What effect are currency fluctuations having on your company profits, and what are you doing to protect yourself?

Most investors will be familiar with the concept of currency exposure, with constantly changing exchange rates affecting the cost of investing in international stocks. These same issues also affect companies that operate, import and export internationally.

If you have a business which prides itself on sourcing local products, foreign exchange is unlikely to have much of an impact on your profit margins. But if your business sources goods and services from overseas or exports products, fluctuations in the currency market can make a notable difference to your profitability. 

A double-edged sword, the foreign currency market is one of the most volatile trading platforms in the world. Exchange rates can move by as much as 10% in a matter of days; on the day the EU Referendum result was announced, the Pound dropped 12% against the US Dollar.

When even small fluctuations in an exchange rate can mean you get less of a return on your finished products, businesses with regular international money transfers to manage could find themselves seriously out of pocket if they fail to capitalise on positive foreign exchange rate fluctuations, or leave themselves exposed to negative ones.

If your business sends or receives international payments, currency moves can potentially have a serious impact on your bottom line. But there are ways you can look to protect your business from adverse moves…

The first step is to understand your exposure and the potential risks to your business.

Next time the exchange rate swings by 10%, you want to be able to quickly and easily quantify its impact on your bottom line. The best way for importers and exporters to compete is often through being competitive on price, but when things outside your control significantly undercut your margins, you need to be able to quickly establish by how much and where.

It's essential that you can easily drill down into what products, orders and/or contracts are

affected across your business so you can start making the necessary price changes. You need to know if there are items in transit that are affected that you need to address straight away or are you looking at only new orders?

With a single integrated system like Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can analyse the impact of these tricky external factors on your business – on margins, cash flow or productivity – and make the right, corrective decisions based on reliable information.

With Dynamics NAV you can easily change your currency rates as they change, keep track of your potential exposure to currency fluctuations and also accurately record realised gains and losses.

You can register exchange rates for each foreign currency and specify from which dates the exchange rates are valid. For example, you can enter daily exchange rates, monthly exchange rates, or quarterly exchange rates for each foreign currency. You can even retain historical exchange rates for reference purposes.

Isolate, evaluate, and eliminate the impact of currency fluctuations on your business operations – and keep your margins stable with Dynamics NAV.

Late payments are costing SME’s in the UK more than £2bn a year

Smaller businesses in the UK are facing a total bill of £2.16 billion to chase overdue payments, according to Bacs Payment Schemes Limited.

In spite of a dramatic drop in the overall late payment debt, with new figures showing that UK small to medium size enterprises are owed £14.2 billion in contrast with five years ago when the total was double that, at £30.2 billion, late payments are still costing SME’s a lot more than they should.

Out of the 1.7 million SMEs in the UK, almost 640,000 say they have to wait beyond agreed terms for payments. 39% of companies are spending up to four hours a week chasing late payers, while 12 per cent of SMEs employ someone specifically to pursue outstanding invoices.

Almost one in five SMEs affected by overdue settlement admit that being owed between £20,000 and £50,000 would be enough to drive them into bankruptcy, with seven per cent of businesses saying they are already in that danger zone.

Of those facing late payments, some 16 per cent struggle to pay their staff on time, while 28 per cent of company directors reduce their own salaries in order to keep essential working capital inside their businesses. And nearly a third say that overdue invoice settlement forces them to pay their own suppliers late. A quarter rely on bank overdrafts to make essential payments, and 15 per cent find it difficult to pay business bills like energy, rates, and rent when they’re due.

A significant issue for SMEs is the amount of time they are being kept waiting beyond their previously agreed payment terms. Almost a third of companies face delays of at least a month beyond their terms and nearly 20 per cent are having to wait more than 60 days before being paid.

This is why keeping a tight grip on your credit control is vital.

To thrive, your organisation needs better control of overdue balances and approaching credit limits. So it’s essential to arm your business with the necessary tools to effectively and efficiently perform credit management and avoid receiving late payments.

