3 Steps to Automate Customer Service Team

3 Steps to Automate Customer Service Team

3 Steps to Automate Customer Service Team

When communicating with potential clients, one of the most common questions we receive is, “My Customer Service team is too small. They cannot provide a sufficient level of support to our wide client base. What can I do?”

We understand this concern and would like to provide you with a more detailed analysis to help you find a solution. The past few years have brought many changes to the labour market, with contact centres being hit particularly hard. Many telesales employees left the UK, while others had to change occupations due to the lack of work for two years. As a result, companies are struggling to fill open Customer Service positions, which can lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction and retention.

According to Food and Engineering magazine, the UK’s labour productivity in the food and drink industry is unremarkable compared to other developed markets in Western Europe. “Food and drink supply chains in peer countries have seen better labour productivity gains over the last decade, leaving the UK behind. This has created a second productivity ‘gap,’ and the UK supply chain may continue to lose ground.”

If you are facing issues with your Contact Centre, it is important to understand that you are not alone in this struggle. However, you need more than this information to improve your business. We can work together to find a solution that fits your unique needs and improves your Customer Service team’s productivity. Let’s explore a few options in this article.


3 Steps to Automate Customer Service Team:

  1. Robotic Process Automation Strategy (RPA).
  2. Training Programmes.
  3. Technology Investments.

Robotic Process Automation Strategy.

We are currently living through the 4th industrial revolution, which is primarily focused on digitisation of manual processes. This transformation is rapidly changing the way technology, industries, and processes operate in the 21st century. One of the key areas of focus is a robotic process automation (RPA) strategy.

Robotic process automation strategy is an essential plan that outlines how a business can streamline its processes and increase productivity through the use of technology. It involves identifying areas within the business that can benefit from RPA and implementing tools and systems to improve efficiency.

RPA strategy is becoming increasingly important for businesses, particularly those with small customer service teams. By automating tasks such as data entry and order processing, businesses can reduce the workload of their customer service team and improve the overall customer experience. Process automation also provides businesses with valuable insights into customer behaviour, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and improve their offerings.

It is essential to recognise that relying solely on traditional methods can result in unexpected drops in demand for your products, or even worse, a decrease in the number of accounts. Such a decline could have a severe impact on your business, especially if your customer service team is ill-equipped to handle the influx of customers who are prepared to leave.

However, with the latest RPA technology, companies can implement AI tools like the Declining Account feature created by Allsop. This feature enables businesses to gain access to a drilled-down dashboard with their customers’ order history, receive notifications when customer behaviour changes, and check the overall trend of their latest products. By tracking customers who are purchasing less this week than their average purchase over the past 13 weeks, businesses can retain customers who are ready to leave.

Moreover, process automation technology provides businesses with better customer service and gives them a competitive advantage. By having a customer portal, businesses can automatically fill and update orders, allowing their team to focus on high-value tasks and re-engage salespeople in other aspects of the business.

This is exactly how businesses can adopt an RPA strategy to improve their overall customer experience and streamline their operations. This technology provides valuable insights into customer behaviour, enables data-driven decision-making, and helps businesses retain customers who are ready to leave. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to embrace change and adopt innovative solutions to remain competitive in the market.

Training Programmes.

Implementing an RPA strategy can significantly improve a business’s overall efficiency, particularly in customer service. However, it’s essential to understand that the strategy’s success depends on whether your team has the necessary skills and knowledge to operate the new technology. For this reason, training programmes are vital and should be a top priority when implementing a process automation strategy.

Training programmes can help bridge the gaps in your team’s expertise and ensure they can effectively use the new tools and systems. By providing training, your team can learn how to collect order information in one place, proceed with orders automatically within seconds, and provide the latest data to your clients. This can significantly reduce your customer service team’s workload and improve the overall customer experience.

Another significant advantage of training programmes is that they can help your team adapt to changes in customer behaviour and provide tailored support. As we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses today is the shortage of employees in customer service teams. This shortage can have an adverse impact on business operations.

For example, Pret had 40% of its personnel as Europeans. After Brexit, the employees left the country, and the remaining employees were laid off due to the pandemic. As a result, the company now has limited resources, and providing customer service on the same level has become challenging.

