Category Archives: Sales Order Processing

Does Your Process Pass the Sniff Test?

Good order management goes a long way. But here’s the thing: It’s hard to know with certainty if your process is really best-in-class or bottom-of-the-barrel.

A little benchmarking makes a big difference.

Take our brief 10-question quiz to determine once and for all if your current order management process meet today’s standards for timeliness, efficiency, and cost.

Go on, see where you stand and comment or share your results!

[Infographic] A Brief History of Payment Methods

We are excited to share a blog post from SlimPay today. This post features an infographic on the history of payment methods that evolved alongside civilizations.

Are You Sabotaging Your Company’s Customer Service?

 

 

If there’s one business aspect that most organizations understand the importance of but don’t spend enough time improving, it’s customer service.

Since my first home-buying experience last year, I have experienced more poor customer service than I could have ever predicted. From smaller instances of companies not responding to requests for information to extremely frustrating occurrences of workers simply not showing when scheduled. Every time left me wondering “do they really not need the business?”

Many companies seem to believe that a single bad customer experience only impacts business with that company or person. Nothing could be further from the truth. The impact of poor customer service is like an iceberg in that it is far greater than what you see at first. Not only do unhappy customers end up going elsewhere with their business, but most report their mishaps to other potential customers — causing companies greater loss of potential revenue.

Biggest Customer Service Blunders

Taking a pro-active approach to customer service is the best way to ensure customer happiness and business prosperity. If your customer service department displays any of the following behaviors, it’s time to rethink the way you do business and the people you hire to communicate with customers.

  • Failure to follow up
    When a customer is waiting to hear back from you, don’t make them wait or contact you again to get the information they are looking for. Follow up early and often to remain in good standing with customers. They’ll appreciate the effort you are making to communicate with them.
  • Lack of flexibility
    You expect your customers to be understanding and flexible when something adverse happens on your side of business dealings, so you should be the same in your dealings with them. That’s not to say you should cater to outlandish needs, but being flexible shows that you value their business — an important component to great customer service.
  • Unfriendly communications
    One of the worst things a company can do when dealing with customers is to not be friendly. In a time where customer service experiences (both good and bad) quickly go viral, companies should know that the best thing they can do to improve customer service is to treat customers with kindness. There are a lot of other businesses they can choose to go to, so don’t think for a second that they won’t go elsewhere after even one poor experience.
  • “Don’t care” demeanor
    Going hand-in-hand with non-friendly communications is the “don’t care” demeanor. It’s human nature to want to feel accepted and valued — make sure your customers feel that way when working with them. Businesses like Zappos have this concept down-pat and, for that reason, receive huge amounts of one of the most trusted types of marketing: word of mouth. After all, in the words of Peter Shankman, “customer service isn’t about telling people how awesome you are, it’s about creating stories that do the talking for you.”

Don’t let poor customer service sink your company. Begin evaluating your customer service efforts and building a plan for improvement. And remember: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” (Bill Gates).

Customer Service Department Visibility & Metrics: Our Recent Live Q&A

 

Those of us at Esker continually aim to help others use document process automation and similar tools to make their businesses run more efficiently. We recently held a Live Question and Answer session that focused on your most craved questions regarding customer service department metrics and key performance indicators.

Bill Gessert, President of the International Customer Service Association (ICSA), joined us for this exclusive session. He has years of progressive responsibility within both the Association and Customer Experience industries. Bill also has expertise in business development, strategic planning and execution, customer experience, training and coaching.

Esker’s very own, Howie Hahn, also joined the session as he explained how tracking customer service performance can help you identify other downstream organizational impacts, such as the ability to scale and support business growth.

In our live session we pointed out three particular KPI’s to measure, and ones you’ve perhaps ignored too often.

Top Three KPI’s to Measure in Your Metrics

Key performance indicators tell you everything you need to know about what’s happening in your customer service department. Yet, with so many available, which ones should you pay attention to over others that look important?

Customer Satisfaction Score

This is one of the most important because it gives you a consolidated number telling you whether what you’re doing is truly working. It doesn’t involve just one source either and can range from a Net Promoter Score to group surveys.

In the case of the Net Promoter Score, you’re given a simple 1-10 score that determines how likely your customers are not only to remain loyal but how likely they are to give the ultimate gift of a referral. This ranges from detractors on the low end to promoters on the high end. However, we pondered whether it truly goes deep enough to analyze customer responses.

