ERP systems serve as the nerve center for business, sitting at the center of many silos of critical data and helping both managers and front-line employees make sense of the dynamics happening in and around their company.
One of these areas that is critical for understanding business dynamics is customer interaction. This encompasses sales and marketing, but also customer support. In a world where the competition often is only a few clicks away for a company’s customers, good customer service makes a huge difference.
Businesses that can harness their customer data effectively have a decisive advantage when it comes to meeting customer needs. And ERP plays a role in creating this advantage.
Here are five ways that ERP systems can improve customer service at your firm.
All businesses are about customers at their foundation, so fundamentally every part of a business comes back around to the customer either directly or indirectly. ERP systems, sitting at the center of a business, can therefore help provide a much more holistic, comprehensive view of the customer journey. And that helps with support.
“The beauty of modern ERP is that there can be valuable data gathered with every integrated transaction, and with modern analytics, this data can be readily used,
“From analysis of customer product and service fulfillment to supplier performance to invoicing and customer service, a holistic and complete ERP dataset can support understanding your customer’s perceptions of your value-add to their operations,
ERP is all about bringing together the data. So through multi-streams of data, an organization can proactively understand a customer’s issues for the optimal solution during support calls, according to Kevin Nicholas, vice president of global enterprise software product and marketing for ERP maker, Sage.
ERP also helps track how customer service is performing.
“You can’t improve what you can’t measure, so ERP analytics help track goals against key performance indicators,Looking at a 360-degree view with analytics in mind allows you to identify additional areas of improvement, hence improving customer satisfaction.”
Since ERP systems have the big picture, they can support upsell opportunities before, during and after customer service interactions through analytics and prompts to customer service reps. The reps don’t need to necessarily see the upsell opportunities, because the system can handle this opportunity discovery for them.
“Upsell and cross-sell opportunities can be identified and routed with an increase in customer propensity to buy and pipeline generation for marketing follow-up, all captured in one view at the customer level and in aggregate,” says Nicholas at Sage.
That can also feed budget and planning, he notes.
Operational intelligence is becoming a big thing in the ERP world. Real-time data, advanced analytics, better dashboarding and artificial intelligence are all coming together to make ERP systems a decision-making assistant, not just a system or record.
With improved operational intelligence and automation, businesses can iterate their customer service operations based on up-to-the-minute changes in customer interactions.
Quicker customer handling and routing and better service order management efficiency are just two areas where ERP systems can improve customer service business processes, according to Nicholas.
With the prevalence of mobile devices and online shopping, customers now often prefer handling their own customer service needs when possible.
This presents an opportunity for more efficient, cost-effective customer care through self-service portals and knowledge bases. But only if businesses have the infrastructure for it.
ERP can play an important role in building out these knowledge bases and delivering answers directly to customers without the need for live agent interactions; customers can pull data directly from the ERP system through interfaces as diverse as web pages, interactive voice response or even chat bots. If a customer wants order history, shipping information, production times or product specifications, for instance, ERP is well situated to deliver this information directly to customers without an intermediary.
This can play a huge role in better customer service and save a company money in the process.
ERP sits at the intersection of two trends: increased reliance on data-driven business processes and decision-making for faster adjustment and more efficient execution, and the need for better customer service above and beyond what was required even 10 years ago.
Customers are more demanding than ever, and ERP can help meet the needs of these demanding customers.
So while ERP is not the first thing that comes to mind when most of us think about customer service, it nonetheless has a central place in overall customer care.