Automate High Growth…But Wisely

Ask any executive at a rising company (or teenager in the middle of a growing spurt) and they’ll tell you the same thing—growth hurts. It’s positive overall, but it hurts.

Automation can help, obviously. With the right technologies, companies can boost and maintain brand value by automating redundant processes, getting better economies of scale and tightening up customer service, et cetera.

But it has to be done right.

Growing Pains

Growth inevitably stresses people, processes and controls. Without appropriate preparations, growth can outstrip management capabilities, financial controls and quality controls. Rapid growth also can dilute culture, brand and customer value propositions.

—European Financial Review

Toyota’s strength was always quality. But in a rush to sell more cars than anyone else in the last couple years, the company has significantly damaged its reputation for quality with a series of recalls.

Starbucks had a good thing going years ago but overextended by putting shops anywhere and everywhere, including in sub-prime locations and too close to other Starbucks. (In D.C., there are two Starbucks literally right across Wisconsin Avenue from each other.)

Starbucks admitted its wounds were self-inflicted and led to the commoditization of its strategic differentiators.

—European Financial Review

Automate Thoughtfully

The prepaid card industry spends a ton of money on customer service. Most companies are using IVR systems to automate customer-service inquiries, saving themselves money.

But do those systems accommodate growth? Do they help customer service? Do they hurt customer service? Are they even implemented and used correctly? Companies—particularly high-growth companies—need to ask themselves these types of questions when automating.

Fact is, a system that can’t scale with growth isn’t going to work. High-growth companies should (rightfully) choose an IVR system offered in a hosted option (software as a service), which can scale no matter how fast they grow.

Also, companies need to use their systems correctly. The corporate growth consultants at Catlin and Cookman Group believe not listening and not communicating enough are two crucial mistakes companies make during high growth. Essentially, company leaders need to listen to their customers…and to their staff.

To ensure customer service doesn’t slip and to protect the company brand (think about Toyota’s recalls), companies need real-time feedback from customers and staff, which they can get through their IVR.

But are they using it for that? Are they talking to their customers and staff?

Growing spurts are tough (I remember mine). Automation can help. But it needs to be done wisely.

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