As businesses focus on developing new digital business models post pandemic, they must not lose sight of customer experience. With the level of service customers and clients expect now steeply on the rise, customer experience (CX) can make the difference between a customer continuing their relationship with you – or starting conversations with your competitors.

But the good news is that the solution many enterprises already use for streamlining processes and harmonising business information can also improve CX. Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, isn’t just for finding process efficiencies and lowering costs. It can play a crucial role in improving customer service too.

Most people think of ERP as a baseline component of a company’s IT infrastructure, used for managing the data and larger processes driving the business. When it comes to customer experience initiatives, CRM systems are usually assumed to be the technical enabler. But because ERP integrates your business processes from beginning to end, it can, if designed in the right way, help your business deliver an excellent customer experience at every interaction.

Organisations that struggle with consistent and positive customer experience tend to share common challenges including:

  • Siloed systems that create barriers to collaboration
  • Minimal visibility  of timely customer data and feedback
  • Lack of control over supply chain information
  • Inflexible IT systems that make it difficult to rapidly adapt to change
  • Lack of integration between back and front office

Although most companies understand the role CX plays in sustaining loyalty and repeat business in the digital economy, putting effective measures in place to improve it is a challenge. Customers expect full satisfaction at every touch point with a business and being good at customer service can be your most important differentiator

But good customer service is so much more than delivering quality goods & services at competitive prices. CX means delivery that is fast and on time – every time. It means having informed staff available that are happy to help, empowered with the right information about each customer. It means continually looking for ways to delight and surprise customers. ERP can help hit all these requirements.

 Four ways ERP can boost your company’s CX

With a company’s customer data already sitting in one database and well-established integrations with other systems, ERP can be a platform for providing the visibility and automation of processes that result in better customer experience. There are four primary ways this is enabled:

1.      Creating a single customer view

Companies with modern ERP can create a holistic view of each customer, including the history of all their touchpoints with the company. This allows the best customers to be prioritised and, for example, the automation of discounts for long-term loyalty. As ERP provides a single source of truth from a single, unified database, different departments and internal processes are connected by a shared storage point.

2.       Easing access to customer information

With a centralised system, it’s easier for customer-facing teams to understand customer needs. ERP makes sharing of information between departments and across the company simpler by eliminating the silos of data and better connecting front office, back office, warehouse, marketing and sales, or any other department that can impact customer experience – e.g. all of them. Centralising data also simplifies GDPR compliance.

3.       Optimising business processes

The information sitting in ERP systems can help companies deliver goods to customers quickly and on reliable timescales.  It can provide the basis for improving productivity and better inventory control. A modern ERP system can also facilitate customer communication through analysis of customer support tickets and feedback tracking.

4.      Improving management of supply and demand

The planning capabilities of ERP systems help ensure that orders are fulfilled every time -- and that the door to competing offers remains closed. Modern ERP can improve planning efficiency for all the resources needed to avoid shortages and maintain peak levels of finished product. ERP systems can also automate fulfillment based on customer history and preferences.

ERP is the CX enabler

Sectors from manufacturing to retail and beyond can benefit from raising their CX game. Improving customer experience can improve loyalty and develop longer lasting relationships. It really boils down to the essentials of how easy a company is to do business with – speed, responsiveness, reliability and projecting an attitude of service and willingness.

ERP can help companies deliver these capabilities to create trust and stronger engagement with products andservices. This contributes to revenue growth, better differentiation and reduction of costs related to customer turnover.

Although ERP systems have been a core component of enterprise IT for many years to create efficient internal business processes these capabilities can now add further value by helping organisations meet the rising customer expectations of the digital economy, winning customers’ appreciation and continued business.