If you’re in the distribution businesses, you are probably facing new modes of competition for customers. Much of it is driven by advances in customer-facing technology. The right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can help your business catch up to, and then outrun, your competitors in terms of customer satisfaction.
Why Customer Satisfaction Matters
Does customer satisfaction matter in a distribution business? This might seem like a “duh” question, but the reality today is that many distribution companies are at risk for customer defecting to competitors who deliver a superior level of satisfaction. It’s not so much that your customers don’t like you. The trouble is that your competitors may be luring them away with better experiences and value.
What Is Customer Satisfaction in a Distribution Business?
Again, this is a simple question with a not-so-simple answer anymore. In our experience working with distribution businesses, we’ve found that a satisfied customer is one who feels that he or she is getting the best deals, the best selection and the best service available in the marketplace.
The specifics can vary a great deal depending on the industry. In auto parts, for example, a distribution company that takes three hours to deliver is going to be out of business soon. In other industries, shipping in a week creates a high level of satisfaction. Technology, however, is changing the terms of the conversation. What used to be a sure-fire way of delivering customer satisfaction is no longer so reliable.
Elements of Customer Satisfaction Rooted in ERP
Customer satisfaction is increasingly rooted in software. Of course, quality of management and having the right people and processes still matter. You can have great software, but bad customer satisfaction. That said, the right ERP software now enables higher customer satisfaction than was possible before. Elements of customer satisfaction that come from modern ERP include:
- Capturing data about the order and the customer – data rich ERP solutions enable you to understand your customers’ needs better than before. This can drive smarter inventory decisions and innovations in service.
- Mobility – your customers are on the move and expect to be able to interact with your distribution business from any place on any device.
- Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT sensors can transform your warehouse and logistics operations, giving you up-to-the-minute knowledge about order statuses and shipments.
- Real-time visibility of available inventory as well as inventory in transit – you can get better at figuring out reorder quantities and staying on top of inventory costs.
- Better, faster quoting, order acceptance, order entry and fulfillment – make it as easy for your customers as possible. This might include reducing delays through automated sales order processing
Your customers’ expectations are changing as competitors embrace these kinds of ERP innovations. Legacy ERP solutions may not be able to keep up. To keep customers satisfied and loyal, it’s probably going to be necessary to invest in a modern ERP system. We can help you in this process. We have worked with many distribution businesses on updating their ERP to deliver higher rates of customer satisfaction.