Wanting to improve customer service is a basic desire of every good business, however people don’t typically look toward ERP technology to do this. We’re going to explain exactly how good ERP technology can improve customer service.
When business owners think of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technology and its potential benefits, there’s a tendency to think just in terms of improved internal business processes and streamlined operations. And it’s not hard to see why. The right ERP solution makes operations more efficient and more productive while reducing the day-to-day costs of running a business. By integrating and automating the most critical moving parts within a business, the potential to achieve ambitious revenue and profit targets is greatly increased.
What should not be underestimated, however, is the huge role ERP technology can play in improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. At a time when customers are demanding more from their product and service providers – largely in the form of speedy deliveries, accurate order fulfilment, fast enquiry response times and competitive prices – it’s those companies that get the customer service formula right that stand the best chance of succeeding in the long term. When your customers feel that you care about them and are looking after them, they will return to you again and again.
So how does a quality ERP solution fuel the customer service machine to improve customer service? There are plenty of ways.
Single Source of Information
When a customer calls to enquire about an order or a product or whatever, they want their enquiry handled quickly and to receive the right information. No-one likes being bounced around from one business rep to the next, or to be given information that later proves to be inaccurate. By centralising all relevant information within the one database, the agent has all the information they need, at their fingertips, to give fast and correct answers to whatever questions the customer might have. When something goes wrong, the agent can leverage the power of their ERP system to quickly address the issue. Rather than having to say, ‘I’ll get back to you on that’ or ‘I’m not exactly sure what happened’, the rep has what they need, right in front of them on the computer screen, to identify what went wrong and what can be done to turn an unsatisfied customer into a satisfied one. Obviously the way a complaint is handled in general will also impact customer satisfaction.
The business intelligence capabilities within an ERP system also places the customer rep in an improved position when it comes to anticipating the needs of customers. This is because an ERP solution can provide a holistic, 360-degree view of any customer’s journey with your business. At any time an agent can pull up a customer’s complete sales history (along with details of each interaction) and, based on that information, reach out to the customer with value-add services, upsell opportunities, special offers and other incentives to ensure that when it comes time for the customer to make their next purchase, your company is the one they do business with.
An ERP solution also enables customer service personnel to have confidence that the promises they make to customers will be fulfilled. Because all details regarding the inventory, the product order and the customer are held on the one platform, agents have all the information they need to know whether a particular order can be delivered on time and in full. ERP takes the calculated guesswork out of order processing and shipping because it’s all being managed from, and is completely visible within, the one system.
Increased Price Competitiveness
In any market bulging with competition, and in an age where comparing prices requires nothing more complicated than a basic Google search, it can be easy for a business to price itself out of the market. Customers love lower-than-average prices, and ERP can help deliver that.
Through the effective management of inventory and work scheduling, and via reduced business administration costs and streamlined operations, and ERP system makes it less costly to manufacture and distribute products. These reduced costs can, of course, be passed onto customers, leading to larger volume sales, increased margins and improved customer loyalty.
The more people and processes that are involved in servicing a customer, the greater the chance that mistakes will be made, resulting in unsatisfied customers. Relying on outdated, disparate systems to manage these processes is not the way to go. Manually entering data across multiple systems – such as accounting, inventory, and CRM – is a recipe for failure, and in this day and age it’s something that’s entirely avoidable.
Fewer data entry points mean fewer opportunities for costly errors. An ERP system will streamline the workflow of order processing management, eliminating the duplication of data entry by providing workflows that automatically update data without the need for further human intervention. Simply enter data and let the ERP system share that information with all relevant business units.
Data entry errors can also prove quite costly when it comes to analysing, forecasting and reporting. If bad data gets fed into the system, analyses based on that data will contain mistakes. When deciding whether to build the new warehouse, introduce a new category of inventory or drop a product line, you want the information on which you’re basing your decision to be as accurate as possible. Human errors in data entry increase the chances that important business decisions will be driven by flawed reasoning, and that’s something no business can afford.
On those occasions where a data entry error is identified, remedying the problem is far easier when there’s only one system in play. When you rely on an ERP solution, you eliminate the need to open multiple applications to correct the error; you simply make the amendment once within a single source.
There’s also the time-saving aspect. Re-keying data is a drain on human resources because that time could be better spent doing something else. Workers need to be making the best use of their time, at all times, and that can’t happen when data is being re-entered unnecessarily. This leaves more funds and time to invest in your customers rather than the continual re-entry of information.
The final word
More and more businesses in the distribution and supply chain management sectors are deploying ERP not only with their business operations top-of-mind, but their customers as well. Today’s customers have many options to choose from, and they can easily move from one product or service provider to another when they’re less than satisfied.
As the famed US entrepreneur Mark Cuban once said…
“Make your product easier to buy than your competition,
or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.”
Used to its full potential, a high-performing ERP solution will make it easier for your customers to buy from you over and over again. If you want more tips on how to improve customer service and retain your customers, read this article.