Gessert pointed out CSAT surveys, focus groups, and survey forms are worth trying in gaining a good idea of what customers want. Surveys are important to do immediately after a transaction. You still need to set a realistic time frame and clearly indicate how many questions you ask.

Setting and Adhering to a Service Level Agreement

With service level agreement metrics, you can determine a lot about how you’re living up to service contract promises. You’ll want to measure your average speed to answer customer requests, and how well you execute first calls and handling time.

Reading these metrics helps you analyze how well your staff performs in their customer service roles.

Availability Metrics

Another aspect discussed in the session was how available your customer service staff is. Here, you need to study the effort level in how your staff resolves customer problems. Studying this helps you examine how you can increase customer loyalty.

Using Customer Effort Scores was also discussed, and Gessert mentions companies need to respond to customers 85% of the time to retain loyalty.

Increasing Visibility

After a discussion on growth and how using metrics helps with future ROI, we went into discussing the visibility side of a business. To empower your employees, Gessert noted three things to uphold more visibility: Send out a newsletter from internal departments with success stories and other highlights; Award and reward your employees to entice them to keep their performance level up. Leveraging awards is a great sales tactic; Place your C-Suite in the role of a secret customer or shopper. They’ll know what day-to-day activities are like with your team.

We invite you to listen to our recorded version of our webinar to help you decide whether your metrics should become tactical or strategic.

Picking the Winning Bracket (and Automation Solution)!

basketball floor

It’s bracket time! Millions of people fill out brackets every year with the hopes of getting it right and winning big. Whether it’s for your local office or a national pool, the chance to win big money is too enticing to pass up. As I have been filling out brackets since the age of 6 years old,  I thought I would share the three factors that help me decide on who has the best chance of winning it all — and how to do the same when it comes to picking a winning automation solution for your business.

To start, here’s a little history. The first NCAA tournament was in 1939 and the Oregon Ducks ended up winning the championship. In those days, only eight teams made the big dance. Today, that number has ballooned to over 72 teams in 2017. That’s a lot of unknown factors to account for, leaving the chance of you perfectly predicting the bracket as 1 in 9.2 quintillions. Yup, that’s a real number.

So what factors do I follow to increase my chance of winning (and that companies can follow in their hunt for an automation solution)?

  1. The Point Guard: The most important position come tournament time. Why? Because point guards are the extension of your coach on the floor. They communicate what offense to run, control game tempo and are usually responsible for defended the other team’s point guard.Think of your customer service representatives (CSRs) as your organizational point people. Not only are they responsible for entering orders, CSRs answer customer questions, handle disputes and make sure customers are taken care of. They are an extension of your company’s values, philosophies, and strategies. According to Forrester Research, great work by CSRs (aka point guard play) can translate to over $80 million in additional revenue.
  1. The Coach: One of the most underrated aspects of picking a potential candidate for winning March Madness. Look for a coach with a history of creating a culture of winning. That kind of coach excels at recruiting talent and utilizing that talent to maximize the potential of not only each individual player but of the team as a whole.Organizations that are constantly looking at ways to improve business processes are creating a culture of winning — always improving and never content with last year’s successes. In order to achieve success, they must be willing to invest in their talent by giving them the coaching and tools to meet customer needs in a timely matter.
  1. Defense, Defense and More Defense. In today’s data-driven world, you can look at statistical splits (+/-) to try and predict how far they will go. Field goal percentages at the rim and the three-point line can all be used to forecast a team’s performance come tourney time. Taking a peek at advanced statistics can also reveal underlying issues that wouldn’t otherwise be noticeable.Visibility into how efficiently your company is processing orders and invoices allows organizations to take advantage of things like early payment discounts, and help the supply chain with demand planning and inventory thanks to the ability to monitor orders before they even hit the ERP system!

Having a winning bracket usually isn’t based on luck … I mean, there are some folks who guess correctly based on uniform color, mascot, or even who sponsors their shoes. Luck isn’t sustainable,  but your organization’s success is — especially once you’ve carefully evaluated your people, process, and technology. Esker can help your organization optimize its business functions with automation, just give us a shout here.

Esker Acquires e-integration GmbH, Strengthening Its EDI Position in Germany and Globally

Sydney, Australia March 14, 2017 Esker, Inc., a worldwide leader in document process automation solutions and pioneer in cloud computing, today announced it has finalised the acquisition of e-integration GmbH, the Düsseldorf, Germany-based electronic data interchange (EDI) service and solution provider. Esker’s intent to acquire the company was first announced in October 2016. 