However, with the latest technology available, businesses can gain insights into customer behaviour, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and improve their offerings. Customer service teams that are trained to understand and interpret customer behaviour can provide more personalised support, leading to higher customer satisfaction rates.

Moreover, training programmes can also help reduce the learning curve and minimise the time it takes for your team to become proficient in using the new technology. This can lead to faster adoption and implementation of the automation strategy, ultimately resulting in faster ROI.

It’s important to note that training programmes should not be a one-time event. Instead, they should be an ongoing process to ensure your team is up-to-date with the latest technology and trends. Regular training can help your team stay ahead of the curve and provide better customer service.

Especially when leveraging the latest technology, you can provide an extraordinary experience to your customers, even with a limited workforce. This way, the number of people in your team will no longer be a differentiator between good and bad service, and you will be able to provide excellent customer service, irrespective of your team’s size.

Technology Investments.

While we mentioned the need to automate processes, it is essential to do so only when your teams are equipped with modern technologies. Blaming software tools is easy when you have a limited number of team members and want to increase productivity. However, it is unlikely to succeed if they store all customer data in Excel, have poor visibility of orders, and lack an analytics dashboard to make data-driven decisions.

We discovered that 74% of FMCG companies receive orders by phone and email, manually processing incoming requests, and entering 50 to 100 lines in each order form, leaving them with tedious tasks.

During our research, companies mentioned various issues with collecting orders by phone or email. For example, the main problem was data mistakes.

Due to a high turnover rate in the Customer Service industry, many employees do not have enough experience or have never been trained to input information onto the platform correctly. Therefore, they process orders with errors.

On the other hand, due to the high volume of work, Operation Specialists key in data mistakes, leading to customers receiving incorrect products or a wrong number of goods.

Moreover, poor internal software is likely to be slower, more glitchy, and less reliable than the industry standard, resulting in more instances of customers being placed on hold, and a subsequent increase in overall call times.

This is where technology investments come into play.

With a third of businesses processing orders manually, only 26% of companies use a platform for order management. This automation provides them with better customer service and gives them a competitive advantage.

“We have a customer portal, and we couldn’t imagine our working life without it! Customers place orders that are automatically filled and updated accordingly in our system. It takes almost no time for the platform to fill the form when our orders have between 50 to 100 lines! Our team now deals only with exceptions or orders coming via phone. It allows us to reengage salespeople in other aspects of the business and allows them to take part in high-value tasks.” – Sales Coordinator.


In conclusion, small customer service teams can pose a threat to Food and Beverage businesses, but with the right strategies in place, they can also be an opportunity.

It is important to understand the challenges facing small customer service teams, such as employee shortages in the industry, and to find solutions that fit your unique needs. Adopting an RPA strategy, implementing training programs, and investing in technology can significantly improve the efficiency of your customer service team and enhance the overall customer experience.

By embracing change and adopting innovative solutions, businesses can remain competitive in the market and provide excellent customer service, regardless of the size of their team.

Do you want to improve customer satisfaction and take your small team to new heights? We have great news for you! We understand that implementing new technology can be daunting, so we offer a free process audit. Reach out to us for more information here.

If you want to know the latest technologies that help companies just like yours, we created a newsletter to provide the latest industry news, tips, and resources to help you succeed in your business endeavours.

Subscribe to it below, and stay up to date with the latest trends and tips to make sure you’re always ahead of the curve. 

Digital Transformation Strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

Digital Transformation Strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

Digital Transformation Strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

Digital transformation strategy is more than just a buzzword; it has become an imperative for businesses to not just survive, but also thrive in the modern economy. The food and beverage industry is no exception to this trend. With the rapid pace of technological advancements and constantly evolving consumer demands, businesses operating in this sector must keep up with these changes to remain relevant and competitive.

This can include transforming their operational processes, adopting new technologies to enhance their customer experience, and exploring new ways to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers. By embracing digital transformation strategy, businesses can unlock new opportunities, improve their bottom line, and ultimately, secure their place in the market for years to come.

However, how do you implement a digital transformation strategy in your company? 


