Today’s business demands much more than just the right product, as buying experience and post-sale service matters a lot these days. In order to survive in the cut-throat competitive scenario, the manufacturers are explicitly focusing on enhancing the experience of their customers. Because one thing is for sure- only a pleasant experience brings the customer back to you. There are a number of factors that account for exceptional modern-day customer experience, such as ease of finding the right product from your catalogue, sufficient product information to judge need-fulfillment, easy add-to-cart process with quick billing that allows multiple payment modes, attractive and hygienic packaging with ensured quality standards, transparent shipping terms, real-time order status notification, timely product delivery, and prompt after sales service. And to win over your clients and lay a strong customer base, the process manufacturers have to follow all the above good customer experience practices.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution proves to be one tool for a total resolution of customer-experience related challenges faced by most of the manufacturers. Be it about maintaining quality standards, multiple packaging options or about order status tracking from order placement up to delivery, ERP’s super-functional modules are capable of doing everything a customer expects. Read ahead, to know how an ERP actually contributes in enhancing modern-day customer experience.
1 Access Real-time Client Information- Fully integrated ERP software bring silos of data from front office, back office, and other intermediate departments to one common platform for all-time access by anyone who needs it. Great customer service experience largely depends upon the ability to fish out accurate customer order information quickly so that there is prompt response to client questions, doubts, and requests. This is made possible only by having a single source of truth dug out of a single database for information by interconnecting different departments and internal processes at a common storage point. ERP provides the ability to track and evaluate customer buying histories, behaviours and preferences; thus lets you manufacture what’s trending in the market.
2 Inventory Management & Resource Planning- In order to ensure timely deliveries and best quality products reaching customer’s door step, efficient management of resources from beginning to end is very important. From raw material procurement to getting the most-skilled labour to work, everything depends on proficient resource planning. ERP assists a process manufacturer in all this by timely prompting for raw material purchase as soon as a new sales order makes an entry into the system. From planning the production schedule to the desired packaging and time of delivery, all is regulated by an ERP solution so that you don’t have to present a sorry figure in front of your most-valued client.
3 Convenient Integration with your Online Store- Don’t let your online portal drive your customers to competitors because of its tardy and difficult-to-operate interface. With ERP-integrated web store systems by your side, there will be no room for a frustrating user experience and missed revenue opportunities. The much-needed information transparency introduced by such integration always results into customer delight. The ERP-integrated systems and their easy-to-use interfaces allow manufacturers to fetch the latest product information, inventory availability details, and order tracking details. This level of transparency with customers takes their level of satisfaction a notch further.
4 Tighter Control over Supply Chain- In order to meet customer needs in a timely fashion, bird’s eye view is necessary to track materials right from procurement to production and finally up to delivery. ERP lets you perform all manufacturing operations just in time, like as soon as an order is placed, raw materials will be ordered to the respective vendor, process cell will be assigned for production and packaging material will be ready well in advance to ensure that goods leave the warehouse in time to reach the ultimate customer. The out-of-the-box functionalities of an ERP system allow owners to have complete visibility in the supply chain, so that stale raw material or products of compromising quality can be traced easily for recalling. With tight control by ERP over the entire supply chain, the efficiency and customer satisfaction is greatly enhanced, as costly delays and wastage is prevented to a great extent; ultimately resulting into customer delight.
5 Easy Invoicing and Rewarding Over-the-Counter Experience- The most frustrating part for any customer is to wait in endless queues for billing and checkout. Make the most of ERP’s ‘Point-of-Sale’ module to bring a smile to your customer’s face. The barcode scanner makes product entry and invoicing possible in just a blink-of-an-eye so that your customers don’t have to wait unnecessarily. Moreover, when you offer multiple payment options, like cash, card, online transfer, e-wallet or cheque, the customer feels relaxed and comfortable to be associated with you in the long term. Also, ERP helps to check inventory availability and maintaining threshold inventory levels; thus avoiding scarcity of products. ERP also aids in analyzing buying trends of customers and proves to be a helping hand in driving promotional offers and schemes.
6 Provision for Customer Complaints & Feedbacks- The saying ‘Feedbacks are the clues to open closed doors’ holds true in every sense. ERP’s Customer Relationship Module (CRM) helps you keep a track of service requests with its status, communication history with customers and their feedbacks. It enables you to keep a record of past customer experiences so that you can constantly improve and evolve in the journey to become better than the rest. Customer complaints are maintained with their solutions, thus maintaining a knowledge base and easing in solving similar critical customer situations in the future. When you know your pitfalls and the areas of customer dissatisfactions, it becomes much easier to work on them and emerge as a winner of fierce market competition.
7 Customer Portal-Most ERPs have the provision of customer portals; customers own space in the system, where they can create their account, make orders and track their status. Such portals give their customers access to the corresponding information like product brochures, their credit balance and reward points. The customers can directly login anytime and check the status of their orders, and whether the production SOPs are being followed or not, and what’s the results of the QC tests applied on their ordered products. In case of third party or contract manufacturing, even inventory levels can be checked so as to avoid situation of inventory crisis. This way, customers get what they want and exactly when they want it without having to make multiple calls, and send innumerable emails to the customer care.
8 Sample Management-With the help of a dedicated sample management, interaction with customers, goes to just another level. Customer’s requirements can be laid out clearly, samples can be created easily, and sent to customers for approvals/rejection on time. Accordingly, re-production with guided suggestions can be carried out for obtaining exactly the desired products by the customer. Not only this, but the entire trail of changes and modifications can be documented in the system plus the costs involved can be calculated, enabling better responsiveness to customer needs and delivering an enhanced customer experience to them.
9 Managing Demand and Supply-ERP’s Planning modules perform efficient planning by considering all resources perfectly. They strike a balance between supply and demand so as to keep away chances of scarcity and maintain optimum levels of finished goods in case of any last minute orders. ERPs ensure that the customer orders are fulfilled every time; leaving no room for them to migrate to the competitors for fulfilling their needs.
Conclusion: When you wish to deliver the best customer experience, you have to make changes at the grass root level. ERP works at the foundation of any organization and reflects significant results for everyone to see. It starts building modern infrastructure around the customers and gives them a personalized, relevant and consistent experience across every channel of your business operations.
It might be possible that the upfront cost seems too much at the beginning, but consider it as a one-time investment to reap lifelong results. However, with the availability of cloud ERP or software-as-a-service (SaaS), the cost reduces to a great extent as Cloud ERP systems are less pricey than on premise solutions. It’s because the infrastructure cost is almost nil and monthly subscriptions are quite affordable.