Monday, February 24, 2014

Customer Commitment

Customer commitment is often associated with customer service and vice versa.  Whatever business service or product your company provides, whatever product or service your company purchases, customer service and the relationships surrounding those offerings are paramount to success. 


How do you like to be treated?  Many organizations make statements on their web sites and brochures about customer service being their priority.  They most certainly expect equal or better service on their purchases.  But, how well do they actually deliver? 


Does your organization give as well as it gets?


Customers and those serving them need access to accurate real-time information.

Product and stock status availability.

Delivery time frames.

Invoice status.

Sales history.

Buying patterns.

Sales force automation toolset.

Contact Relationship Management (CRM) database.


In regards to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, what tools are in place to track and measure service levels?  Is your organization investing in your own infrastructure so that your staff will have the tools and resources necessary to answer customer inquiries and solve issues?


Are you getting the following from your ERP supplier?


Totally committed to your needs.

Providing the best possible support.

Maintaining technological superiority.

Will work to keep your company on the leading edge with the latest advancements.

Continue to offer real value, now and for the future.

Offer each client personalized, world-class service.


ERP solutions work when they are embraced and allowed to work. 


ERP software is organized into modules.  These modules are designed around departmental and/or functional company roles.  For example, Finance department consisting of General Ledger, Accounts Payable, and Accounts Receivable.  A functional role might include Procurement which overlaps Purchasing, Inventory, Warehouse Management and Sales Analysis.


All ERP application modules are designed to work together to enable better customer service.  Not all departments have direct customer contact, but all contribute to the overall operational efficiency of the organization. The customer service department and sales force are examples of two departments that do have direct customer contact and highlight the need for real time information.  Purchasing and procurement also have direct contact with the supply chain and also need quick access to accurate information.


ERP solutions work better when you trust them to do the jobs they are intended to do. 


Trouble can creep in a number of different ways, like when too many modifications are made.  Modifications can be an indication that the particular solution selected is not the right solution.  It does not mean that it is not a good solution, it just means that it is not a good fit for a particular business model.


Different business types need different solutions. 


Businesses need solutions that are tailored for their particular method of operation.  Just like automobiles, some need a fuel efficient model, some need luxury and comfort, while others need the ability to haul big loads.  They are all good vehicles, it is just each is designed and optimized for a different primary purpose. 


Whatever solution your company utilizes now or is considering, the one underlying principal that must be considered is how well will the solution enables your organization to deliver great customer service.  In what way will that improve with a replacement or upgrade?  A lot of effort goes into selecting and implementing a new solution.  Customer service and the tools associated with the collection, analysis and delivery of that information in a useful format must be first and foremost.


What changes are you considering?  What features and functions are important to your organization?  How are you preparing for change?  In what way do you measure improvement and success?


We would like you to share your thoughts and suggestions.  For additional help, contact Dolvin Consulting.  We team with industry experts to provide you with great customer service.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Warehouse Management

There is a difference between inventory control and a Warehouse Management System (WMS).  Inventory systems keep track of product information, locations, and quantities.  WMS systems keep track of the movement of inventory.  An inclusive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution incorporates both. 


ERP is designed to integrate the entire organization.   That is where the drive to efficiency is able to achieve its Return on Investment (ROI).  It is the way the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.  The brain of the system like the brain in your body is right in the middle, top front.  It collects and coordinates the information it receives from its various sources, analyzes that information and provides feedback. 


Warehouse management systems help in managing the supply chain and tracking the movement of inventory from receipt, put-away, movement and replenishment, to pick pack and ship operations and cycle and inventory counting.  Technology is the backbone that, when implemented with the right strategy, delivers the efficiency needed to compete and ultimately deliver better customer satisfaction.


Monitoring warehouse activity in real-time, minimizing entry errors through automation, collecting data to measure efficiency of operations and labor are important aspects of any WMS system.