Digital Transformation Strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

  1. Define Your Goals and Strategy
  2. Evaluate Your Business Processes
  3. Finding the Right Digital Transformation Partner

Step 1. Define Your Goals and Strategy

Digital Transformation Strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

Defining your goals and strategy is essential before embarking on any digital transformation project. What do you want to achieve through digital transformation? Is it to improve efficiency, reduce costs, or enhance the customer experience? Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can develop a strategy that aligns with them.

It is important to set a realistic plan from the start and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, establish methods of communication to provide feedback and keep everyone informed. Defining key performance indicators (KPIs) can also help track progress and ensure that goals are being achieved.

A common mistake to avoid is relying on third-party companies to develop your digital transformation strategy. No one knows your internal issues and problems better than you do. Therefore, it is best to evaluate your business processes with internal help. By being part of the project team, they can quickly provide feedback on what may make the process inefficient or add dissatisfaction to the experience.

Step 2. Evaluate Your Business Processes.

Digital Transformation Strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

A Digital transformation strategy is an ongoing process that requires a comprehensive evaluation of your current business processes. It’s not just about implementing new technology; it’s about using technology to improve your existing processes. By closely examining your current processes, you can identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks that could be improved with digitization. You can work with internal stakeholders, such as your team and colleagues, to ensure that any changes made will work effectively on a day-to-day basis.

In addition to identifying areas that could benefit from digitisation, you can also use this evaluation to identify areas of your business that could benefit from automation or optimisation. For example, you may find that certain manual tasks can be automated to save time and improve accuracy. Or, you may identify areas where data analysis can be used to optimise operations and improve decision-making.

Overall, evaluating your business processes is a critical step in achieving successful digital transformation. By taking a holistic approach and involving internal stakeholders, you can identify areas for improvement and implement changes that will drive greater efficiency and productivity in your business.

Step 3. Finding the Right Digital Transformation Partner.

Digital Transformation strategy in Food and Beverage: Where to Start?

Selecting the right partner for your digital transformation strategy project can be critical to its success. Therefore, invest time in researching potential partners as soon as you identify your goals and strategy. Start by looking at their website to get a feel for their services and areas of expertise. Then, consider speaking with their existing customers to better understand their experiences and satisfaction working with the partner.

Note that big digital transformation companies on the market do not always equate to successful transformation. Instead, search for software providers who have worked in the same industry as yours and know all your pain points. Small agencies can provide a better solution for your company and improve the processes you identified for digitisation.


In conclusion, a digital transformation strategy is a necessary step for food and beverage companies to remain competitive and meet the ever-changing demands of consumers. To ensure a successful digital transformation project, it is important to define clear goals and strategies, evaluate current business processes, and select the right partner for the project. By taking these steps, companies can unlock new opportunities, improve their operational efficiency, and ultimately secure their place in the market for years to come.

If you want to know the latest technologies that help companies just like yours, we created a newsletter to provide the latest industry news, tips, and resources to help you succeed in your business endeavours.

Subscribe to it below, and stay up to date with the latest trends and tips to make sure you’re always ahead of the curve. 

What is the Allsop Order Management System?

What is the Allsop Order Management System?

What is the Allsop Order Management System?

In recent years, the Food Tech and Manufacturing sectors have increasingly embraced technology to enhance their customer service. Given the extensive range of products that businesses deal with, ensuring a seamless experience for customers becomes essential. Modern enterprises are proactively adopting a cutting-edge Order Management System to improve their service delivery and provide the best possible customer experience.

As Order Management System specialists who have worked with over 100 Food and Beverage businesses, we have first-hand experience with how Order Management System can optimise your business, especially when most processes in companies are complex and clunky.

This month, we conducted research and had a chat about technology concerns with 700 Food and Beverage professionals in the UK and ROI. The information we uncovered is astonishing! Before delving into the results, let’s define what we mean by Order Management System.


order management system, what is it? what is order management system?

What is the Allsop Order Management System?

Order Management System is the comprehensive process of seamlessly handling customer orders, from the moment they are received in your inbox, to their successful fulfilment and timely delivery.

