For retailers of all sizes, delivering a positive customer experience starts with strong backend supply chain operations. Many supply chain organizations are only focused on orders, but without prioritizing and managing their overall customer experience (CX), organizations risk disgruntled clients and losing orders to competitors, which results in revenue loss. However, there are important steps an organization can take within its supply chain to make a customer’s experience more rewarding and thus repeatable: transparency, support and feedback. All of which are achieved through stronger business-to-business technology integrations.
In a recent survey, 66% of respondents said their companies lost up to $500,000 in annual revenue in 2020 due to poor technology integrations, compared with 43% the prior year. On top of that, 10% estimated they lost more than $1,000,000 due to integration issues in 2020. Adding to these financial losses, many CX issues arise if the supply chain isn't working properly which can potentially harm customer retention and brand loyalty.
Simply put, for companies like these, B2B integration is broken. To achieve optimal CX in the supply chain, below are three necessary components organizations must implement when working with their customers.
It's imperative for e-commerce businesses today to provide customers with deep transparency and visibility into sourcing, shipping, and logistics, fulfillment, and final mile delivery. Now more than ever, customers want to know where their goods are manufactured and sometimes what standards are in place to protect the environment, a vulnerable population, or support preferable options.
While shipping and logistics are usually kept out of view of the end consumer, they play a critical role in the ultimate fulfillment and delivery of final goods. For instance, CX is negatively impacted if the products that customers want are out-of-stock, back-ordered for months, and if orders are delayed or don't show up at all.
The reality is, many retailers are still being held back by a network of aging, inefficient and fragile legacy systems that lack the flexibility, responsiveness, and computing power to appropriately orchestrate a complex supply chain. It’s still a challenge for retailers to provide customers with real-time updates on when they are going to get a knock on the door with their packages delivered. This was the case especially during the 2020 holiday season, when delivery carriers were overwhelmed with a record-breaking number of packages and mail to deliver.
Frictionless integration for back-office systems is absolutely critical for retail. To achieve full transparency throughout the supply chain, retailers can use a single B2B integration platform to transfer 100% of their data to the cloud, helping to streamline and enable the hundreds of thousands of monthly customer and partner communications that drive the business.
Let’s face it, things go wrong. What is most important is that our teams can quickly resolve problems and issues. That has two sub-components: How quickly and how accurately can my support team identify potential issues? And once they identify them, are they empowered to solve them? No one wants to hear from a support agent that “I need to transfer you to another department” so these two factors must be balanced and equally considered.
In major cities like New York, Washington D.C. and Denver, an estimated 15% of online shopping deliveries never make it to their final destination. Plus, in New York City, more than 90,000 packages disappear daily, contributing to growing problems for retailers and delivery service companies dealing with an estimated $25 million in lost goods and services. Yet, a staggering 25% of companies admit they really don’t know how much revenue they are losing due to lost orders.
Implementing proper B2B integration between apps across the company will allow real-time data to flow seamlessly across the organization, providing a more cohesive view of product stock and deliveries and the support team and customers. Plus, end-to-end integration for supply chain technology enables the businesses’ IT team and customer support has better visibility to quickly surface errors and identify and resolve these issues quickly.
Organizations in the supply chain can modernize the end-user experience with visibility and insights into each B2B transaction with the right integration system. This, in turn, gives customers access to real-time information into the business processes that connect your logistics business with their shipping requests.
Furthermore, customers want to give feedback to sales teams, support teams, and product teams. And they want that feedback to be responded to promptly, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. If your organization’s customer feedback is provided via social media, consider whether you are sufficiently staffed to react and take steps to address these issues. Quick responses and quick action to make things right with unsatisfied customers have saved many relationships during feedback cycles.
In order to be able to react to customer feedback in a timely manner, backend B2B technology integrations must be operating smoothly so there aren’t data silos and discrepancies that slow down internal processes. With modern end-to-end integration, automated electronic data interchange (EDI), application programming interface (API), and file-based integrations are all on an easy-to-use single “ecosystem integration” software platform to prevent these silos from occurring across the organization’s B2B technology.
Right now, only half of companies are confident they can access supply chain information to glean the business insights they needed to make faster, better decisions. With the right technology, making data-driven decisions doesn’t need to be out of reach, whether you’re a major corporation or a small- to mid-size company. For retailers and supply-chain solution providers, a B2B integration system simplifies and speeds up the process of managing hundreds of enterprise applications for more efficient onboarding of new customers, suppliers and partners. All these components are critical for providing a better overall experience for all parties involved.
Frank Kenney is director of market strategy at Cleo.
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