CONTRIBUTION BY Patrizia Casoni – Marketing Executive at OmPrompt
Customer orders are the life-blood of any business. But they don’t just appear in your ERP system by magic. Someone has to put them in by hand, don’t they? Or perhaps not… This is the story of a day in the life of a customer service rep (CSR), the value they add to the customer experience, and what would happen to your order process if they disappeared.
What do customer service reps really do?
Imagine you were a customer on a site visit to one of your suppliers. Wouldn’t you like to see a busy team of people happily talking with customers over the phone, recommending products, and making helpful suggestions? I know I would. Instead, sadly, in many customer service departments you’re more likely to hear fingers incessantly tapping on computer keyboards and see banks of staff staring morosely at paperwork and computer screens.
Why are they spending (wasting?) so much time re-entering data?
In this day and age of space travel and driverless cars – I ask myself- is that necessary? Surely, most customer orders are being sent electronically?
Unfortunately, in reality, getting non-EDI orders like faxes, spreadsheets, emails, PDF files and email phone orders into your ERP system begins with manual intervention. But CSRs don’t just type in data, they also validate the information and translate order details into the company’s internal language (i.e. codes, names and reference numbers).
So what would happen if CSRs disappeared tomorrow?
If you’re relying too much on your CSRs to place orders I’ll tell you what would happen: chaos. The business would be unable to fulfill non-EDI orders, or check and validate EDI orders, and service levels would be seriously compromised. In the short term, business revenue would likely suffer.
Why? Because customers are often fickle, inconsistent or forgetful.
However, the individuals who look after your customers have an in-depth knowledge of their wants, quirks, and their order history. They know how things work in their own company, how long it takes for master data to be updated, what the limitations of their company’s processes and systems are. In short, they know what’s broken and how to work around it.
So should CSRs be re-entering data, or adding value?
We employ these important support staff because of their ability to keep customers happy and gain new customers. But we use them for low value, mundane tasks when, more often than not, they could be providing excellent customer service instead.
Here’s a different scenario…
If this could focus on adding value to your business instead, what would happen? CSRs could use their knowledge to help your customers, instead of processing paperwork. The result? Superior service, happy customers, increased word of mouth recommendations – possibly even an increase in your share of your customers’ wallet!
But that’s not the only reason they shouldn’t have to spend most of their time entering and validating orders. The real reason is human fatigue. When human beings have to carry out a boring, repetitive tasks day in, day out, for 8 hours a day they will inevitably lose concentration. No matter how good your people are or how many times they check your orders, eventually errors will be made!
Luckily, there is another way!
The truth is, manual intervention is not the only way to process orders. Automation can help streamline that paper workflow. Those customer quirks or anomalies can be formalised and saved forever in the form of business rules. And any order format can be translated into any other format required by your business.
Customer Automation Management frees customer service employees from the slavery of manual order processing, so that they can focus on managing the customer experience and turning customers into brand fans instead. Which, in turn, helps your business.