There are multiple points throughout the supply chain where a company reaches a customer – for example, taking an order, sending out an invoice, confirming an order, receiving payment or settling a dispute – and each point represents an opportunity to create a positive, easy and impactful experience for the customer. In a constantly-changing, highly competitive market like semiconductors, which is undergoing consolidation and facing emerging trends like the Internet of Things (IoT) and digitization, such experiences are important to ensure the customer remains a customer and doesn’t go somewhere else.
Companies are focusing on customer service, and for good reason. Customers are the lifeline of any business. In a recent survey, 75% of companies said their top objective was improving the customer experience, and another study found that by 2020, customer experience will overtake pricing and products as a company’s key differentiator. In addition, there is a $3 return on every $1 invested in the customer experience, and a top cause of customer frustration is feeling undervalued.
Organizations have spent millions over the years on technology to improve their business operations, from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and CRM, to cloud-based applications like Salesforce.com. However, for many, the business document processes – such as accounts payable, invoicing and sales order processing – have remained a heavily manual operation. That has caused more than its share of challenges. It’s slow, the risk of missed or backlogged orders increases, it’s more error-prone, and orders and product returns are more difficult to track. In such a fast-moving market, these issues can mean lost business.
None of that helps an organization’s relationship with their customers, but the impact goes further. Customer service representatives (CSRs) are the frontline people, the company’s face when dealing with customers and supply chain partners, but in a manual document processing environment, too much of their time is spent with data entry and similar tasks, and when an issue with a customer arises, they don’t always have the information they need to properly address it. This can make a customer feel undervalued and underappreciated.
Automating the business document processes can change all of those inefficiencies, enabling CSRs to do their primary jobs: taking care of the customer. There are numerous direct benefits to using software to automate the document-heavy workloads that are pervasive in business, including lowering the overall cost of order processing, improving order data accuracy, accelerating the process and reducing the number of people needed to get the myriad tasks done.
There also are a slew of indirect benefits, many of which will be felt by the customer. Key among those is enabling CSRs to spend more time on impactful activities like proactively interacting with customers, tracking orders, spotting problems, and cross-selling and upselling, and less time doing data entry and fielding calls about incorrect orders or other problems. Automation software also gives customers more ways to communicate with a CSR, including through a chat tool on an online customer portal that also helps reduce the number of requests coming into the customer service department.
CSRs are more professionally fulfilled and incentivized. The tools available in the in the automation software, such as a dashboard interface that enables them to track orders and address issues before they become problems and gives them the control they need to take care of customers. In addition, managers can more easily push resources to where they are needed most, and key performance indicators (KPIs) allow managers see where credit is due.
CSRs are a crucial yet often underappreciated part of a company’s overall operations. They are often in direct contact with customers and can make or break the experience for those customers. The more time they have to spend on mundane manual tasks like data entry, the less they have to be proactively working with customers, tracking orders, solving problems and upselling. Automating the business document processes can let these people do the job of taking care of customers, which can only benefit the company.