‘The customer is always right.’ It’s a cliché for a reason. Foreground your customers in everything you do – try to think in terms of their goals, needs, and expectations, always – or you risk building a business that pleases you and no one else.
Creating a positive, engaging customer experience, then, should be a key priority for all businesses. Of course, myriad different factors can play into this, and no two businesses will follow the same strategy. However, one tactic which will have a positive impact on customer experience across any customer-facing organisation is the integration of the customer relationship management (CRM) solution and the ERP system. Let’s look at some of the customer experience benefits this will foster.
Speedier sales and deliveries
Minimising the time between order placement and delivery of the goods is one of the simplest – yet most impactful – ways of improving your customer experience. Once your ERP and CRM systems are integrated, any order placed on the website will automatically create a sales entry in your ERP system, which then alerts and activates all relevant staff and processes – picking, packing, logistics and shipping. The upshot is not only a faster sales and delivery process but also a more accurate one, because there’s no manual copying over of data. Order will reach your customers faster, and with fewer mistakes.
Information at agents’ fingertips
Integration between your CRM and ERP systems means that customer-facing members of staff – whether in a contact centre or face-to-face – have instant access to a much greater array of information, such as real-time stock availability, order tracking, and product-specific information. They are therefore able to respond to customers’ queries more quickly and more accurately, making for more engaging and informative customer communications. Should something go wrong with an order, or should a customer wish to make an alteration, it is much easier for your staff to get to the bottom of the issue.
Cross-selling and up-selling
Clearly, these processes need to be carefully managed. No customer wants to feel bombarded with requests for them to spend more. But intelligently chosen cross-selling and up-selling suggestions, or special offers and discounts tailored to their previous buying habits can feel personal and compelling. Integration between CRM and ERP systems enables this, by consolidating all customer records and activities into a single database. Intelligent ERP systems can generate tangible insights from this kind of database, and make those insights available to staff in customer services, sales, accounting, marketing – every business function – and even your customers themselves. The result is a far more proactive and customer-centric approach to marketing, promotions and even product development.
As well as making the sales and shipping process faster, integration between CRM and ERP can speed up other business operations, such as billing and payments, production workflows and point-of-service interactions. You are better-placed to recognise bottlenecks and understand where process improvements can be made, as well as identifying where critical information can be made available to customers in useful ways.
Ultimately, an integration between your CRM and ERP systems will generate process efficiencies, greater visibility into for both your staff and your customers, and more personalisation and customisation for each individual customer. You will no longer work to ‘the customer is always right’, but ‘the individual customer is always right’.