Order Verification: A Strategic Imperative

Order management is a complex process, which has a major impact on customer perceptions. Today’s brands must embrace automated order management capabilities to receive customer orders. However, to be a true service leader, you must move beyond generic order collection solutions to implement technologies to support customer order verification and confirmation steps. With these tools, you can catch order errors before bad order data feeds downstream billing and inventory systems—and before the wrong product or service is delivered to your end customer.

No doubt about it: in today’s hyper-competitive, customer-centric world, rock-solid order management is essential for success. Read on to learn about what separates today’s order management leaders from followers, get insights on essential features of next-generation ordering solutions, and understand how order verification can promote customer happiness.

Improving the Order-to-Cash Cycle

According to analyst firm, The Aberdeen Group, streamlining the “Order-to-Cash” (OTC) cycle is an important operational goal. If upfront order management is faulty, the impacts on the other steps in the OTC cycle—which include order fulfillment, payments/collection, and account reconciliation—are far reaching. By contrast, a solid order management approach allows brands to deliver products and services more quickly and fortifies customer relationships.

In their 2012 OTC Study, Aberdeen assessed self-reported order management performance across a range of brands. They grouped respondents into two categories: “Leaders,” or the top 30% based on performance and “Followers,” or the remaining 70%. Aberdeen’s research points out several key differences between these two groupings:

  • Order Exception Processing: On average Leaders report that 11.7% of their orders require some form of manual intervention to complete processing. For followers, this number jumps to 30.1%.
  • Order Exception Visibility: Sixty-eight percent (68%) of leaders have tools, which provide them real-time insight into order exceptions via problem type, customer, and other factors. Just 21% of Followers possess this capability.
  • Automated Order Workflows: Leaders are 39% more likely to have automated order workflows than followers. In addition, 63% of organizations still convert quotes to orders manually.

Together, these findings reveal that brands have significant opportunities to upgrade their order management capabilities. If you are still heavily reliant on manual intervention for order verification, you are not alone—but you have essential work to do.

Elements of Leading Order Management Solutions

According to research firm, Forrester, effective order management is fast becoming a strategic imperative to support today’s agile commerce expectations. Increasing globalization and customer expectations means that businesses of all sizes need multiple ordering channels and fulfillment centers. Forrester analyst Brian Walker detailed five essential capabilities of next-generation order management solutions:

  • Multiple Touch Points: Many companies take orders via the Internet. However, today’s brands must contend with an ever-widening array of ordering venues, including: smartphones, mobile apps, contact centers, mobile point-of-sale (POS) solutions, self-service kiosks, and more. Companies must have technologies to create a single order pipeline—and to evaluate the validity of customer orders—from data drawn from several channels.
  • Multiple Fulfillment Centers: Gone are the days of a single fulfillment node to handle all incoming customer orders. Smart brands need multiple sources for order fulfillment, including drop-shippers and stores. This reality underscores the need for accurate data for each order to keep the complex web of fulfillment sources operating effectively.
  • Inventory Visibility: Today’s tech-savvy customers often seek insight into product availability when placing orders. As a result, brands should look to make their inventories transparent to give customer the option of seeking out a product via a store or other location or choosing delivery.
  • Multiple Payment Options: As business globalizes, brands must accept multiple payment types and currencies.
  • Customer Self-Service: Order-related contacts are some of the most common types of customer communication. With the right technologies, brands can empower customers to place, track, edit, and cancel orders without any direct intervention by a customer service representative. This boosts customer satisfaction and facilitates greater contact center efficiency.

In addition, service leaders are not only letting customers place and manage orders, but also using technology for order verifications and confirmations. Today’s leaders employ tools to identify potential discrepancies in customer orders—such as a product number that does not synchronize to a product price—to trigger order verification routines.

Post-order outreach to a customer to validate their intent can prevent personal follow-up by your customer-facing employees. Moreover, this approach catches order errors before they spread into your downstream systems and create more complicated issues with billing, inventory, and other operational solutions.

Proactive Order Verification is an Essential to Customer Happiness

Today’s customers have high service expectations—and are apt to switch brand loyalty if those expectations go unmet. When customers place orders, they expect that they will get what they want in a timely and efficient way. A misstep in the process—even when due to a customer mistake—can lead to intense customer frustrations, abandoned transactions, and lingering negative sentiment.

By using today’s advanced contact management solutions to upgrade order verification processes, brands can mitigate these issues. Effective order verifications can help companies retain customers and contain costs stemming from manual follow-up and corrections to ordering and other downstream solutions.

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Engage with Us

If you have insights or questions on order verification, please share your thoughts in the space below:

  • How have multichannel communications affected your ordering processes?
  • Are you seeing heightened customer demands for more streamlined ordering and fulfillment?
  • What steps have you taken to implement next-generation order management and verification capabilities in your operations?

We look forward to engaging with you on this important topic.

What Makes Customers Happy?

Retaining Customers in Today’s “Switching Economy”

Recent consumer research from Accenture revealed that customers are increasingly frustrated by the perceived poor levels of service they receive.

