Step Up to World Class Standards (1,745 words)
One challenge these systems haven't yet fully resolved is seamless support for convergent media: providing a unified communications center for fax, phone, e-mail, mail, Web and pagers. If your customers typically require multi-channel communications, investigate solutions from companies such as Interactive Intelligence or Appiant Technologies.
There are several critical objectives to keep in mind when managing direct-commerce customers and orders.
1. Maintain a unified view of the customer. All customer activity—from shopping behavior on the Web to inquiries handled by the contact center (chat, e-mail, phone, fax or mail) to orders placed and returns made—should be visible to your customer service reps and sales agents. The system also should have access to this data if it's relevant to pricing or discounts.
2. Provide one-touch customer service. Agents should either be empowered with sufficient information to resolve issues on their own, or your system should make it possible to pass a customer's call, with the rep's notes and customer data to whomever is best able to provide a resolution.
Your system also should support efficient order entry, both in the call center and on the Web. Creating a new customer record should not require excessive time, data or aggravation. And strive to set up business-to-business customers in a way that lets you easily track relationships among company contacts, headquarters, divisions and individual business sites.
In addition to ordered-by, ship-to, and bill-to names and addresses, it's convenient to be able to log and track mail-to names of decision makers. These are people who may never appear as an ordered-by (or anywhere else in your order records, for that matter) but who are more important than all the other names mailed.
3. Build a dynamic, multi-dimensional knowledge base of customer activity and product information. Here, the primary purpose is to support customer self-service on the Internet with threaded discussion groups, frequently asked questions, or other database or community applications that permit customers to learn more about your products, share information about them, troubleshoot problems, or find answers to questions about your company or the products you sell.