Information Technology has become one of the most important resources to operate and manage organizations in the 21st century. It touches every facet of a modern enterprise, from customer service to operations, to social media, and to security. Over time, technology creates new jobs like mobile application developers, social media and business intelligence analysts, information security specialists, and data architects. Such jobs didn’t exist twenty, or even ten, years ago. Information technologies that integrate business functions across the enterprise, known as Enterprise Systems, have become the backbone of modern organizations.
In order to operate efficiently, companies are seeking ways to improve their business processes. Increasingly, companies are looking toward technology, such as enterprise systems, for solutions that improve their workflows and customer service process. Enterprise systems are large-scale software packages that are able to track and control all of the complex operations of a business. These systems are used as a central command hub to help automate the business and make reporting and decision making easier.
The following are 10 ways that enterprise systems can benefit the companies that successfully implement them:
1. Store Business Data in a Usable Format
One of the most important aspects of improving the customer experience is having data stored in a way that can be easily analyzed. As the saying goes, “what gets measured, gets managed,” and the same applies for business data. Some examples of data that should be stored include customer order history, when and where they made those orders, and how long it took for those orders to be processed. A company’s ability to quickly retrieve this type of information in order to answer customers’ questions can go a long way toward improving customer satisfaction.
2. Automate the Customer Service Process for Employees
Using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can be a major benefit for companies looking to streamline their customer service experience. ERPs allow businesses to automate their customer service process, which helps ensure that each employee is giving customers a consistent experience, and also ensuring that back office functions are as streamlined as possible. Automation saves time, which can then be used towards efforts to respond to customer requests for product information and to forecast for new products. If employees are spending less time on tracking down a customer’s order, they can spend more time developing long-lasting, profitable customer relationships.
3. Scale Available Resources (Up and Down) as Needed
One of the lesser-known benefits of enterprise systems is their ability to scale the IT capabilities of a business up or down as needed. This means that companies that need to store additional data or require access to additional processing power can get that excess capacity using a cloud, software as a service (SaaS), or an Internet-based enterprise system instead of needing to invest in IT hardware. This also means that if less IT capabilities are needed for any reason, those same services can be scaled down. These flexible solutions allow a company to control costs while continuing to meet their customers’ needs.
4. Maximize the Reliability of IT Infrastructure Necessary for Customer Service
Another benefit of enterprise systems is their increased reliability compared to small-scale IT solutions. This means that the systems will have greater “uptime” and little to no “downtime.” Making sure IT systems are collecting data and operating properly as close to 100% of the time as possible is an essential part of a strong and consistent customer experience.
5. Secure Customer Data
Over the past few years, we have seen a significantly increased number of security breaches into corporate servers. Large multinational corporations such as Home Depot, Target, Sony, and many others have seen their supposedly secure data centers breached, often at the cost of hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars. Securing customer data is not just imperative for a good customer experience; it is an essential financial priority as well.
6. Real-Time Access to Information
Business environments are always changing, and that means that waiting months for data is simply no longer feasible. Having access to real-time information about a business’s operations is a powerful feature of enterprise systems. A high level of access to data allows leadership to assess and improve upon the company’s processes far more efficiently than if they had to wait months before having actionable data.
7. Reduce the Cost of Doing Business
Enterprise systems ultimately reduce the cost of running a business, which means that a company will have more of its budget free to increase customer service capabilities or invest in other assets that can improve the customer experience. One example is inventory control, as keeping too much or too little inventory can have a significant effect on a business’ bottom line.
8. Standardized Process
One of the greatest challenges in larger enterprises is producing a consistently positive customer experience. One of the benefits that comprehensive and real-time data storage, in conjunction with the use of ERPs, provides is the ability to ensure standardization of the customer experience to a significantly greater degree than would otherwise be possible.
9. Improve Supply Chain Management
Enterprise systems can help streamline supply chain management, in large part through the use of data about where, when, and how customers order and suppliers deliver. This again emphasizes the importance of storing business data in a usable format. Ultimately, the ability to streamline the supply chain means that products are delivered to customers more reliably, and at a lower cost, than would otherwise be possible.
10. Ensure Regulatory Compliance
Regulation has long been a reality of business, but over the past several years, regulations have become increasingly stringent and enforced. Regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act demand that investors receive a significant amount of data about a company’s operations, including information about the properties, assets and inventory management. One of the benefits of enterprise management systems is that much of the data these regulations require can be collected through automated means. Thus, enterprise systems can be used to ensure compliance with increasingly onerous federal regulations without taking personnel away from their essential customer service functions.
These are just 10 of the many ways an enterprise system can benefit a business and its customer satisfaction record. The diversity of these ten benefits underscores the importance of having training and experience working with these complex systems. Businesses are realizing that customers are long-term assets, and by utilizing an enterprise system they can keep these assets in their portfolio.