Where Should CG Companies Focus Digital Efforts?
Make the customer the primary beneficiary of the digital experience by delivering a great operational experience. I suggest this start with a very simple objective … find ways to ship complete, ship on-time, and be operationally cost-effective. Granted, easier said than done, but I urge that the digital business development efforts must require a balanced, pragmatic approach to building operational capabilities to better execute and support the digital sales transaction. I don’t dispute that marketing is often the core element to digital business development, but operational elements must be hyper-focused on the tasks of managing the customer order (entering, pricing, applying discounts, reviewing for accuracy), order picking, order status, shipping, returns and lead time.
When a customer has a post-sales need to call or contact you, how is that administered? Solid operators know and can anticipate these scenarios. Without addressing these crucial yet often simple (not glamourous) components; the incremental business development opportunities or gains from digital efforts won’t be sustainable. When successfully deployed, this operational focus naturally creates organizational attention and urgency to support the customer and confidence in the organization to respond to the dynamic changes of a digital business environment.
As digital business activities increase; it’s important to recognize the impact, strain or activity relief to the existing operational business practices. For instance, our team currently handles over 8,000 inquires per week on average from our traditional trading partners. Each contact is an opportunity to demonstrate our process effectiveness and to learn from the customer on where an improvement opportunity exists. As such, we’ve been effectively utilizing our CRM solution and ERP reporting solution to gather and archive reason codes for the customer contact event and to understand the supporting workflow resources we need to address the trade customer’s needs. With digital business development efforts we must determine how we will leverage the use of our existing solutions, where new tools are needed, and where should we expect the customer contact frequency to increase or decrease?
These considerations are central planning components for our digital efforts and essential to the eventual post-sales service we provide our customers. With careful assessment to these operational areas and the corresponding actions / resources aligned – this holistic approach to digital activities becomes a key contributor to enhancing the product or company’s total brand value.
When successfuly engaging cross-team functions to support the digital operational experience – extra care will be provided to the digital business forecast, demand drivers, demand signals, seasonal considerations, capacity constraints, lead-time parameter, warehouse system requirements, and the business intelligence required to know how these things are working together. While these activities may currently reside in the core or traditional business practices (before digital arrived), the great sales, service, and operational companies will dedicate further expertise and resources because of the operational ROI and business rewards offered in the digital environments.
This often means producing a need to challenge the status quo in your distribution network, product pack configurations, route-to-market, existing supply chain measures, etc. The most resilient leaders embrace this potential business complexity because of the potential gains yet they still keep the planning and operational objective on meeting the simple operational needs of the customer: ship complete, ship on-time and do this cost effectively.
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