Our Credit Management Addition for Dynamics NAV helps to remove some of the manual tasks from your Credit Control team, by automatically putting sales orders on hold if a customer has overdue balances or a particular sales order would put them over their agreed credit limit.

Get great visibility of outstanding balances by account. Assign your customers to specific individuals in your team to measure and track the performance of these accounts. Individual dashboard help your credit controllers to keep on top of outstanding balances and daily tasks. Visibility by account means you can easily identify the biggest outstanding balances and also ensure you don’t miss the smallest balances either and Views of what’s due for payment in the next x days, means a proactive approach to credit and prevents customers regularly exceeding their payment terms.

We know ourselves that ensuring you get paid on time is getting harder, so our Dynamics Addition also helps your team keep on top of chasing debt. Follow up calls/to-do’s can be automatically diarised to remind your users when to chase payments that haven’t been paid when promised, aiding your busy team with better time management and more efficient processes.

Make life simpler with Credit Management and don’t let poor cash flow kill your business.

The Power of JET – Fast, Flexible, Custom Reporting Inside Excel

Our Dynamics Learning course – Using Jet Professional - is a one day, hands-on course that will equip you to create your own tailored reports.

It’s a chance to explore all the options this great reporting tool has, from the four basic functions, NL, NF, NP and GL, through to all the visual tools that are available to speed things up, all mixed in with plenty of tips and tricks for the software. We will guide you from starting up the software right the way through to the final stage of scheduling your reports for distribution via email, so you can ensure you get the most out of the data in your ERP system. 

Our course is the full package. A full days learning supported by a 100-page training manual, (so you don’t need to worry about making notes on the day), a video playlist to watch back and over 50 example reports to take away. You will be fully equipped to put things into practice as soon as you get back to your desk!  

All delivered in our dedicated training facility, in our demonstration environment, working with the latest versions of both Jet and Microsoft Dynamics NAV – with the support of our in-house professional trainer.

Find out if our course is for you at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoS7gV-LINmmYy8x_Ju00EiHlTjLD6T7p

Business intelligence – more than just financial reporting

Give everyone, not just those in your Finance team, a powerful new way to work with data.

User expectations are changing, and we know that most job roles now need self-service access to more types of data than ever before – to measure the success of every department.

To fully benefit from the power of data, organisations need to make it easy for all users to get access to the right data, at the right time, so they can make more informed decisions; whilst also giving IT the tools to manage data access, quality and compliance.

Whether you are on the go or in the office, you need to create rich, interactive reports and Microsoft Power BI offers you the tools you need. Stay connected to your data from anywhere, anytime. Watch our video for a quick run through.

Power BI gives a 360° view of your business data on the go – at the touch of your fingers and quickly connect, shape, visualise, and share data insights.

With Power BI, your dashboards help you keep a finger on the pulse of your business.  Your dashboards display tiles that you can click to explore further with reports. Connect to multiple datasets to bring all of the relevant data together in one place.

For a quick exploration of your data, you can even try asking a question in the Q&A box.  For example, try typing "what segment had the most revenue".

Power BI

If you have important data in an Excel spreadsheet on your computer, you can create a Power BI dashboard to stay informed anywhere and share with others. 

Microsoft Power BI is helping users spot risks & find opportunities at a glance so they can save the day, every single day.

Watch more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWHnLeT-WXs

Track every change made on Sales Orders in Microsoft Dynamics NAV – and save the history

Every wondered the value of orders you’ve had today and tried to report on that from Dynamics NAV? How do you track the orders you ship & invoice on the same day? How do you include a change in value where previously placed orders are amended or even cancelled?

Dynamics Additions Sales Input Log can keep track and control of the change to value and quantity made on every sales document (orders, invoices, credits & returns) made in Dynamics NAV between two specified times – down to the second.

Use this Dynamics Addition for Microsoft Dynamics NAV to know who is responsible for each entry, change or deletion and be able to dashboard each salesperson's performance to the second.

Then share knowledge of spikes or dips in demand as soon as transactions are entered, enabling you to better react to maximise your market share.

Watch our video to see how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGzWsBxl-d4

When your customers work late, who’s there to take the order?

