Beyond the Bottomline: ERP Tools Are Meant for Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

March 24, 2015
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Enterprise Resource Planning software, or ERP for most users, is simply a business management platform meant to obtain, store, manage, and interpret data for various business activities. However, it is more than just that. Beyond being a mere data analysis tool, another perspective on ERP is that it ultimately serves as a tool for ensuring customer satisfaction.

Enterprise Resource Planning software, or ERP for most users, is simply a business management platform meant to obtain, store, manage, and interpret data for various business activities. However, it is more than just that. Beyond being a mere data analysis tool, another perspective on ERP is that it ultimately serves as a tool for ensuring customer satisfaction.

Most ERP platforms are a suite of integrated applications meant to make it easier to handle data pertaining and relevant to product planning, manufacturing, service delivery, marketing, sales, inventory management, shipping, and payment. It can provide an integrated and typically real-time glimpse of business processes by keeping data together under a powerful database management system. Some of the most important business details being monitored and analyzed by ERP are those involving purchases, sales, manufacturing, accounting, payroll, and business commitments.

ERPs are typically used by large enterprises and often involves specially trained or experienced personnel to be able to properly customize the system and analyze the data being gathered. This is not to say, however, that ERP is only for larger businesses. There are also ERP platforms that empower small to midsize businesses to gain the same visibility as their enterprise counterparts.

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By Shing Hin Yeung (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 )], via Wikimedia Commons

How ERP Ensures Customer Satisfaction

In general, ERP software helps ensure customer satisfaction by making business operations more efficient. By compiling various relevant business data for better analysis and presentation, operations are better managed so a business is able to deliver better services or offer better products to customers.

In more specific terms, ERP enables customer satisfaction through the following ways:

Integration of Best Practices: Most ERP systems integrate best practices in processing of data, or are capable of providing suggestions on how certain business operations or tasks are best handled according to industry data. These best practices are, of course, not compulsory and may conveniently be modified by the ERP user. As reported in the publication “Enhanced Project Success Through SAP Best Practices – International Benchmarking Study,” businesses that made use of industry best practices reduced time-consuming tasks like documentation, testing, and training by around 70%. This contributes to improve customer satisfaction as it allows businesses to spend more time in ensuring product or service delivery and the efficient handling of customer issues. Moreover, best practices help ensure compliance with business regulations – something not necessarily visible to most customers, but which are, most of the time, meant for their benefit.

Inventory Control and Availability Tracking: The retail industry particularly benefits from ERP. Big data analytics with ERP is even dubbed as the future of retail, as the centralized nature makes for improved visibility, especially when it comes to inventory and performance tracking. This enables better inventory control and more effective planning. As inventories are better managed, customers can be assured that they are less likely to encounter such problems as delayed shipments, wrong shipments, the shipping of defective items, or the difficulty in committing to demands due to the lack of information in inventory availability.

Improving Customer Handling: Retailers that have been accustomed to traditional brick and mortar store based selling use Point of Sale (PoS) systems to manage transactions. Usually, when they decide to open online sales channels, they find it difficult integrating data that can be useful in decision making. They usually end up using two systems to handle online and offline transactions. ERP offers the advantage of being an omnichannel solution to easily monitor and manage transactions online and offline. Bringing ERP in the inventory management equation addresses several hurdles by providing a unified view and control over inventory and sales.

Improved Efficiency Through Automation: Enterprise automation provides a comprehensive test management and test execution platform that automates processes, enabling the enterprise to properly react or adapt to the constant flow of business application changes. By automating tasks like ERP testing, for example, businesses that employ such platforms can more easily handle upgrade cycle management, code error tracking and scenario-checking. This ensures that no hiccups will come along during actual deployment, migration or upgrades to a new software version or an altogether different ERP implementation, which will require testing for compatibility across data sets and architecture.

Improved Visibility: ERP systems, likewise, create greater opportunities for collaboration as important business data are more easily and efficiently shared. More importantly, in the context of customer satisfaction, ERP systems can also make it easier to integrate customer feedback or responses to product offerings. ERP can track sales for specific items and monitor returns or complaints, making it easier to find out what customers really want and which items or item batches are causing dissatisfaction among customers.

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Image credit: Panaya.com http://panaya.com/index.php?option=com_k2&id=83_e3ad8bca5136dc20ec986a1db99763bb&lang=en&task=download&view=item

The bottom line in all of these is effective and efficient data management. Better handling of business data to make these more useful in managing business operations will ultimately result in better products or services and improved handling of customer concerns. It’s about enabling more meaningful data analysis and presentation to positively impact decision making.