See your business from your customers' prospective

Do your business processes enhance your customer service? Without getting too deep into the Customer Experience (CX) methodology, can you answer some simpler questions from a customer standpoint:
  • Are we easy to do business with?
  • Do we provide enough information so you (our customers) can make decisions you're confident in?
  • Do we provide a positive experience?
  • Are you happier after the interaction?
Defined and optimized processes can go a long way toward answering these questions with a "yes" answer, but setting up your systems to provide your customer facing team with the right tools and data can be the details that make the process a positive one.

I recently had a client in the Distribution world that was having a problem with their part data. This was a small company that has a few employees and everybody does a bit of everything. Their main software system is Quickbooks Pro, which has the ability to have 3 users, and during business hours when they take orders over the phone, these three licenses are in use for estimate/invoice entry.

Typically, when a customer calls, they want to know three things:
  1. Do you have the item I want?
  2. What does it cost?
  3. How long will it take to get it here?
In the Invoice screen of Quickbooks, if you don't have the quantity desired, Quickbooks will display a dialog stating so. Your price is automatically populated from the Item data. (along with the Customer discounts) The shipping time was calculated in the UPS Worldship screen (along with shipping charges). So when the order's items were in stock, the customer was generally satisfied.

But, what if the items weren't on the shelves?

Typically, "Uh... We'll have to call the supplier and order some more and see how long that will take. I'll give you a call back when I get the answer."

The best case is that they ship other items on the order and get with the supplier pronto to get the answers to the initial customer query. Another outcome is the customer says "hold off on everything until you know the answer." The worst outcome of that is while you're calling your supplier, the customer is calling your competition and ordering the items there....

This client was used to ERP systems in their previous life, with Safety Stock (Reorder Point), Min/Max, and Lead time data available. The question to me, 

"How can we make Quickbooks more ERP-like?"

Here's what we did.
  • In the Item screen, we added two Custom Fields. One for Lead Time (in days) and another for Min Buy (in eaches). We added these fields to both the Estimate and Invoice templates in use, adding them to the Columns tab for the Screen only.
  • Then we did an Item Listing report, dumping it to Excel and adding two columns, for Lead Time and Min Buy, and worked with the vendor base to get this data populated, along with current costs.
  • While we were at it, we looked at the previous 18 months of Item usage (Sales by Item Detail) and used this data to update the Reorder Point field.
  • Some of these purchased Items were used in parent Items (assemblies). We updated the costs of each assembly (they were an Actual Cost company) based on the updated component costs.
  • AND for each assembly, added the longest lead-time of the components to the build time, and updated the Assembly lead time.
This allowed the team to better tell the customer when an OOS (out-of-stock) item could arrive, while they were on the phone. They also started tracking OOS item data more precisely to gauge the Reorder Point settings effectivity. 

While it's still early, a few customers did remark they were happy they didn't need a call back to get time data. The customer had the data they needed to make a decision quickly, without waiting for another call back. It's also made the teammates taking the order more confident in the system's ability to help them service the customer. 

Taking the time to set your processes & systems up for success, before the transactions take place, should benefit your customer satisfaction and set your business up for success as well!

Let's get started today!


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