July 04, 2017
A company’s success begins and ends with its customers; the process of a prospect becoming a customer begins the moment they place an order with your organization, making it one of the key steps in the buyer’s journey.
With so much time and attention focused on digital transformation and the strategic imperative for better customer service, it’s time for companies to look at how sales order automation can transform the order to cash process from a back office cost center to one of the great overlooked opportunities to kick-start a digital process revolution.
In the order-to-cash process, customer order management is a key activity. An order accurately processed and within the promised time means a satisfied customer who will pay its invoice on time.
With that in mind, here are five tips to optimize order processing and begin a digital transformation journey that can extend to other processes and departments throughout your organization.
1. Simplify, track and measure
Customer orders can arrive from all sorts of channels, including email, telephone, Web site, Fax or EDI. The complex reality of customer orders makes it extremely difficult for many organizations to achieve a timely, comprehensive single view of their process. For example, a customer may call to inquire about the status of an order, or the Financial Director may want to know how many remaining orders are still to be processed by the end of the day. When orders buried in an email inbox, a mail in-tray waiting to be sorted or on a fax machine, achieving visibility and control and a timely fashion can be nearly impossible.
The lack of timely data and process workflow visibility affects customer satisfaction, restricts service productivity and, ultimately, impacts overall company performance. As Peter Drucker famously pointed out, you cannot manage what you don’t measure.
Faced with multiple channels for receiving orders, the first step to effective order taking is to consolidate all incoming documents and achieve full visibility to every received order, including its real-time status and overall history.
Business digitization solutions for sales orders like OrderAction from Artsyl Technologies convert scanned paper and digital documents and data from any channel into structured data that can be validated against ERP or CRM system data for accuracy. This automated intelligent capture process delivers more timely access to data, making it easier to track and manage orders every step of the way.
2. No Order Left Behind
Customer service and/or sales administration departments are often organized by geographical area, product line or market, particularly if it operates with a shared services center.
Often, one big potential bottleneck in the sales order process can be failing to send an order to the right person to process it. Routing orders from one department to another or from one site to another may lead to errors, losses, delays, and a total lack of visibility and traceability. These types of unproductive tasks often go unrecognized or ignored, even though they can be solved with easily with automation.
Using sales order automation applications like OrderAction, companies can apply business rules to the data they have extracted from sales order documents for routing freeing up time to better serve customers.
3. Automate and eliminate tasks that add little value
Entering order information into an ERP system is an inefficient process with very little added value—one that is also prone to costly errors. When it comes to sales orders, the smallest data entry error can have undesired consequences that negatively impact order cycle times and customer satisfaction.
Automating the process makes order entry secure and prevents errors by guiding the user with automatic input, performing real-time data consistency checks, supporting access to ERP resources and integrating with the ERP to manage alerts. Teams can focus on high value-added tasks to verify the accuracy of order data or more effectively manage their customer relationships.
4. Proactively communicate with customers
Time saved on entering customer data can be reallocated to more pro-active and value-added tasks like verifying the accuracy of a customer’s order and handling exceptions. This means communicating directly with the customer to clarify the order or to adjust it so it meets the actual need. Automating the process of handling customer orders increases a company’s ability to satisfy its customers and directly boosts sales.
5. Measure the results and continuously optimize the process
Automating any process is only the first step of improvement. Optimization comes by measuring results, analyzing them and developing and executing an ongoing action plan. By relying on sales order automation solutions that begin by intelligently extracting data from order documents, companies can translate their documents into data and that date into insights about their processes and their performance.
This approach can become the first step in an ongoing process improvement cycle that can begin with sales orders and extend to other processes and departments within an organization.