Are you asking customers to do business with you based on processes defined by your systems rather than the way they want to do business with you? If so, what is this costing you in revenue? As the economy improves, the top priority of many organizations will be improving the customer experience to win new customers and enhance existing relationships. The main thing people will remember about your company is how easy you are to do business with. Having the right solutions in place will allow your company to differentiate itself in the marketplace.
Customers are demanding more choice in products, how they purchase those products and how their orders are fulfilled. If your order management systems cannot adapt to these customer-driven changes, you risk losing the brand loyalty that has taken so long for you to establish. Having customers define the way they interact and conduct business with your company is an entirely different business paradigm – a customer-centric paradigm.
Many companies have resorted to implementing manual internal processes to meet customer requirements because they lack the systems to automate their order lifecycle. For instance, a company with multiple divisions will often take an order and then manually split the order and send the segmented orders to appropriate divisions for fulfillment and invoicing. Or worse, they make the customer place multiple orders, one with each division. This stop-gap approach does not scale, increases the time to fulfill the order and introduces the likelihood of errors. It prevents the customer from seeing complete order information via the website and forces them to interact with multiple CSRs and/or web portals in order to conduct business with the company. The alternative is to have the customer call into one location and have the CSR use multiple systems to check availability, place orders, check status, and initiate returns, and manually provide a consolidated view to the customer. This is costly for the company and offers a poor customer experience.
So, you must ask yourself, is it difficult to make changes to your current business processes in order to support your ever-changing customer demands? How easy is it to find the status of a complex order for your customer? How easy is it to add additional participants and/or steps in the fulfillment process without having to make code changes? Most systems lack the flexibility to support these changes and need to evolve or be replaced with new systems that can provide the experience customers expect.
If your company needs to make this shift and gain additional flexibility, here are some of the attributes you should you look for in a solution:
- Extend across your total enterprise, and all of your enterprise applications, to aggregate/consolidate the information into a central repository for consistent promising, order status and alerts to your customer.
- Are intelligent enough to determine the optimal fulfillment option for each line on the order based on business rules that are important to the organization.
- Allow users to quickly configure business processes utilizing a graphical business process modeler that integrates event management.
- Can be implemented on-premise, or if IT resources are a concern, on-demand for fast implementations and quick ROI.
Are you losing revenue and disappointing your customers with a poor customer experience? Do you worry about your internal processes that are struggling to keep pace with orders and changing customer requirements? Then it’s time to take a transformational approach to order management, replacing inflexible systems with new agile, flexible solutions that will make it easy for customers to do business with you. The results will differentiate you in the market and will positively affect your brand loyalty.
Rod Martinez is part of the Products and Marketing organization at Sterling Commerce. He has spent over 18 years in various sales support and product and industry marketing roles with multiple software organizations. During his tenure with these software companies his focus has been on CRM, Order management, and Customer Support strategies.