It is common for executives to focus on refining internal processes, but understanding the customer’s perspective is equally important. By immersing yourself in the order tracking process, you can bridge the gap between internal operations and customer experiences. Following an order from the initial stages of planning and entry to its completion will shift your perspective, as you experience the Order Management Cycle (OMC) from a new viewpoint. Not only will you connect with customer service representatives (CSRs) and other key personnel, but you will also begin to create a customer-centric culture.
As you follow an order through the OMC, you must step into the customer’s shoes to fully understand their perspective. This window into the customer’s journey is often overlooked. By tracking an order, you’ll gain insights and empathy into the customer experience while also discovering how to enhance overall organizational and financial performance. By keeping the customer top-of-mind, you’ll create lifelong customers who are good for business. Not only do satisfied customers share their positive experiences, but they’re also likely to spend more money with your company.
By directly engaging with the order tracking process, you’ll begin to view your OMC through your customer’s eyes. To unlock this hidden information, select an order to follow through your operation. As outlined in Part One of this series, the order tracking process involves each stage of the OMC:
As you start your journey with order planning and order generation, you’ll find that the customer is the main focus initially. While sales and marketing teams create forecasts and campaigns, the customer remains in sight. But, as you follow an order to the next stage of cost estimation and pricing, you’ll notice the customer beginning to fade from view. Accountants and finance departments tend to lose sight of the customer as they prioritize bringing in earnings for the company.
Next, as you move to order entry and order selection and prioritization, the customer moves back into the spotlight. The CSRs who enter and prioritize orders have firsthand encounters with customers; they can provide incredible insight into the customer experience. Making improvements based on their customer interactions can lead to more efficient processes that save time and money.
Follow your order to scheduling and fulfillment, where the attention typically shifts back to the company and away from the customer. For instance, your operations staff might stick to a set schedule that doesn’t consider customer impact. Additionally, the fulfillment stage has become complicated and clunky, with multiple warehouses or third-party vendors creating increased opportunities for your order to fall through the cracks.
If your order makes it to the billing stage, you’ll find that the customer is again pushed aside to make the company the priority. Invoices are often difficult for customers to understand, instead serving the interest of the company. Obtaining customer feedback at this stage could help to simplify billing processes.
For companies that offer returns, the returns and claims stage can be a great opportunity to engage with customers. On the flip side, it can be a painful process that ends up pushing a customer to a competitor. Experiencing your company’s returns process can clarify pain points and identify their solutions.
Finally, postsales service provides another chance for direct customer interaction. The employees providing postsales service, whether it’s installation or training, can provide valuable customer insights that lead to positive changes.
Tracking an order through your OMC is bound to have a many-fold effect:
The insights gained from the order tracking process empower executives to make customer-centric decisions that permeate the entire organization. Feedback from CSRs at the order entry, order selection and prioritization, and returns and claims stages could shed light on recurring issues. Initiating systemic fixes will bring the customer to the forefront of each stage in the cycle, while having a positive impact on your organization’s financial performance.
Similarly, engaging with postsales service providers exposes the final impression that your customers are left with at the end of the OMC. This is a key area to close out on a high note. When customers complete a sale with a positive experience, they are more likely to be return customers and to buy more.1
It’s up to executives to set the cultural tone for their organizations. Regular interactions with customer service teams send a clear message: understanding the customer’s journey is not an abstract concept but a tangible responsibility. This cultural shift reverberates through every department, driving teams to focus on exceptional customer experiences.
Happier customers aren’t just easier to work with — they are better for your business. As we’ve mentioned, when customers have positive experiences, they are more likely to not only remain loyal but to spend more money with your company. Additionally, it’s more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to seek out new ones. In fact, it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep existing ones.2
Understanding the customer’s viewpoint is paramount, and executives have a unique opportunity to connect the divide between internal processes and external experiences. By immersing yourself in the order tracking process, you can unlock a transformative perspective that will have ripple effects throughout your organization. Get ready to experience newfound success.
Did you follow an order through your company’s OMC? Let’s discuss.
Part 1 — Mastering the Customer Experience with the Order Management Cycle
Part 2 — Coordinating Responsibilities for a Cohesive Distribution Cycle
Part 4 — Accelerating Order Management Cycles with Automation
1. Reichheld, Fred. “Prescription for Cutting Costs.” Bain & Company. https://media.bain.com/Images/BB_Prescription_cutting_costs.pdf
2. Silver, Kate. “Retaining Customers vs. Acquiring Customers.” American Express, November 21, 2019. https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/retaining-customers-vs-acquiring-customers/