replace your existing system fast, for maximum impact and little business disruption.

Perfect for busy businesses who want quick improvements and results, and suitable for all organisations of all shapes and sizes – from Banking and Financial Services to Manufacturing, Government and the Public Sector – QuickStart CRM from Redspire is a quick and simple CRM solution that delivers immediate results.

If you’ve heard your c-suite leaders and department heads make any of the following statements, your business will benefit from Dynamics QuickStart CRM…

PAIN POINT 1: “There’s no single version of the truth!”

Also known as the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

It’s surprising just how many large multi-national businesses are operating with outdated data silos and no single view of their customer across various departments. Which begs the question, how can you understand your customer, predict sales propensity and provide great service, if you can’t view their interactions with your business holistically?

If your customer, sales and service data sit on multiple databases and spreadsheets, you’re undoubtedly only skimming the surface of your sales capabilities. Whilst delivering poor service to your client base. Yet you can optimise operations fast with Dynamics QuickStart CRM. Your teams and your bottom line will benefit from a single customer view that accelerates sales, personalises service and increases customer engagement.

PAIN POINT 2: “What are the salespeople doing?!”

Also known as the boss is getting twitchy because there’s no visibility of what the moneymakers are up to.

Digitally optimised workplaces and effective data and pipeline management have been proven to make teams much more productive. Yet workforces often resist the serious benefits of a transparent CRM system for fear of big brother watching, measuring their performance and finding it lacking.

With a collaborative, visible pipeline, the improvements to the workforce, customer and management are immeasurable. Put your hands on real time reports with ease, review an up-to-the-minute pipeline status and automate business reports at the click of a button with Dynamics QuickStart CRM

PAIN POINT 3 : “Excellent – sales are up…but where are they coming from?”

Also know as winging the sales process rather than using an evidence-based approach

If you aren’t tracking customer buying patterns, sourcing lead traffic and attributing your sales to marketing touchpoints, how can you understand your sweet spot? If you don’t track the customer journey and how you win or lose, you’re undoubtedly leaving money on the table. Which makes your salespeople’s lives harder and returns poor ROI from your marketing spend. Integrate Dynamics QuickStart CRM with your existing systems to see the bigger picture and find your strengths and weaknesses. And then watch your sales grow.

PAIN POINT 4: “I’m sick of the ‘them and us’ – they’re supposed to be part of the same team!”

Also known as sales and marketing blaming each instead of working towards shared goals

Despite being part of the same organisational family, with shared business goals, Sales and Marketing teams are notorious for being the warring siblings of the business world. How often are you hearing ‘what are marketing doing, there’s no leads coming through, and when they are, they’re awful!’ Or marketing complaining about lack of sourcing and poor conversions from the sales teams?

The issue is typically lack of visibility, reporting and communication. A CRM that works for all departments, tracking campaigns, leads and opportunities will encourage a positive workforce, working together with shared vision, and MI that fosters a collaborative, data-driven approach

PAIN POINT 5: “Where’s the paper trail for this complaint?!”

Also known as lack of customer information management

We’ve all endured the customer frustration of a poorly handled complaint. It’s often just as challenging for agents trying to manage customer services issues if their organisation isn’t managing data properly. Customers need to repeat themselves each time they call or email, and your employee is on the back foot from the outset, not knowing what decisions have been made previously. With QuickStart you can automate and aggregate customer service information, so that your people always have what they need to hand, when they need it.

PAIN POINT 6: “Reporting shouldn’t be this hard. Can’t we automate it?”

The simple answer is yes. And you should be! Free up your key people’s time from hand preparing reports and get them back to their day job. With QuickStart, you’ll access management information, sales, marketing and customer satisfaction reports as and when you need them, even when you’re on the go.

Ready to find out more about QuickStart CRM?

At Redspire, we specialise exclusively in Dynamics 365, helping clients across different industries – from Government to Financial Services – transform digitally. Working with world-class tools from the Microsoft universe, Dynamics integrates seamlessly with existing operations to unify whole businesses into a single, intelligent system. Get quick installation, rapid delivery and faster return on investment with Microsoft Dynamics QuickStart CRM. Read more today or get in touch for a no-obligation chat with our consultants now.

3 min read

The Big Data Challenge for Marketers

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When we meet our clients for the first time, there are usually five immediate discussions.

The first is about how Dynamics365 will make processes and people more effective. That’s an easy one. The next four questions revolve around data – big data (size isn’t everything), data management (management is not the same as insight), storing it (cloud, cloud, cloud) and understanding it (not the what, the how).