We all aim to use sophisticated technology, try to remain flexible and responsive, source the best components – but parts of the B2B industry are still missing a trick…

In a world where business practices are only getting more complex and your customers expect 24/7 service, now is the time to make managing changing customer behaviours simpler – for you and them.

Enable your customers to place orders in their own time. Online sales are cost effective, practically self-managing and will save your sales team a lot of stress. And if we are to learn from the omni-channel selling of the B2C community, upgrading your online presence today to serve more of your customers’ needs will pay off almost immediately.

Just one system has to take the lead in your eCommerce journey, and that’s your ERP. With Microsoft Dynamics NAV in place, you have the operational efficiency to excel with online sales. It’s just one small step to eCommerce and all its potential business benefits.

Our eCommerce solution is built specifically for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Seamlessly linking your stock, product, discounts, promotions, and customer information for real-time integration between Dynamics NAV and your online store. Dynamics Additions eCommerce is your short cut to increased revenue and reduced administration.

Online access can transform B2B commerce. Your customers will see you as more responsive, get access to your products from wherever they are and be able to carry on their working day without the bottom-line impact on yours.

And remember, happy customers are far more likely to remain customers. In fact, its reported time and time again that customer satisfaction directly impacts business bottom line for the better. Therefore, making all of your systems easy and accessible for every type of customer can only be a good thing.

To find out more watch these quick videos, or visit www.tecman.co.uk/eCommerce

On-demand account information for your customers

Your finance team will spend a lot of their time, probably more than they would care to admit, dealing with simple customer questions about account information. From outstanding invoices and orders to returns – this isn’t a great use of time for either your staff or your customers.

Give yourselves a break!

Save your customer from having to call or email and keep your staff focused on their day to day tasks by using our simple solution, My Account Portal. Born as part of our Dynamics Additions range, the portal is simple – it gives the power back to your customer.

Customers can log in using their unique login information and see instantly, anytime, their account balances, processing orders and credit notes.  They can even request returns, query an invoice and make online payments…

The flexibility for you and your customers from this Dynamics Addition can genuinely help to take some of the strain off your shoulders. My Account Portal can free up time to focus on your business objectives, whilst increasing customer satisfaction by sharing the tools customers need to work with you more effectively.

Fancy seeing it in action? Pop on to YouTube and watch it step by step…


Learn How Dynamics CRM Can Help Deliver Your Customer Experience Strategy

The Changing Landscape of Customer Service

In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion in digital technology along with an increase in the number of channels and platforms by which customers can interact with our organisations. 

Customers now have information about pricing, products and the competition at their fingertips which means that control of the customer experience has shifted from the sellers to their customers. 

This shift in control also means that more and more pressure is being placed on us as organisations to meet rising customer expectations.  Today’s customers are not just deciding how to shop based on price and product alone, they are also highly influenced by the emotional experience they have with an organisation.  They want us to make them feel welcome, important, valued and understood. 

To do this, we need to earn their trust by delivering a consistently excellent customer experience time after time.  If we do that we can generate a loyal customer base which means customers are more likely to purchase from us again and recommend us to others all of which can lead to increased growth and profitability.

A Winning Customer Experience Strategy

When it comes to creating a great customer experience there are three important aspects that influence how a customer perceives and evaluates their experience with our organisation:

Ease of doing business

Today’s customers are often time poor so they want us to acknowledge that their time is important by making interactions with our organisations as effortless and seamless as possible. Not only that, they want to be able to interact with us anywhere, anytime and on any device

Effectiveness of interactions

Delivering a great customer experience involves having reliable, tight and consistent processes in place along with powerful reporting and analytics which enable us identify and deliver the right service to the right customer at the right time

Emotional connection

Customers’ feelings are becoming facts. Each time a customer interacts with our organisation the experience they have will result in a set of emotions, judgements and intentions to repeat purchase or recommend to others.  

Organisations that successfully deliver against each of the above are the ones that drive loyalty, passion and advocacy for their brand and often outperform their competitors.

