Digitize your business processes and put your customer first

Consumers are spoiled by all kinds of digital conveniences that these conveniences have been reduced to a basic right. Just think of how you can order a birthday present for your partner on Bol.com from the comfort of your seat. Can you still imagine how that worked, say, fifteen years ago? Without a smartphone, without next-day delivery?

Bridge the gap for your customer

Nowadays, every company uses several software packages to support business processes. For larger companies, these are often ERP packages such as SAP or Microsoft Dynamics. At SME's you will often find a collection of smaller, cloud-based (SaaS) solutions such as Teamleader, Yuki or Exact online. These tools and platforms are being used successfully and bring the promised benefits of digitization with them. However, all those advantages often remain within certain silo's and that is precisely where problems emerge.

The digitization of your organization should put the customer first. All those different digital systems in your organization should be linked and the underlying processes automated. Their common goal is a streamlined customer journey that meets your customer expectations.

Take the wholesale of building materials for example. While many of those companies still use the outdated model of telephone contact and on-site orders, the first web shops are now also starting to emerge.

A contractor will find all types and sizes for every screw in such a web shop. He can compare, create order lists and even have them delivered to different yards. You make the process much clearer for your customers, so orders are more efficient, which leads to increased ease of use. This is the kind of customer experience to strive for.

Let your data flow

With a good customer experience, it is not only those systems that the customer comes into direct contact with that are important. If you want to streamline your customer journey, it is important that the business processes behind it link up and speak the same language. This way the data can flow through these links and is available at the right time and in the right place.

Today, those business processes still too often operate in separate silos. As small islands, they each have their own data, employees and possibilities. Exchanging data with each other, for operational or commercial purposes, often proves difficult – if not impossible.

The assignment therefore consists of connecting these islands in a well-considered manner to form a larger whole, which is more than the sum of its parts. By bringing together the information from the parts, combining them smartly and presenting them clearly, we can actually use the added value of digitization.

The aforementioned building materials company has understood this well. The products in the webshop and their stock are synchronized with their SAP environment. In addition, the Customer Support department is connected to the other departments. If a customer asks them about a late delivery, they can see where the order currently is in the process. In a clear customer dashboard, they also see previous orders, previous questions and other relevant information that can serve the customer.

All this shows that the outdated idea of different tools and platforms as separate silos – each with their own data, capabilities and access rights – needs to be overhauled. Automation is the key to creating a bigger picture. Data sources are unlocked and made available to both employees and customers. Think of a dashboard environment with access to the right information, clearly presented and where data from different sources flows together.

"Make the transition to customer centricity through digitization: by focusing on their experience, through simplicity and ease of use."

Keep an eye on your data

Opening up data sources has many advantages, but that does not mean that one should act recklessly. On the contrary, data management and privacy, security and control are becoming more and more important.

Good data management can be achieved with well-considered choices about who gets to see what. This can ideally be supplemented with an auditing system. Such a system keeps track of which person consults or edits information and when this happens.

In addition, extra security measures such as two-step verification can help prevent problems with unauthorized access. When customers come into contact with sensitive company data, such as shipping documents, such additional verification is a must.

Companies that, on the one hand, consider safety of great importance and, on the other hand, put customer experience at the forefront of their further digitization, will succeed in staying ahead of their competitors. It is essential for this that the various business processes digitize and – more importantly – are linked together. This way, data can flow through your organization and become accessible to employees and customers.

By doing this you can make the transition to your customer through digitization: by focusing on their experience, through simplicity and ease of use.

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