A robust Order Management System is essential for effectively managing the entire lifecycle of an order, ensuring accuracy, punctuality, and ultimately, customer satisfaction. With such a system in place, businesses can streamline their operations and elevate their service quality, meeting customer expectations with unmatched efficiency.

Order Management System Process

Order Management System comprises various functions and sections depending on the provider and your business needs. However, here is a list of the most popular process steps of any Order Management System:

Order Capture: This stage involves capturing customer orders through different channels, such as online platforms, phone calls, or email transactions. The order details, including products or services, quantities, pricing, and customer information, are recorded.

Order Processing: Once an order is captured, it needs to be processed. This involves verifying the order details, checking product availability, and validating customer information. The order may go through various checks, such as credit verification or inventory availability, to ensure that it can be fulfilled.

Order Fulfilment: After processing, the order moves to the fulfilment stage. This includes picking the ordered items from the warehouse or assembling them, packaging, labelling, and preparing the order for shipment.

Reporting and Analytics: Order Management System often generates reports and analytics to provide insights into various aspects of the order process. This includes tracking order metrics, inventory levels, and customer behaviour.

Efficient Order Management System is critical for businesses to meet customer expectations, streamline operations, minimise errors, and optimise inventory utilisation. Now that we know many organisations employ Order Management System to automate and streamline these processes, let’s explore the primary concerns they have before implementing a new tool into their systems.

order management system examples, order management system process, order management system concerns

Order Management System Concerns

We conducted extensive research with more than 700 professionals in the Food and Beverage industry. Over the research, we noticed that although many businesses understand the need for technology adaptation, they still have several key concerns for implementing Order Management System. Let’s explore them.

Cost: Implementing and maintaining new technologies can be expensive, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with limited budgets. The cost includes not only the initial purchase or development of technology, but also ongoing expenses like maintenance, upgrades, and training.

Integration and Compatibility: Many food and beverage businesses already have existing systems in place, such as point-of-sale (POS) systems, inventory management, and supply chain solutions. Integrating new technologies with these legacy systems can be challenging. Compatibility issues, data synchronisation, and interoperability can pose significant obstacles to technology adoption.

Staff Training and Skills: Introducing new technologies often requires training employees to use them effectively. Depending on the complexity of the technology, staff members may need to acquire new skills or adapt their current ones. Training costs, resistance to change, and the learning curve associated with new technologies are factors that businesses must consider.

Data Security and Privacy: Data security and privacy are major concerns, given the increasing digitisation of the Food and Beverage industry. Food businesses handle sensitive information, including customer data, payment details, and proprietary recipes. Ensuring robust security measures, protecting against data breaches, and complying with relevant regulations (e.g., GDPR, CCPA) is vital when adopting new technologies.

Customer Experience and Personalisation: Technology adoption can greatly impact customer experience. Finding the right balance between automation and maintaining a personal touch can be challenging. Over-reliance on technology might lead to reduced human interaction, potentially affecting customer satisfaction and loyalty. Businesses need to carefully consider how technology can enhance, rather than detract from, the overall customer experience.

what is order management, examples of order management


In conclusion, Order Management System is a crucial component of businesses in the Food and Beverage industry. As the industry becomes increasingly digitised, it is essential to adopt the latest technologies to streamline operations and meet customer expectations.

Order Management Systems process can help businesses handle the entire lifecycle of an order, from capturing it to fulfilling it, ensuring accuracy, punctuality, and customer satisfaction. However, businesses must consider concerns such as cost, integration, staff training, data security and privacy, and customer experience when implementing Order Management System.

At Allsop Software, we have first-hand experience working with over 100 Food and Beverage businesses and understand the benefits and challenges of implementing Order Management System. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you optimise your business.

If you want to know the latest technologies that help companies just like yours, we created a newsletter to provide the latest industry news, tips, and resources to help you succeed in your business endeavours.

Subscribe to it below, and stay up to date with the latest trends and tips to make sure you’re always ahead of the curve. 

The Power of Order Management

The Power of Order Management

The Power of Order Management

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, automation has become a game-changer for organisations looking to streamline their operations and stay ahead of the competition.

According to McKinsey, a staggering 45% of work activities could be automated using existing technology.