If you are creating marketing campaigns for a product or service with a relatively short customer lead time, the chances are you are selling lots of that product or service and accumulating vast amounts of data. Data counts mean nothing if you don’t understand them.  Some (from the old world of marketing) would describe it as transactional but as we all know, a transaction is informed by context and, regardless of lead-in time, every customer is a potential relationship or referral.

How do you make that transaction mean more?  It’s not enough to manage the data better. It’s true that data is only as valuable to your business as what you do with it. If it doesn’t ultimately help you make more confident, productive decisions, spot lucrative opportunities and halt underperforming activities, it’s holding you back.

It’s 2017 though. This is not fresh news.  So what gives?

Thanks to digital technology and the realisation of customer experience, marketing plays a huge role in the entire customer lifecycle. To be effective, marketers need access to a myriad of different data sources to connect to get the 360 view of the customer. The cross-business collaboration needed can be a struggle.

There are three key differences between the marketing departments of leading businesses and those that lag behind.

 

  1. The right data

According to Openrise, 54% of marketers would cite poor data accessibility as a key barrier to data management success. 44% cited poor data quality and as a sign of the times, 37% cited poor database integration. We’d argue that the accessibility and integration points are one in the same and can be remedied with the right platform and that in time, data quality could also be addressed.

 

  1. Knowledge and Skills

There’s no point having the right data in the right place without the right people to analyse it properly. It’s a difficult one as it’s only been the last few years that marketers have needed this data focus. A cross-discipline approach across the business makes sense with Business Analysts and IT contributing. That lets marketers focus on their main skill set instead of spreading their efforts too wide whilst we wait for the next generation of marketers to join the ranks.

 

  1. Creativity

Marketing is a creative process. Content is still king so the challenge is integrating the work being done to make marketing more data driven, with the work being done to engage customers with better experiences.

Introducing Dynamics 365 has taken our conversations up a gear. Even businesses with a huge amount of data lack information that ultimately delivers decision-making confidence. Eyes light up when the penny drops that the common data model means no more silos. Information to pinpoint future opportunities is more accessible; whether it’s marketing effort, sales pipeline issues, budget reallocation, product development or expansion into new markets.

Find out more information by watching our High Volume Marketing webinar.

4 min read

Manufacturing 2020 Roundtable: The Topics

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Always ones to practice what we preach, we immerse ourselves in our customers’ sectors to inform the scoping stage and make our client meetings informed and productive.

Our recent digital transformation webinar resulted in quite a few opportunities from manufacturers keen to get more information about the next wave of change so it’s just as well we were already well into The UK Manufacturing Review 16/17.

Within the review, The Manufacturing 2020 Roundtable reveals what some of the manufacturing industry’s leaders had to say about what comes next for them. It led to interesting discussions internally so we want to share some of the thoughts we took on board with you.

The discussion is pinned around one key question: are manufacturing businesses taking full advantage of available technologies to tackle the productivity gap?

 

Automation

More is possible with automation. From lights-out running to identifying and scheduling maintenance, businesses need to be looking at where there current processes are stuck in the dark ages.

 

Robotics

The progress in robotics is noted. Modern robots have put safety fears to bed and can work side by side with employees. Programmability can put them in charge of the more dangerous parts that you might not want an employee dealing with and they are becoming more accessible to manufacturing businesses of all sizes.

 

3D Printing

Leaders are agreed on its usefulness with one business using it more and more for replacement parts to keep machines going. However, queries remain over accessibility for larger products as well as price.

 

Big Data

If you read our blogs regularly, you’ll know that data equals insights. You’ll also know that Dynamics365 is geared up to produce more of them (hence the game changer description). For manufacturers, it means pulling in data from across the supply chain and identifying issues, improving quality, adding customer service advantage and reducing waste.

 

Internet of Things (IoT)

Tied in with Big Data, the IoT is expected to result in 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The opportunities are huge for operational efficiency, predictive maintenance, automated scheduling, optimized servicing, increasing uptime and usage insights for future innovation.

 

Mass Customisation

With all of these advances, mass customization becomes increasingly possible with modular manufacturing and more flexibility. Customers get what they want, when they want it and at a price they’re happy to pay.

 

Digital Business

A lot of the talk here is around funding but also perception. Synonymous with customer experience, how are you using digital capabilities to meet your customers’ expectations? One comment was made that SME businesses in particular need to remember that digital is a journey and firms are at different stages. For some, it’s about doing more with your website. For others, it’s about the machines talking to each other and automation. What they all have in common though, is the importance of data that you just couldn’t gather any other way than usage.

