As ecommerce grows and customer expectations keep increasing, including demands for intuitive merchandising and instant delivery, industry experts tell us that we can achieve Amazon-level service if we practice customer centricity. Many interpret customer centricity to mean that you should put the customer at the center of your business and provide amazing service.
Frankly, anyone can claim to do that. Even my plumber claims to provide amazing service; it’s painted on the side of his van.
What if I told you that customer centricity isn’t the same as customer service? It’s not even all about the customer – it’s about the customer record.
The Customer Record at the Center of Your Business
Whether you’re a locally-owned business or sell pallets of products to big-box stores, the ability to deliver great customer service starts with organizing around the customer record.
This customer record becomes your one-stop-shop. It’s the single source of truth that accurately gives you what you need to deliver today’s order and predict tomorrow’s inventory needs. With it, you can see both the big picture of inventory projections and every possible piece of information needed to fulfill and track individual orders. By giving your employees access to all this information using one central dashboard, they can make faster and more strategic decisions to meet your customers’ immediate needs.
Merchants can also take the information from customer records and use it to reveal purchasing trends that will help them anticipate customer needs and streamline operations. Imagine automating inventory management, or adding, editing, deleting and transferring inventory in real time. Or analytics and business intelligence software with real-time dashboards and reports. With the customer record as the director, these kinds of capabilities are possible.
An Example of the Customer Record in Action
Anyone who runs an ecommerce business knows that there are many moving parts to the fulfillment process. From routing and managing inventory to selecting the right packaging for shipping, each stage of the fulfillment workflow has very specific steps. It’s essentially a five-step process that includes receiving, inventory storage, order processing, shipping and returns processing.
When we become customer centric, the customer record coordinates all of these processes. They all align and gaps disappear because they’re all being directed by this single source of truth. So, the value of customer centricity really shows up operationally. It’s letting the customer record be the guide to join and streamline the processes. This is the core ingredient of Amazon’s success formula. It shows up as immediate delivery and intuitive product recommendations, but it begins with streamlined operations and keen business intelligence – both of which come directly from the customer record.
This alignment has a side benefit for merchants as well. With the customer record as the single source of truth, it eliminates dual data entry. Instead of entering an order at POS, fulfilling it through another system and then shipping it using a third system, companies can minimize gaps and mistakes by connecting everything to one customer record. This streamlining also ensures your data is accurate for billing, payments and returns. I am sure many of us can tell a story about a great ecommerce experience that was ruined by inaccuracies with billing or an onerous return process.
Capture Your Share
Ecommerce sales continue to trend upward, and the economy is still moving at a steady clip. These stats tell us that the ecommerce boom isn’t slowing down anytime soon. But to ensure you capture your share of this tsunami, you need a customer-centric approach that includes connected technologies and data to quickly and effectively drive decisions, keeping your brand ahead of the competition.
Dean Mansfield is the President and CEO of Systum