How Dynamics CRM Can Help

Dynamics CRM is a strategic toolkit that can help you deliver the easy, effective and emotional experience that your customers want.   It has a number of powerful features that enable you to:

  • Deliver exceptional and personalised customer experiences allowing you to build strong, long-lasting, loyal relationships with your customers
  • Deliver powerful and valuable business insight to support informed decision making and continue to drive your organisation forwards
  • Empower and engage your employees by helping them to understand their responsibilities to customers and allowing them to see the ‘bigger picture’ of customer experience

Benefits to Your Organisation

There are a huge number of benefits that CRM can bring to your business including:

  • Increased customer trust and loyalty
  • Increased growth and profitability
  • Cost and time savings due to improved efficiency and productivity
  • Improved communication internally and externally
  • Higher employee satisfaction
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Measure return on investment for business decisions/initiatives
  • Risk management due to information being stored in a central location

If you’d like to know more about how Dynamics CRM pop over and visit tecman.co.uk/CRM

Don’t leave your reporting in the dark…

Your organisation will use specific business logic; all good businesses do. And it’s that logic that is the backbone of your processes, systems and most importantly – data and reporting.

Getting your business processes right is a top priority – but adding to the already endless list of tasks your processors, finance managers and sales people have to do is a big ask.

Adding in new data to Dynamics NAV dimensions is necessary and for someone who is creating new accounts or managing staff, this could be an everyday occurrence – but did you know that this doesn’t automatically post back in to your Dimensions Values?

That could mean all the documents your team are posting will not get picked up in your reporting correctly – throwing off the information you use to run your business.

In standard Dynamics NAV no notification or prompt will pop up when your team are creating a master data record telling them to add in the associated dimension value – and this will leave you in a pickle…

That’s why we have developed Dynamics Additions Default Dimensions. This simple add on will remove the risk of documents being posted with missing dimensions; saving you time and helping avoid disaster later when analysing and reporting on your company performance. It works through the automatic creation of dimension values when you add new master data – and it will even associate those values with that master data.

This really is an important, cost effective way to ensure your vital data is being posted correctly. Don’t leave your reporting in the dark…

Find out more at www.tecman.co.uk/DefaultDimensions.

10 customer service trends to watch for in 2016

It's easy when being asked about trends to talk about innovative technology and features you know will make a splash – but instead we wanted to focus on what we see the thought leaders of the customer service industry concentrating on.

With customer service and customer experience beginning to overtake price and product as brand differentiators, now is the time to really empower and embrace the age of the customer…

  1. Mobile

    The integration of mobile technology into the overall experience equation for business will have a significant impact.

    Mobiles has been viewed and built into many companies as its own silo. When merged to be a part of the customer engagement solution across channels, across touch-points, it will bring a way for companies to be both proactive and responsive in delivering the "one-company" customer experiences. It would be proactive for organisations to merge mobile information and usage with operational data to enable them to reach out before customers reach out to them, to build brand stickiness and to rescue customers at risk.

  1. Talent

    Leaders of organisations who are serious about service are going to start focusing on developing talent plans for service and support, looking at:

    • Understanding the shortcomings of the current service workforce
    • Identifying training strategies and told to better support the current workforce
    • Developing the knowledge strategies to retain the insight and information of the top performing workforce
    • Building recruitment and training plans to develop the next service workforce

    The demands for service and support continue to increase. Most organisations see the strain on their current service resources as businesses continue to diversify and expand to uncover new revenue streams. In addition to ensuring coverage for service requests, organisations would also like to differentiate via the service experience that is delivered, which is substantially impacted by talent.

  1. Journey Mapping

    The customer journey map.

    Why? Because you can't transform something you don't understand. Journey maps, when designed and use properly, help the entire organisation understand what customers are going through as they interact with your organisation. You can't improve customer service if you don't know where things are going well and where they are breaking down.

    One of the key learnings as a result of mapping the journey customers take when trying to contact or interact with service or support reps is that the customer service department is not the only department involved in a service interaction. When we can identify ownership of steps along the journey, we learn that other departments are also integral to customer service interaction. We need to get to that level of detail in order to design a better experience.