In order to make intelligent decisions, management needs access to as real-time information as possible.  Too much happens too quickly to have to wait hours, days or weeks to get critical information and decipher that information.  ERP systems when properly implemented are able to furnish this information in a format that makes sense.  Managers need to know what their employees are doing, where there are bottlenecks and how to address those issues.


Some of the benefits of WMS systems include (in real-time):
  • Verifying receipts against purchase orders at the time of receipt. 
  • Verifying picked items and quantities against customer orders before shipment.
  • Keeping track of batches, lots and serial numbers. 
  • Bar-coded inventory. 
  • Tracking inventory by the piece, case or pallet. 
  • Measuring employee productivity.
  • Optimizing picking for single or multiple orders.
  • Integration with common carrier systems to capture box information and tracking numbers.
  • Customer returns tracking.
  • Work-in-progress tracking.
  • Production posting.
  • Replenishment activities.
  • Count-back verification.

WMS information can be used to properly organize the physical locations and pick order to increase employee productivity and accuracy.


More efficiency opportunities. 


More accuracy opportunities.


At first glance it might seem that implementing a WMS system would be too complicated for your workforce and if it could be implemented, the processing would slow down.  Do not underestimate your workforce when you enable them with the proper tools to get their jobs done.


For example, count back systems generate confidence in picking operations, because workers learn that they can trust the system to identify where the inventory is located and that the right quantities exist.  They learn the system recommends the right product placement so the do not have to waste time going back and forth to pick orders.  Compare that with an order that was picked and shipped incorrectly.  What happens to customer confidence in your operations?  How will management look at employee productivity?  What costs are incurred by the customer service and finance department, because they have to take care of upset or disappointed customers?  How much time does it take away from their other tasks? How much time does it take to create the return authorization, process the credit, create a new priority replacement order and absorb the associated and expedited return and replacement shipping costs?


Greater, more accurate throughput, inventory turns and employee productivity.


How is your organization taking advantage of WMS?  What efficiencies did you discover that you did not realize that you would have before implementing your WMS solution?  What solution works for your environment?   Is it a separate system or a fully integrated solution?


Contact us today to share your knowledge.  Your fellow readers would like to know.  We are here to help.  Dolvin Consulting works with industry leaders to help you help your organization with knowledge and industry resources.


Monday, February 10, 2014

ERP Help for Customer Service

Sales Force automation provides an Enterprise wide information solution that connects and integrates sales process with other business operations.


 Ideal for organizations that have questions or concerns with:

·         Their level of confidence on lead follow up?

·         Happy with their level of customer support?

·         Having the right information to sell your products?


Typical and necessary components of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system include the ability for sales reps and management to track and record all customer transactions from start to finish and then follow through on them.  Periodic review of current leads, conversion of leads to prospects, and then prospects to customers.  Management of contacts and account opportunities by tracking every interaction with all accounts, logging calls, creating to-dos, follow-ups, and adding status notes.


Sales Force automation software helps to drives new business by helping your sales team make the most of their sales calls.  A solution that provides real-time access to customer, prospect, and inventory information to streamline the sales process, help you increase sales, and build stronger, long-lasting relationships.


Real time access to customer and product information anytime, anywhere.  Search products, check availability and pricing, related products and current promotions.  Enter quotes and orders, provide valuable customer feedback. 


Including an Analytics solution increases awareness of customer trends and needs which allows faster response to customer issues and opportunities.


It is all about your relationships and having a CRM and Analytics solution fully integrated with your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is the next generation solution and often missed component in delivering great customer service. 


There are many stand alone solutions and sometimes they make sense, but too often the cost of integration and missing links have untold inefficiencies that bog down operational efficiency.  Separate systems do not always have the ability to integrate product inquiries and order entry.  Separate systems often stop after the prospect becomes a customer.  What happens after the first sale?  Who or how takes over from that point?  Who manages the relationship then?


Empower your sales team with the tools they need to drive more business and make your customers happier.  Contact Dolvin Consulting today to see how integration of your operations will save you time and money.