Cover Story: How Fast Is Your Fulfillment?
Lowndes agrees, pointing out that on some very large programs or campaigns for which the immediate response can be forecasted accurately, the fulfillment facility can compile the majority of the kit save for customized elements that would get printed on demand.
4. How should completed order updates be communicated back to the marketer?
d) All of the above
OK, this is sort of a trick question. The best practice is for fulfillment status data feeds to at least match the frequency of lead data feeds sent to the fulfillment firm, says Lowndes. So, if a marketer sends a daily blast, the fulfillment vendor will reply with a daily update, usually at the end of the last work shift. If the leads are delivered to the fulfillment firm in real time, then that’s how the lead fulfillment data should be processed.
With respect to the details shared, Lowndes says the update should include the status of the request, what was sent and, if the request was not fulfilled, why (e.g., missing data points or data points that conflict with the marketer’s business rules). Then, the marketer and fulfillment firm can work on any courses of action to process these leads according to the marketer’s lead management guidelines.
McIntosh explains that “most marketers have their fulfillment database separate from their CRM system,” and do daily batch processing where the two databases reconcile during the night. To reduce gaps in service and convert more leads, he notes, sophisticated marketers have invested in systems that tie in to their enterprise resource planning systems so information can be transferred in real time and leveraged for a more holistic viewpoint on customer interactions.
Such real-time visibility into the lead handling process rapidly is becoming a key requirement in business, says Demirdjian. “The days where you call the warehouse to find out what happened to your order or where your inventory level is should be gone,” he states.