Get on the same page, give better service

In today’s frenetic, fast-paced and highly competitive business environment, customer service excellence has become the lifeblood of any business.

February 3, 2011

In today’s frenetic, fast-paced and highly competitive business environment, customer service excellence has become the lifeblood of any business. Where companies once could keep their customers loyal with a year-end thank you gift and remembering the names of their children, customer service excellence today is something quite different.

“It’s about acting quickly and precisely to customer requirements. Customers don’t want to have to answer reams of questions every time they call in, and they expect answers to their queries and resolutions to their complaints with almost real-time immediacy. They expect the people they deal with to be knowledgeable and they don’t want to have explain repeatedly how they want things done. A mistake or late delivery on more than two occasions could mean the end of the relationship. If you can’t provide good service, someone else will.

“Keeping customers happy and customer churn to a minimum has a lot to do with having everyone in your business on the same page, the page whereon all the intelligence on a customer is housed. But, with the high volumes of information and transactions that take place between the different departments within your business and your customers on a monthly basis, having everyone on the same page can be a pipedream. There has to be someone or something that pulls it all together and keeps things running like a fine-tuned machine. Usually, it comes down to leveraging technology,” says Martin Robinson, sales manager at Bluekey Software Solutions.

He says an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system like SAP Business One can provide companies with that clichéd “same page” that everyone should be on; delivering one source of the truth and a standardised, efficient system for bringing together and managing all aspects of a business.

“With a business management tool like SAP Business One, workflow procedures are optimised and entrenched, and information is on hand and easily obtainable. More importantly, this information is accurate. There is no need to capture and recapture information from one document to the next and due to the fact that the use of spreadsheets is minimised, almost every single piece of valuable customer information is contained on a single database.

“With business rules set and prevention mechanisms in place, employees are alerted when an exception is about to occur, lessening the chances of a mistake that could cost the business money, or a valued customer. One of our clients in the manufacturing industry recently averted an expensive R75 000 mistake from happening thanks to SAP Business One’s approvals and alerting functionality,” says Robinson.

Aside from streamlining, standardising and optimising the way a business runs and deals with it’s customers, which has obvious positive implications in terms of a company’s ability to provide excellent service, SAP Business One empowers customer-facing employees to provide a value-adding, knowledgeable service.

“The system provides for better stock management and demand forecasting which ensure that there’s always sufficient stock in hand to meet customer demand. If there isn’t, there’s no way that a product that is out of stock can be ordered and promised for delivery to a customer.

“Using mobile devices, sales reps in the field can connect to the system and take immediate action on a client request, whether it’s taking an order, checking stock levels and prices or obtaining invoice and statement information.

“What this means is that employees are equipped with up-to-date, accurate information at all times, allowing them to act, and service their clients, in an educated, intelligent and timeous fashion. Customers don’t have to wait until the representative is back in the office or back from holiday to have their needs seen to,” he says.

“With technology like this in place, your employees will have more time think about those old fashioned gestures like remembering their client’s birthdays, something that might be totally superfluous if your company was failing on other more important aspects of customer service,” quips Robinson.