The Plight of the Modern Customer Service Manager



Mobile help for customer service!

Mobile help for customer service!

Your hands are full

This is probably not news to you, but as a modern customer service manager you have your hands full! And that is mainly because your customers are now literally all over the place.

They are all over the place in terms of what they expect from you as a seller of goods and services. They are all over the place in terms of how they expect to interact with you. In terms of how they expect to place orders. In terms of how they inquire about their orders, or about the availability of product in your warehouse. Your customers are all over the place in terms of how they expect to pay you. All over the place in terms of the availability of intelligence for you to gather and discern. All over the place in terms of what it takes for you to earn their loyalty.

Yes, that is a lot to lay on you, as if managing customer service was not already challenging enough.

Because customer needs rule

But here is the good news—all of this customer expectation spells opportunity for you. That is because the winners in your industry today are the ones ready, willing and able to meet, greet and serve the customer wherever they are and whenever they’re ready to interact with you.

Your day is obviously filled with activities focused on what makes your most valuable to your company—building relationships, identifying customer needs, gathering intelligence, resolving issues, and representing your company These are all critical activities to the overall success of the business and building and maintaining brand loyalty.

However, what the customer expects from you, and when, has changed dramatically. Today’s customer wants and needs to interact with you on THEIR terms, not yours. Are you ready to meet them where they are? One way to get a sense of readiness is to take an inventory of your sales processes, technology and tools.

What your sales tools say about your business

What is the experience of doing business with you like today? Are you about to accommodate the wide range of buying expectations?

What possible ways can your customer interact with you when it comes to things like requesting a quote, placing an order, checking on inventory or shipment status? What means do they have to place an order with you?

  • Fax machine?
  • Telephone?
  • Customer service counter?
  • E-commerce website?
  • Customer portal?
  • Mobile app?

Our experience tells us that many of you reading this are still offering a sales channel built around the first three on the list—fax, phone and personal visit. While that may seem sufficient for you today, you may ask yourself about what your industry, and your place in it, will look like 2, 3 or 5 years from now. If competitors enter your space, do you think those new Millennial businesses will ask their customers to fax in orders? I don’t think so.

The smartphone is a profit machine

Have you noticed the communication tendencies of the new generation of workers? Their use of the telephone is a fraction of that compared to earlier generations. The modern workforce is far more inclined to interact with you online, often via an app on their smartphone or tablet.

I mentioned in an earlier paragraph that all of this is good news. And I believe it is good news. If you explore the marketplace you’ll see multiple options to connect E-commerce sites, customer portals and mobile sales apps with your back office ERP/accounting system.

Obviously you want to offer your customers access to you in ways that help you win more business and even more loyalty. So make sure your communication choices are reliable, dependable and supportable for you and your business. You just might find that you can do without that fax machine.


xkzero specializes in mobile sales, route sales and direct store delivery automation for small and mid-sized manufacturers and wholesale distribution companies. xkzero is also a certified developer for Sage X3, Sage 100 and Sage 500, creating integrated and embedded mobile solutions into some of North America’s most popular and powerful ERP and accounting systems for the mid-market.


The single biggest mistake in sales?

Meet the fax machine

“Four pages total. That should only take me about 20 minutes to enter into our sales order system!”

What makes a great sales process?  

Processes paired with the right business tools in order to drive maximum revenue at the lowest sales administration cost possible.   If you can do that while providing excellent customer service and a rewarding experience for your employees then you’re really on to something.

Which makes me wonder – can you have a great sales process when the tool in the middle of it all is…a fax machine?

At a recent technology conference, I presented a session entitled, “Why mobile, why now: a decision maker’s guide to success.” I asked the audience, “How many of you use a fax machine in your sales process?” Out of the approximately 110 people in attendance, half of them raised a hand.

Mobile app developers salivate at the sound of this kind of news.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the fax machine had its heyday, but it no longer serves us well. Today, using the fax machine as a tool for sales and purchasing processes can have a negative effect on your business. Here are some reasons:

  • It’s wholly inefficient.
  • It’s unnecessarily time consuming.
  • It creates potential for inaccuracies.
  • It terrifies younger workers.

In a world of integrated systems—ERP, CRM, e-commerce, mobile commerce—the fax machine should be at (or near) the top of your hit-list of antiquated tools to replace.

When a transaction is faxed, literally twice as much labor is required to complete the transaction than with an integrated mobile sales app—or even an online solution. A faxed order is first created on one system by the person generating the order, then it must be received, reviewed, and entered againthis time in the system of the receiver.

Benefits of an integrated mobile sales app include:

  • eliminate the redundant entry on the other end of the transaction
  • speed up the supply chain
  • reduce of errors
  • better experience for the sender and the receiver

As your company grows and the volume and size of the orders increasesthe more costly the fax machine becomes for you.

Whether you realize it or not, you are inevitably hiring workers in the new generation of so-called digital natives (those who were born using digital technology). Will your sales training include processes built around the fax machine, or will you embrace modern technological processes that will make your team more productive—and help you attract and retain an efficient and staff?