However, when it comes to automating processes in customer service, opinions are divided. While some see it as a cost-saving measure, others fear it may lead to job cuts. It is crucial for company officials to highlight the positive aspects of automation and emphasise how new technologies can enhance employees’ day-to-day tasks.

In this article, we will explore how automation can significantly improve order processes and enhance the overall working life of employees. By leveraging the power of order management software, businesses can effectively address repetitive and manual tasks, optimise operational efficiency, and elevate customer satisfaction.


3 Ways to Utilise The Power of Order Management:

  1. Reduce Repetitive Tasks for Enhanced Productivity
  2. Identify Automation Opportunities in Customer Service
  3. Unlock Time for High-Value Work

Reduce Repetitive Tasks for Enhanced Productivity

The Power of Order Management

For most consumers, the customer service team serves as the initial point of contact with a company. However, over 40% of employees in this department spend a significant portion of their workweek on manual, repetitive tasks. Tasks like email management, data collection, and data entry consume valuable time and hinder productivity.

By automating order processes with an order management solution, businesses can minimise errors associated with manual data collection and free up their team members to focus on more meaningful customer interactions. This, in turn, leads to higher customer satisfaction rates.

Identify Automation Opportunities in Customer Service

The Power of Order Management

As awareness about automation grows among customer service teams, employees are increasingly recognising its potential to improve their working lives. In fact, statistics indicate that nearly 70% of workers believe the greatest opportunity for automation lies in reducing time wasted on repetitive tasks.

But what specific tasks can be automated to drive efficiency? At Allsop Software, we have identified three key areas that often impede productive work for our clients:

Data Collection: With the implementation of an order management software, manual data entry becomes a thing of the past. Businesses can now rely on automated data collection processes, ensuring order accuracy and eliminating the need for time-consuming manual entry.

Updates: By leveraging automation solutions, customer service teams can significantly reduce the time wasted on requesting updates and other relevant information. Automated systems can seamlessly fetch the required data, allowing employees to focus on more critical tasks.

Approvals: Collecting approvals and confirmations can be a time-consuming process. However, with the right automation solution in place, businesses can streamline approval workflows and improve overall efficiency.

Unlock Time for High-Value Work

The Power of Order Management

When repetitive tasks are automated, customer service teams gain valuable time to engage with customers on a deeper level and tackle more complex tasks. Studies have shown that nearly 60% of employees estimate they could save six or more hours a week if the repetitive aspects of their jobs were automated. This newfound time can be dedicated to building stronger customer relationships, resolving complex issues, and driving innovation within the organisation.

At Allsop Software, we have developed the Order Management Solution, a comprehensive software designed to eliminate manual repetitive processes and initiate workflow automation. By implementing our solution, businesses have witnessed a quantum leap in customer satisfaction.

One of our clients attested to the benefits of our software, stating, “With the Order Management Solution implemented, we have already noticed remarkable improvements for our customers. Working closely with Allsop Software, we have been able to build on our initial requirements and develop a solution that supports us going forward.”


The Power of Order Management

The adoption of order management software and automation in customer service processes brings immense benefits to businesses. By reducing repetitive tasks, identifying automation opportunities, and unlocking time for high-value work, companies can enhance operational efficiency, elevate customer satisfaction, and empower their employees to focus on tasks that truly matter. Embracing automation is no longer a luxury but a necessity in today’s competitive landscape.

If you want to know the latest technologies that help companies just like yours, we created a newsletter to provide the latest industry news, tips, and resources to help you succeed in your business endeavours.

Subscribe to it below, and stay up to date with the latest trends and tips to make sure you’re always ahead of the curve. 

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service with RPA in Food & Beverage

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service with RPA in Food & Beverage

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service with RPA

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is currently a hot topic in the Food and Beverage industry. However, many manufacturers are still resistant to the actual need for it. Some believe they are better off without it, while others have implemented too many systems, exhausting their IT teams. This is why it’s essential to have a system in place before embarking on your automation journey.

However, before we go any further, let’s clarify what Robotic Process Automation (RPA) stands for.

Robotic Process Automation is a term that is used to refer to a software tool that is developed to either partially or fully automate a routine task that is normally completed by a human.