  1. Focus on Customers

    Keeping it simple for customers is critical. We all know the customer is the focus. When, and if, we lose sight of that is when the problems start. Keep your eye on the customer. Keep it simple. Keep it fair.

  1. Social Media

    Customer service will see increased demand and growth in digital channels, especially via social media and self-service via mobile apps.

    Mobile continues to evolve and improve in so many ways. Bandwidth is getting larger, smart phones are getting bigger, and tablets continue to outpace laptops in innovation and execution. With the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices, the demand and growth becomes nearly undeniable. Customers increasingly want support to be on-demand. Social media networks provide that asynchronous support with a human touch, while self-help apps and forums provide information on the go.

    Organisations need to embrace the idea that customer service is not a cost centre, but a profit centre. In most cases, it is cheaper to retain a customer by providing excellent customer support when needed than to acquire once with traditional marketing.

  1. Self-Service

    The trend towards self-service solutions is gaining in popularity. The phone may still be the number one way customers interact with the companies they do business with, but self-service is still strongly trending. This can be in the form of something as simple as a "frequently asked question" page on a website.  

    One of the best self-service solutions is video. Simple "how to" videos on YouTube or on a company's website can be like having the customer support rep personally helping you at the pace that's convenient to you.

    People want information quickly – if you have to go to a company's website to look up a contact number, you may as well look around and see if there is a self-service solution offered. And the millennial generation seems to be into the self-service option more than others, and that is a big part of our customer population.

  1. Internet of things

    The ability to bring the Internet of Things in to the forefront of customer service engagement and issue resolution.

    Today, many of the leading brands are good at providing rich knowledge answers through the self service options, which creates more effortless experiences for customers. As the Internet of Things becomes part of the mainstream customer service reality and many of the issues that require proactive service today will be eliminated, with the ability to provide predictive service and empower brands to take pre-emptive action.

    It will also give brands the opportunity to engage with their customers in a more personalised way with useful insights based on awareness, patterns, and trends.

  1. Convenience

    Customers want what they want, when they want it. Smart companies are demonstrating there is the monumental business model shift in empowering customers with more control over their services, and with the timely and always-accessible customer service to support it. Web and mobiles apps and front line staff must be ready.

    The bar for customer service expectations continues to rise, so providing service that saves time and is easy to use is exactly what people want – but not all companies are leveraging this today.

  1. Knowledge

    The availability and accessibility of knowledge, both internally and externally, is vital.

    Many brands and organisations are jumping ahead and making big investments in items such as personalisation and customised customer journeys before they get the basics right… but this is like building a house on the sand. If you don't have a solid service foundation, the beautiful front door and the foyer painted in the customer's favourite colour won't keep the customer relationship standing for long.

    A recent Economist Intelligence Unit report supports this theory. In a survey of more than 2000 global consumers, when asked which parts were more important in an ideal customer experience, respondents listed fast response to enquiries or complaints (47%) as their top choice, with personalisation (12%), relationship building (10%) and customised offers based on preferences (7%) all landing near the bottom. The availability and accessibility of knowledge matters.

  1. Customer Engagement

    Companies will need to evolve from customer service to customer engagement – and learn how to change during that very experience.

    Imagine a barman asking you, as a first time customer, what kind of gin would you like for your martini and then, remembering you, making it exactly as you like it every time thereafter, asking first if you would like the same or try another brand. To be that focused on each customer's preferences, companies will need to rely on technology to store that information and to have it readily accessible for everyone in the company who interacts with the customer for subsequent interactions. Only then will the customer truly be served and remain loyal.

    Not only will the experience have to be engaging, it has to be personalised too. A company could have thousands of customers being served by hundreds of employees. But no one customer cares about the other customers. All he cares about is himself. And when he is speaking with one employee, he is asking "Does this employee care about me?" – you have to take the time to make your customers feel important.

Driving forward

If you're interested in how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help you deliver intelligent customer service, get in touch with Technology Management today.