Over the past twenty years, travel expense management has evolved at a steady pace. However, these last five years have seen the sector grow exponentially. Where once we relied on pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets to log our expenses, the rise of the smartphone has changed customer expectations for good.
Thanks to industry disruptors such as Uber, Netflix and AirBnB, a frictionless experience has fast become the norm. Consumers expect instant gratification in a world where ordering a pizza is as easy as talking to Google. Yet some 61% European large companies admit to not yet using a web based TEM solution. Unsurprisingly, the market of Travel and Expense Management (TEM) applications is experiencing double-digit growth.
Because if you’re still manually filing travel requests and expenses, you’re missing a trick. Technology has placed the world at our fingertips and automating your processes should be as easy as finding a restaurant for your next business meal. Today’s TEM solutions have progressed immensely since those first T&E applications introduced by ERP vendors. While they may have helped policy enforcement, they weren’t particularly user-friendly.
Frictionless Customer Journey
And today, user-friendliness and convenience have become the unshakable foundations on which user experience is built. Anything that might be considered a source of annoyance is being rooted out of the customer journey. Consider your own behaviours: you’re not likely to return to a website with a never-ending series of popup windows. And if the supermarket queue looks too long, chances are you’re simply going to turn on your heels and get that pint of milk from the corner shop instead.
The same thing holds true for your TEM solution. If it’s not convenient, it’s not adding value. And by added value, we mean across the board. It should allow you to analyse spending patterns and trends from a micro to macro level for informed decision making. Your IT department should be able to implement and maintain it without breaking a sweat. Your star dealmaker should be able to upload an expense claim as easily as they Skype the home front. And its approval should be as quick as queuing your next track on iTunes. Simply put: a good TEM solution should add value to your business, your processes and your employees.
We can argue the merits of Android over Apple, but any professional worth their salt (and most toddlers for that matter) knows exactly how to take a picture or attach a file to an email. So why should managing your expenses be any more complicated? Thankfully, technology has come a long way since those first T&E applications. The integration of features such as “one touch expenses” means capturing and reporting expenses on the go has finally become as easy as taking a picture with your smartphone.
Sophisticated solutions like SpendCatcher® by MobileXpense allow you to upload requests at the touch of a button. Thanks to Optical Character Recognition technology - or OCR - a simple snap with your smartphone camera is enough to extract the data from your receipts. Vendor, date and amount are automatically added to your expense report; a huge timesaver when you're on the road.
This also simplifies the controller's work as payment card data is automatically reconciled with the submitted receipts. This makes for seamless validation and quick reimbursement. Data analytics allows you to both manage and audit employees’ business expenses, and hold them up against income, for a clear answer as to where your focus should be.
Because no matter how automated our processes become, we are still in the people business. We travel because we have a goal. A target to meet. A deal to make. And every night spent away from home should represent business growth, just as every business meal should represent a sale, now or in the future. Whether you’re a blue chip or an SME, certain truths are universal. However, not all solutions are equal. Decades of experience have brought us to where we are today. Which is why we can confidently say we know what works, and what does not.
The Future of TEM
Indeed, smartphones may have made travellers both more connected and more mobile, but it has brought about important changes to the product customer journey itself. With customers demanding less hassle and expecting immediate results, a strong focus has been placed on creating a truly frictionless and reliable user experience from TEM software. It’s why you need a supplier who excels in this, and more, as our customers will tell you.