 

Skills Gap

Manufacturing is still struggling to appeal to a younger generation who view it as old fashioned. Apprenticeships are a good route in but the colleges need to keep up with the equipment they are training people on and the forthcoming Levy will impact on the cost too. One of the business risks highlighted is that whilst degree qualified design engineers are easy to find, manufacturing engineers are few and far between leaving businesses exposed as their current engineers get older and look to retirement. In the same vein, middle management is also suffering from a skills gap where you have excellent technical candidates but with no management experience. The sector needs to attract a broader range of experience and skills.

For years, businesses in every sector have spoken of innovation with varying degrees of enthusiasm. It’s not going away. It’s gathering momentum and businesses really need to take stock of where they are on the journey right now, and what the next natural development for survival and growth should be.

We recently ran a Digital Transformation webinar which you might find helpful or if reading is more your thing, you can download this Digital Transformation for Manufacturers white paper.

As always, we’re here to help so do let us know if you have any specific information requests or things you’d like to see us talk about.

6 min read

What Does Digital Transformation Mean Now Anyway?

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Digital transformation.  It’s a catch all term for how digital technologies are changing the lives we lead, and the businesses we operate today.  To be honest, it’s overused. You’ll see it in nearly every article you now read. What’s the problem with that? As a term becomes more and more used, it fails to stop people in their tracks. It fails to engage in meaningful thought. And when the term digital transformation becomes like wallpaper, it does the technologies it seeks to promote a disservice.

So, let’s just stop a minute. Let’s unpack the term digital transformation and let’s find meaning in it again so that you can understand where it will truly help your business to progress.

Most businesses understand the term digital now. Even Cloud is a widely understood term and organisations are embracing the systems and processes that sit on them to facilitate productivity, efficiency, collaboration and relationship building.  For most organisations, it’s an acceptance that their customers also expect digital progression and the improved service levels that come with them. So for most, it’s about starting there. Then there’s the visionary stuff that is fast becoming the mainstream.

 

The Internet of Things (aka IoT) is about Cloud-based machine-to-machine communication made possible by networks of data gathering sensors. It generates data that instigates an action designed to improve efficiency. It works best when there is infrastructure in place to analyse it all.  It’s pretty limitless and is growing into new areas every day. At a domestic and immediately understood level, it could be your smart energy meter that allows you to control your energy use remotely or an alarm clock that tells your coffee machine to get going with that first cup of the day. At a city level, it could be smart roads and amenities. At a business level, it’s about the same drive for efficiency, productivity and turnover.

 

In manufacturing, new equipment tends to come with IoT sensors pre installed but the industry is also adept at retro fitting to existing equipment. BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, expects the installed base of manufacturing IoT devices to grow from 237 million in 2015 to 923 million in 2020. By then, manufacturers will spend approximately $267 billion on the IoT. Manufacturers are currently using IoT solutions to track assets in their factories, consolidate their control rooms, and increase their analytics functionality through predictive maintenance. Many IoT solutions are still basic, but we expect manufacturers to eventually implement more complex technologies, such as autonomous robots and augmented reality (AR) tools. Indeed, it’s innovations like this that usual cause growth for a country’s economy as it takes us into a new industrial age.

Insurers using IoT technologies will be able to cut costs, improve business practices and better assess clients’ risk levels. Usage based insurance (UBI) is already in play with IoT devices that track customer activity and offer discounts or rewards for desired behavior.

 

Artificial intelligence has just enjoyed its 60th birthday and it shows no signs of letting up. Digital Visionary, Kevin Kelly (you can find him on TED Talks) puts it like this. We already have AI. It’s everywhere. It’s used to fly planes, to make recommendations on Netflix or Amazon, to diagnose x rays, to go through legal evidence and even to serve you search results.  With the Industrial Revolution, we got artificial power. With AI, we are plugging in smartness and giving that power cognition. As humans, our intelligence is too dynamic. We have a symphony of over 100 different types of intelligence in our brain that forms different orchestras on a minute-by-minute basis. Sometimes, one player in that orchestra gets too noisy for the situation. With AI, you can have just the intelligence you need. So, your machinery, your programmes, your smart car can get on with the job without any distraction.  Here’s an interesting though of his. It’s not about the AI taking over. AI and human intelligence have to work together. It’s not about AI taking over. It can’t. Its profundity is found in its single mindedness. We need to continue to deliver the lateral thinking.  So, yes manufacturing may be reticent to let AI in, but the manufacturers that will excel are those that make it work FOR them, not instead of them.

 

Businesses are generating a huge amount of Big Data on a day-to-day basis. Big data is when you have enough of it that you can analyse it for insights leading to better decision-making and strategic changes. Most businesses have the data yet many don’t have the means to analyse it. Retailers who are confidently using CRM to generate vouchers and communication based on a customer’s buying habits are ahead of the game. The insurance sector is catching up fast with the ability to recalculate entire risk portfolios in minutes and detecting fraudulent behavior before it hits.  Manufacturing can identify root causes of issues and defects in near real time limiting damage.

