Clearer skies on the horizon – A guest blog by Esker
As signs of an economic recovery emerge, how can companies now prepare to respond to changes?
The turbulent last year and constant negative news cycles have reminded me of the old joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The pessimist says ‘surely it can’t get any worse than this’ and the optimist replies ‘oh yes it can’!
It seems recently that every little bit of optimism has been quickly followed by a setback. However, even the gloomiest of doom-mongers can’t help but notice a building wave of optimism around the future of the UK economy.
- 770,000 new businesses were created in 2020 according to small business UK. Up 30% from 2019.
- The Purchasing Managers Index from IHS/CIPS showed an increase to 61 – its highest since 2013.
- UK construction growth is the highest for over 5 years as demand sees an increase in raw material cost.
- The UK is set for its strongest growth since WWII with GDP expected to grow to 7.25% in 2021 according to the Bank of England.
Too good to be true? Of course, there are concerns and risks such as:
- A fifth of small to medium-sized businesses (800,000) may close once financial support or access to financial support is taken away.
- Strong growth can lead to high inflation as costs rise due to supply not meeting the demand.
For Finance and Credit professionals, never has it been a more important time to demonstrate the well-crafted skills and intuition developed to cope with the rapid changes predicted in the economy.
We’ve all heard about ‘know your customer’ initiatives and there has been some great work done in the last year to help and support customers through a turbulent year.
It’s vital when the country and economy fully opens to not let this good work go to waste.
At Esker we are seeing our customers focus on some key areas in the year ahead.
- Remove obstacles to growth
- Are customer orders being processed timely and efficiently?
- Are deductions and claims draining time and effort to resolve?
- Spot areas where manual effort is high, but the outcome value is low
- Allow customers to self-serve
- Allow access to vital information provided through portals and customer communications.
- Automate communications and supporting documentation to reduce inbound activity on the team when order and sales increase.
- Don’t take your eye off ageing
- Not that anyone would. But when cash collection targets are being met with the increased cash in the economy, older invoices will remain vulnerable.
- Focus risk activity on customer groups susceptible to suspension of any government financial support
- Don’t just know your customer – predict your customer
- Like us, customers are creatures of habit
- Technology can learn, predict their behaviour and if embraced, will free up valuable time for more value-added tasks
Advances in technology and automation are fast-paced and have accelerated in the last year. However, it’s not always the silver bullet people expect or were promised. There’s a difference between buying and embracing technology.
Those who embrace it will find they’re able to execute their skills and do more with less. Those who just buy it may need to search a bit longer for those clearer skies!