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.
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.