RPA is used to automate tasks that are rule-based and repetitive such as data re-entry from one system to another. The software bot tends to imitate the action that would have been completed by a human.

In this article, we will guide you through the benefits of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the Food and Beverage industry, and show you how automating one department can improve your overall company’s profile.

Today we will talk about customer service and how we uncovered the possibility of RPA to improve your customer service team and skyrocket your customer satisfaction rate.

Now, why should you consider automating processes in your customer service team? From our research, we found out that 74% of companies in the Food and Beverage industry have no automation in the customer service department. However, they still have lost order emails, limited resources to fill in order forms, and a lack of stock and delivery information.


Let’s check 3 ways to improve customer service with RPA:

  1. All orders are in one place
  2. Free up your customer service team
  3. Deliver orders on time
ways to streamline customer service with RPA

All orders are in one place

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service with RPA

Managing food and beverage orders can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with multiple emails and scattered information. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), however, you can streamline this process and ensure that all information regarding orders is stored in one place. This not only saves time but also minimises the risk of lost emails or misplaced information.

One way to achieve this is through the use of order management systems (OMS), especially with a Procure Wizard plug-in. OMS allows your customer service team to easily automate and manage all orders coming from an inbox and Procure Wizard directly into your ERP. This capability not only improves efficiency but also enhances the customer experience, as your team can quickly and accurately respond to any inquiries regarding orders.

Check how our customer, Vegetarian Express, saves valuable time by reducing manual order keying with AllSop Order Management Solution.

Moreover, all emails related to orders are automatically logged into a dashboard, making it easier for your team to keep track of all communication. This RPA tool frees up your team to perform more valuable tasks, such as providing personalised support to customers and developing new strategies to improve the customer journey.

Order Management System with a Procure Wizard plug-in is particularly beneficial for remote teams, as it enables independent work and ensures that all necessary information on orders is readily available. Even if some team members are on vacation or taking time off, the OMS makes it easy for others to pick up where they left off and manage orders seamlessly.

Free up your customer service team

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service with RPA

Processing orders manually can be a time-consuming task for your team, especially when email and Procure Wizard order forms contain 50 to 100 lines.

Our research shows that on average, it takes an entire day to manually input all the required information.

However, if your orders are collected automatically, your team will have more time to cover other tasks and provide high-level service to your customers. This means that they can invest more time and effort in improving customer satisfaction, building strong relationships with clients, and creating better customer experience strategies for your Food and Beverage business.

In addition, freeing up your team’s time can lead to a more relaxed and less stressed work environment, which can increase productivity and overall morale. With automated order processing, your team can work more efficiently and effectively, resulting in better performance and greater success.

what is order management, examples of order management

Deliver orders on time

3 Ways to Improve Customer Service with RPA

How many times have you seen the Food and Beverage’s marketing messages that promise next-day delivery if you order by 13:00, only to find out it never works? We know of at least a few examples! But we also know the reason behind it.

The order email was opened too late.

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), you can forget about this issue. Let us show you how it works!

In a nutshell, Allsop’s RPA tool helps to bring all information from the customer service team’s archives into the automated dashboard. As soon as you receive an email or Procure Wizard order, the software will automatically check it, identify products that can or cannot be delivered, estimate the delivery date and flag any issues that the order might have.

This leads the customer service team to deal only with the exceptions and issues the system identifies, giving them more time to work on valuable tasks. If there are no issues, the automation software creates a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, which is then used by your ERP System to upload the order without any manual work.


In conclusion, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can greatly benefit your Food and Beverage business, especially when it comes to improving customer service. Automating processes in the customer service team can help keep all orders in one place (both from an inbox and Procure Wizard), free up the team’s time, and ensure timely delivery of orders. By embracing RPA, you can meet the changing market requirements and improve your overall profile. Don’t be left behind – start your Robotic Process Automation (RPA) journey today!

If you want to know the latest technologies that help companies just like yours, we created a newsletter to provide the latest industry news, tips, and resources to help you succeed in your business endeavours.

Subscribe to it below, and stay up to date with the latest trends and tips to make sure you’re always ahead of the curve.