Sales order processing isn’t limited to your internal procedures. In fact, it presents real costs to your customer acquisition, cash flow and the return on investment you ultimately realize from employees. Here’s a look at how sales order processing impacts your business and how sales order processing software could be a cost-effective solution to such challenges.
Eliminate costly errors. Manual data entry processes inherently introduce errors, no matter how well-trained or careful your team is to eliminate them. In fact, research at UNLV concluded that tactics such as visual comparison and reading data meant to spot errors will not eliminate them. Authors of the book Data Quality Management found at least a 3 percent error rate in manual data entry processes in a study that was dedicated to data quality. Though manual processing mistakes are accidental, they cost your business in a multitude of ways, including lack of efficiency and diminished customer satisfaction.
Sales order processing software eliminates the risk of error with automation. Whether you receive orders by paper, phone, fax or via multiple online channels, you have the peace of mind that customer orders are detected quickly and entered into your systems for the next phase of processing. Sales order processing software gives customers assurance that their order was received and is being fulfilled, with automatic order acknowledgement.
Empower customers to find the information they need. Customers have become so intolerant of service issues that Accenture experts say their lack of loyalty has created a “switch economy.” While 66 percent of the customers Accenture surveyed globally said they had taken their business from one company to a competitor as a result of poor service, 74 percent said that having to contact a company multiple times for information was the primary reason for their dissatisfaction. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said being placed on hold for a long time with a company’s customer service department was the second most important reason for their switch; 66 percent said having to repeat information multiple times to multiple employees of a company before getting an answer was another catalyst to taking their business elsewhere.
While respondents to an Oracle survey shared similar sentiments, 52 percent said issues could be resolved by having easy access to the information they need from a company. Sales order processing software equips a company of any size, industry or location to give customers such easy access to their order details on their terms, at any time — without requiring the business to absorb the costs and responsibility of a 24/7 customer contact center.
Streamline your fulfillment process. Business executives across industries called order management complexity the second biggest supply chain challenge (customer service challenges were ranked first), in a study by Oracle and Capgemini. As businesses are now expected to perform in omnichannel environments that simultaneously include order processing from brick-and-mortar locations, online sales in multiple environments and orders placed by phone, mail and email, order management, inventory tracking and fulfillment will only get more complicated. Sales order processing software centralizes the many moving pieces and parts that are pertinent to each customer, and each specific order he or she places. Sales order processing software gives all staff involved in order processing to view the status of an order in real time, along with any specific requirements the customer may have in terms of volume or bulk pricing, negotiated discounts or delivery instructions.
The availability of delivery and tracking information influences purchases. Despite the money you invest into marketing your products, analyzing competitive pricing while maintaining desired profit and working to provide positive customer experiences, shipping processes could ultimately determine whether customers buy now and/or in the future. Though you lose some degree of control when items leave your loading lock, customers hold you accountable for knowing where their order is and when it will reach them. Sales order processing software automates every phase of shipment and delivery tracking so staff and customers can access accurate tracking data. A study by MetaPack revealed that 82 percent of customers consider delivery and tracking information as very important factors in in their purchase decisions, and 85 percent of them prefer to use technology to do so.
Order management and fulfillment is increasingly demanding for businesses of all sizes due to increasing customer expectations, competition, and advancements in shipping and fulfillment technology. By investing in sales order processing software to eliminate process inefficiency and error, and to increase information transparency internally and for your customers, your business can streamline many critical pieces of the process — including service and sales to remain competitive.
By Steve Smith, U.S. Chief Operating Officer at Esker.