 

Imagine a business call where you can call up remote members of the team or your clients, and engage with them in augmented reality. Unbelievably more natural, definitely more collaborative and surely something we will all want to be doing in the future. The same 3d experience that brings proper collaboration to businesses raises the game for training, for repair instructions, for showcasing products, for tourism, for interior design, for office environments. It really is limitless and whilst the glasses are currently clumpy and conspicuous, just give it time. The dominant form of this hasn’t emerged yet and whilst I find it very exciting, I suspect the mainstream won’t be ready for this for quite some time.

 

Drones remain a thing and you’ll probably have seen Amazon’s efforts to implement them.  I suspect the US will lead the way given the passing of FAA rules that make it easier for commercial interests to take to the skies.  I think there’s huge potential for manufacturing firms and the insurance sector to use drones although in completely different ways. Watch this space!

 

What will your business’ digital transformation look like in 2017?

Here’s what I suggest.

  1. Start with your strategy. Always. Never jump to technology because it excites you. Know that it meets a corporate objective first.
  2. Get an outside view of your systems, processes and corporate objectives. Chances are that you will be starting with the basics by making sure your CRM is doing what it needs to do, that your processes are intelligent and that your data is being put to good use.
  3. If you are looking at new systems, look at the bigger picture of integration of where you are now and where you plan to go. Scalability is crucial.
3 min read

4 Productivity Resolutions for Business Leaders

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There’s something different about the time between Christmas and the return to work in early January.

The office environment is a little quieter, the pace is slower and people are more communicative. Inboxes are dealt with, junk mail deleted, desks tidied, to-do lists revised, outstanding tasks achieved.

Organisation brings calm. Calm brings clarity. Clarity brings vision. Visions are for sharing. That sharing brings collaboration. Collaboration brings effectiveness. Effectiveness brings productivity. It’s a virtuous wheel that often gets punctured because we are being busy fools, working at a frenetic pace to just get things done as quickly as possible. We miss opportunities for smarter thinking.

In a bid to keep the spirit of ‘tween days, you need to address the basics.

Here are our simple, often forgotten, business leader productivity tips that will bring calm and effectiveness into your day and organisation.

 

  1. Control Your Email

Do you control your email or does it control you? Here’s something worth thinking about. Email represents us. People do judge us based on our email habits. You need to be organised and responsive.  However, the trick is doing that without letting it disrupt your day.

  • Decide when to tackle your emails – twice to three times a day should do it. Once a week, try to clear your inbox, filing what’s important, deleting what is not. It’ll stop the email becoming white noise.
  • Be succinct in your emails, keep to one main point and you’ll get a quicker answer.
  • Confirmation or conversation? If your email will most likely result in a ping pong of emails or if you don’t want something in writing, use the phone instead.
  • Remember that emails are easily misconstrued. Avoid group emails unless it’s simply to distribute information. A group of people will always have differing interpretations and you can quickly lose the point.

 

  1. Control Your Diary

If you’re anything like our MD, Billy Lyle, you’ll be in demand. Everyone wants a slice of your time but you still have your own tasks to complete and clients to look after.  There are so many tools and apps to help you manage your diary better but ultimately, it comes down to this:

  • You only need one calendar.
  • Use one digital task manager and get rid of all the post-its.
  • Theme your week if you can – client meetings, research, prep, people.

 

  1. Control Your Knowledge

What information do you need each week to manage the business? When was the last time you felt able to study your area? Just for fifteen minutes? How much time do you spend finding out answers when they’re suddenly urgent? How many times have you felt poorly informed in a client situation? By being on top of your knowledge sources, you’ll identify the ones worth having and the ones to lose.

  • Set proper time aside for your management reports.
  • Build a reading list and habit, whether it’s daily, weekly or fortnightly where you commit time to get on top.
  • Schedule thinking time and objectivity will become a habit making for better decision-making and productivity.

 

  1. Control Your Meetings

Meetings need to happen; information, status, brainstorm, one-to-one, strategy, board, committee. It’s the most productive way to discuss and collaborate, to make things happen but employees dread time away from their desks.  They often come to the meeting distracted and poorly prepared.  Here’s how to make it more productive for everyone:

  • Have a clear purpose
  • Have an agenda (circulate it in advance!)
  • Have an agreed end time
  • Have a good moderator
  • Have agreed actions

It’s remiss of us not to point out the huge benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 in addressing so many of these points (and hundreds more) to improve productivity and profit throughout all sizes of business. But we’ll get back onto that in January!

For now, the team here at Redspire would like to wish you all a productive and prosperous 2017.