This piece was produced in partnership with Corevist. George Anderson, Digital Marketing Manager, shares expert tips for streamlining your OTC cycle below:
For growth, you need resources. It’s true that increased efficiency doesn’t necessarily lead to more revenue or business expansion, but it does free up resources you can reinvest elsewhere. If you’re a manufacturer running your B2B business on SAP ERP, here are some tips for increasing efficiency — particularly in your OTC (order to cash) cycle — to free up resources for growth.
ONE: Stop customer service customer service calls about price and availability
We’ve worked with many manufacturers whose channel partners want to check price and availability before they even put an order together. Since these two data points already exist in the manufacturer’s SAP ERP, it makes sense to give their customers access to the information through a self-service customer portal that has a real-time integration to SAP ERP. That way, customers can type in an SKU and see real-time availability with their contracted price.
Now that customer service is freed from those routine checks, they can focus on improving customer retention and increasing average order value. Grow. Grow. Grow.
TWO: Stop phone, fax and email orders
Many of your channel partners have contracted pricing and inventory or ATP (available-to-promise) calculations that govern their transactions. They may also have personalized picklists they’re allowed to order from, unique bundled pricing — and a host of other business rules that guide their ordering process.
That level of personalization is essential to each transaction. But mapping it in a customer portal isn’t a trivial undertaking. And that complexity often keeps manufacturers from launching a self-service customer portal.
However, without a self-service ordering solution, your customer service staff will have to manually enter phone, fax and email orders into SAP, deal with the inevitable order errors and resolve them through time-consuming customer callbacks. This drives up your cost to serve, eating up resources you could invest in growth initiatives.
Order posting methods for your OTC cycle: Expensive vs. efficient
A self-service portal with direct, real-time ERP integration replaces the manual workflow in your OTC cycle. If you’re going to replace phone, fax and email ordering with self-service online ordering, your customer portal should be built on real-time integration to SAP ERP — including intelligent error messaging from SAP that helps the user create an error-free order. Without the SAP integration, customers will go back to placing orders via phone, fax and email.
THREE: Stop calls to check order status
Order tracking is another area where you can gain efficiency. Like checking price and availability, it’s a routine request for information that doesn’t actually require human expertise. Self-service order tracking can allow your staff to switch to other, higher-value tasks — or you can reinvest those resources in growth.
You already have the data your customers need to track orders. It lives in SAP ERP and in the databases of your shipping partners. The key is a real-time integration to SAP ERP and to major shipping carriers.
This is the thinking behind Corevist Order Tracking. Because it includes our SAP integration architecture, you can expand the portal to full B2B eCommerce when you’re ready — without duplicate infrastructure investment.
FOUR: Start self-service four routine account activities
Many manufacturers rely on manual, paper-based processes for sending account statements, receiving payments and posting them to the account. These processes may involve your accounts payable department, your customer service department or both. This manual human intervention isn’t scalable.
Getting account status, invoice history and status, and making payments are all routine actions in the customer journey. With the human intervention removed, you can reduce your cost to serve while providing customers with the self-service account management capabilities they want.
The key is to choose a customer portal solution that supports your A/R (accounts receivable) processes through real-time SAP integration. With this kind of solution in place, you can empower your channel partners to manage their accounts and pay down invoices without the help of customer service or A/R. It’s a great way to free up resources for reinvestment in growth initiatives.
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