 
Offering a suite of EDI services and solutions, e-integration covers a wide range of solutions for the automation of order management, e-invoicing, logistics, procurement and other business-critical processes. Its online platform currently connects more than 7,000 companies worldwide. The acquisition of e-integration will allow Esker to further grow and develop in Europe’s leading market, increase its revenue in the German market, and strengthen its German and global customer base with 600 new active accounts, comprised of mid-sized industrial companies.


Esker has also acquired a 20 percent share in e-integration’s PROmitea business, a cloud-based application, which will continue to be managed by its majority shareholder. PROmitea helps companies automate procurement, sourcing and supplier relationships.

 

When People, Process & Technology Align

Businessman holding in hand a global connection,communications concept

 

Customer service is the heart of any organization; happy customers mean brand loyalty, a healthy bottom line and a wide horizon for growth. Outstanding customer service requires successful alignment of three key components: people, process and technology (PPT).  The next three paragraphs describe each of these components, with some of the common challenges associated with each, and some suggestions about developing a comprehensive customer service program without breaking the budget.

People. Customer service is the ultimate people business. You need smart, articulate, flexible, creative people on your team, with a broad range of conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.  Unfortunately, many aspects of customer service are repetitive, time-consuming and boring. Without ways to utilize their most important talents, skilled customer service representatives (CSRs) often burn out and move on. Minimizing the amount of time spent doing routine tasks and maximizing the time spent helping customers will help you retain your best CSRs and attract the kind of new hires you need. In addition, you can learn a lot from your best CSRs about how to improve their job satisfaction.  Treating them as the experts in their field–which they are–can open new insights into streamlining their workflows and making the best use of their talents.

Process.  If it’s hard to keep your top CSRs because of the high number of routine, repetitive tasks, it’s time to look at your customer service process.  How do your CSRs document their calls? How do they identify problems, take orders, troubleshoot product malfunctions and resolve disputes? Are these procedures fast, efficient and easy to remember? Could they be automated to save time and reduce errors? Are CSRs involved in designing and implementing new procedures? If CSRs are the actors in your customer service theater, the process is the play they’re performing. It needs to highlight their talents, shore up their weaknesses and bring out the best they have to offer.  Pairing top-notch CSRs with effective, service-focused processes will make your customers applaud!

Technology.  Technology, from the pencil to the tablet computer, is the bedrock of your customer service toolkit.  In the theater analogy, technology is the stage, supporting both the actors and the script. You want it to be simple, intuitive and reliable. Your CSRs want it to be efficient and accurate so they can spend their time helping customers instead of struggling with technical glitches.  Your customers want it to be tailored to their needs so that their calls go quickly and smoothly. As technology advances, new tools are available to support every aspect of customer service, from language translation to order entry to quality reporting. With the right array of tools, your CSRs will feel empowered to do what they do best–make your customers happy,

Customer service teams are often underfunded, which makes it difficult to implement large-scale improvements. By breaking down your operation into the three components of PPT, however, you can identify changes that are moderate in cost but have a big impact on your team’s performance.  A third-party vendor may be able to help you prioritize your needs and help you visualize the solutions you need.  Manual processes that your CSRs find tedious or vulnerable to error may be streamlined into automated, paperless versions that in turn yield detailed reports. Decreased time spent in documentation will free up your CSRs to focus on your customers–and significantly reduce your call wait times.

If you are looking for ways to improve your customer service performance, download this detailed white paper to see how a comprehensive PPT approach may fit your needs.

Meet Lisa – Customer Service Representative | Esker Order Processing

 

Lisa has a great deal of responsibilities as a customer service rep – she juggles many tasks all while managing the growing and demanding needs of her customers. Yet she still spends hours manually entering orders. These days customers expect more and CSRs should be free to focus on what’s most important – customer service.

 

Meet James – Supply Chain Leader | Esker Order Processing

 

Most supply chain leaders like James are struggling with ways to improve organizational performance and overall customer experience. James understands the ability to process orders faster and more accurately directly effects supply chain.

Meet Susan – Life Science Industry Customer Service Representative | Esker Order Processing

 

Susan has her MBA and is a customer service representative in the Life Science industry. She faces unique challenges in this industry and recognizes the importance of accuracy in her position. But she is frustrated most of her time is spent manually entering sales orders.

Learn More:

http://www.esker.com.au/solutions/sales_order_processing/