In 2013, the consulting firm’s annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey revealed that 51 percent of U.S. consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences. That number jumped 5 percent from 2012. These compelling numbers motivated Accenture to label the current consumer environment “The Switching Economy.”

This research study affirmed that B2C companies must take action to improve customer experiences and stop churn—right now. Many consumer brands have taken a good first step and implemented post-interaction surveys. However, to maximize the value of these surveys, brands must accelerate analysis and have routines in place to respond to dips in customer satisfaction as soon as they occur.

Six Things that Make Customers Unhappy

As the Accenture study reports, there are several things, which consistently upset customers and trigger defections. Specifically, consumers get frustrated by:

  1. Contacting a company multiple times to address the same issue (91%)
  2. Being put on hold for lengthy periods (90%)
  3. Needing to repeat their questions or concerns to more than one representative (89%)
  4. Perceiving that a company does not make it easy to do business with them (85%)
  5. Noticing a difference between a company’s marketing promises and delivered products, services, or experiences (84%)
  6. Having inconsistent experiences across various channels (58%)

Moreover, 81 percent of respondents did report that companies could have done something different to retain their loyalty. Understanding these unwelcome behaviors and taking steps to remedy them can put you on a good path to improving customer experiences and keeping customers loyal.

However, best-in-class service providers know that customer satisfaction trends are in constant flux. You also need to survey customers regularly and act on their responses to keep tabs on the current state of the customer experiences your brand is delivering. Post-interaction surveys are the path to deeper insight.

Customer Surveys: Beyond the Fabled NPS Score

In recent years, the “Net Promoter Score,” widely known as NPS, has earned widespread hype as the ultimate customer satisfaction metric. NPS asks respondents use a one to 10 scale to answer a single question: “”How likely is it that you will recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”

However, analyst firm, Forrester has noted that there are several issues with relying on NPS alone:

  • Cultural Variances: The use of a one to 10 scale does not translate across all cultures. This makes NPS scoring less valid for firms with international or diverse customer bases.
  • Limited Motivator: Companies may find it challenging to motivate employees to raise NPS scores.
  • Questionable Correlation: Although NPS is supposed to tie to customer referrals or renewals, limited quantitative evidence exists to support this fact.

Despite its shortcomings, NPS can be a valid customer satisfaction measure, when coupled with other customer feedback. Forrester recommends adding Voice of the Customer (VoC) sentiment input to NPS data collection for robust, actionable insights into customers’ perceptions.

Adding Open-Ended Feedback for Honest Customer Insights

Today’s customer experience leaders know that quantitative surveys and metrics are just one source of information about customers. To understand customer’s true feeling about your business, you need to use open-ended sentiment survey questions to solicit high-value VoC feedback. With open-ended questions, you gain customers spoken-word perceptions, which give you context beyond customer satisfaction statistics.

However, you need to recognize the immense worth of customer’s open-ended comments. While some companies rely on computer-based analysis to review customer comments, this approach is shortsighted. Machine-based solutions can only analyze the words your customers speak—but leave a wealth of information unevaluated.

Speech analysis experts know you need to study communication nuances—including tone, word choice, volume, inflections, and more—to gain complete understanding of customers’ true sentiment. Sometimes, you may find that customers who speak affirming words about your company may be harboring hidden negative sentiment. The only way to uncover customers’ true feelings is through human sentiment that goes beyond machine-based survey evaluations.

Achieving Coordinated Following Up

As Accenture’s research proves, having a bad experience can prompt your customers to defect to competitors. Today, however, customers are also likely to share their perceptions on social media—and take their bad feelings public. In fact, consumer research revealed that 95 percent of customers who have had a poor experience tell someone about it, and are 45 percent share negative customer experiences on social media.

What does that mean? You need to move beyond aggregate reviews of NPS data and institute real-time reviews of post-interaction survey data. You also need plans and resources for coordinated follow up with unhappy customers before they defect or spread the word about their poor perceptions on social networks.

As a result, you need a centralized system that provides up-to-date statuses on all customer contacts to front-line employees across the enterprise. With the right tools, you can address customer questions and issues promptly and tackle some of the six things that often prompt customer concerns.

Scoring a “Thumbs Up” from Your Customers

In today’s customer-driven world, listening to customers and taking proactive steps to address customer feedback is an imperative. Focusing on customer satisfaction can help retain customers and solidify your revenues.

Those who don’t are primed to lose—and lose big. Accenture estimates that a potential $1.3 billion dollars in revenue will be in play due to customer’s shifting loyalties.

The time to implement tools and processes to capture, analyze, and act on customer feedback is now. You need to move beyond the comfort zone of periodic review of aggregate customer satisfaction scores and jump into the new world of real-time customer survey analysis.

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Engage with Us

If you are a service provider, we would love to learn more about your real-world experiences:

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges to keeping customers loyal in today’s switching economy?
  • How has your company’s approach to customer survey dissemination and analysis changed?
  • What are you doing to protect your brand in the era of the social customer?

We look forward to hearing from you.