Global B2B Decreases Billing Disputes | From Spreadsheet to CRM
Unified communications is the dream; we know now that the means can never be a motley assortment of spreadsheets, phone calls and email. Our experience at leadership positions within a global B2B showed us how a few simple tools can significantly improve the customer experience.
COORDINATION BECAME A PROBLEM.
The company under review is a provider of advanced technical services, serving the international nuclear energy vertical. Many problems reduced to this lack of coordination in communications, but one was particularly damaging.
The company repeatedly failed to inform customers of price increases until after the order was already filled. There was no foul play here; the underlying issue was a breakdown in communication between sales and operations. Operations would make a change to the spreadsheet, and customer service would not be aware the change had taken place until it was billing time. The error was uncommon but persistent enough to turn off some good customers, and led to billing disputes and a longer billing cycle.
This core vulnerability manifested when any critical physical attributes, shipping dates, pricing, customer interactions, etc., were changed. Any characteristic that could show up internally but fail to trigger the right and necessary events would detract customer satisfaction, revenue, and morale.
This was not the primary cause for the CRM rollout, but it was one of those big wins that built momentum during the rollout process, garnering stakeholder support and acclaim.
LESS HANDOFF | MORE INTEGRATED WORKING
Customer dissatisfaction, long billing cycles, disputes… all the symptoms of discord became benefits of the SFDC rollout. Billing accuracy increased; disputes decreased; success was recognized across accounting, sales and operations.
The big win was a shorter billing cycle. The automated system enabled us to ask for customer approval of additional surcharges earlier, which significantly increased the probability of winning approval. When customers said they had never received a communication from us regarding the surcharge, we could easily bring up the notification and acceptance, thus resolving the dispute easily.
The problem with individuated communication services is exactly as large as the distance between those services. Without a cloud solution, email, phone, and spreadsheets are individualized. Privacy is preserved, but collaboration is impeded. Data is unavailable when and where it is needed.
Changes are one of the most pernicious symptoms of an ineffective information system because changes are made privately; they need to be made publicly, so that the right personnel are informed as soon as possible.
Or, if protocol dictates the change be recorded on a spreadsheet, then no one can identify the genesis of the change, or look at the full history of the document. The organization is fundamentally in discord — without shared vision of the past, present or future.
For this B2B, CRM made working less about a handoff and more about an integrated working relationship between sales and operations. The new system synchronized communication regarding production capacity, the schedule, and specific work orders. These were all communicated via SFDC.
SFDC is not the only CRM on the market, but it was the right choice for this B2B.