How many decisions does your company make in a day? It’s probably an almost endless number. From the CEO’s office to the newest employee in the call center, everyone up and down the org chart has to make many decisions to deliver your products and services to your customers. These decisions are crucial to the bottom line on your balance sheet.
But the thing about decisions is this—anyone can get a decision wrong.
* A customer service rep on the phone can refuse to give a refund when one is warranted, driving a longtime customer away in the process.
* A plant manager can put the wrong product on the wrong assembly line, resulting in lower productivity or more mistakes.
* A CIO can misinterpret increased traffic volume to an e-commerce system and fail to account for customers looking to purchase right this moment.
While people are better than machines at coming up with creative solutions to questions, they aren’t always reliable to make consistent decisions.
That’s where rules engines come in. These engines can use preset rules and/or algorithms to make a decision for an employee, or at least to recommend a decision. This eliminates the guesswork and lets employees spend their time making the hard decisions, not the easy ones.
Rules engines can be based on existing data, and it is now becoming possible to use machine learning to improve algorithms based on how employees react to recommended decision. This means that rules engines are already a powerful tool, and they are becoming exponentially more powerful with the advance of technology.
So you need to consider how a rules engine could benefit your business. Here are four key areas where your company could reap the rewards.
The first benefit is the most obvious—better decision-making. By either recommending or enforcing a certain decision, a rules engine can help your business eliminate waste and improve profitability.
We have one client that sells insurance policies to customers, and their entire bottom line is based on the best resolution of eligible claims. A rules engine is helping the front-line employees make the right decision the first time about whether a claim is covered or not. Another algorithm-based rules engine will help to determine what the most cost-effective way of fulfilling an eligible claim. Both of these decisions have a huge impact on the profitability of the company, and so making better decisions will make a big difference.
Your company’s decisions are likely different than this use case, but the reality is that, whatever your decisions are, they hold value for your company. Using a rules engine to help you make better decisions will benefit the bottom line.
Humans make mistakes. That’s not a good or bad thing—it’s just the way it is. But it's also the way it is to say that mistakes can take a toll on your business. Rules engines can provide a level of protection against mistakes. The rules engine can be built to stop the mistake, or to provide a warning light to help the human running the software avoid the mistake.
So when you’re considering an investment in a rules engine, you need to understand the cost of a mistake. Look back over the errors that have cost your company money over the past few years, and consider which of them a rules engine could have prevented.
Of course, software can’t stop every mistake your people can make. But if you can use this kind of tool to stop some of them, you can likely get a return on investment pretty rapidly.
The problem with having people make decisions is not just whether the choices are right or wrong. It also has to do with how long it takes them to make the decision. When employees have to think through decisions, they work slower. A rules engine that makes the decision for them, or at least gives them a recommended decision, can speed up the process so they can be more productive.
We saw this work for Athene Annuity. They needed to help employees make a decision on whether an annuity form was compliant. The rules engine was one of the factors that led to a dramatic increase in employee productivity—which helped the company move millions of dollars of revenue forward, improving the bottom line.
The goal of any company’s leadership is to help employees do their jobs well. Rules engines let them do just that. It lets them make easy decisions quickly, which helps them do more work and have clearer minds when it comes time to make a decision with more complicated factors.
We’ve talked a lot about how rules engines help the bottom line. But there’s another KPI that a rules engine can affect—customer satisfaction.
The old maxim that the customer is always right isn’t always the case, of course. Anyone who has run a call center can tell you as much. But do you know what is always right? The contract.
When you use a rules engine to make decisions that match what the contracts say, you help your company live up to its contracts. This will result in customers getting what they’ve paid for—which is the path to sustainable customer satisfaction.
Rules engines are powerful tools. When your company deploys them strategically, you’ll soon be able to measure the value they bring to your company.
Is it time for your business to add a rules engine to its software stack?
Now that you know the basics, the decision is yours.