Who’s Got Your Back….End?
Lately there has been such an incredible focus on acquiring new transactions and customers at any and all costs. We can all get caught up in designing a competitive offer and our media and marketing plan of attack. If we are smart we have sweated over our break even models and cogs analysis. We have our team tracking our competitors in the arena; studying each and every move that they are making in real time. We know that we will operate in a competitive arena from day one and our unique selling proposition needs to be compelling to grab more than our fair share of the available market. We are checking each and every box on our “to-do” list and seems that all systems are go for launch. Everyone is excited and expectations are high. Ready, Set. Wait.
All the best intentions and discipline around our business is not enough to insure success. In the back rooms of our businesses, there is a group that really holds the keys to insuring that we are building a scalable and profitable business. Before you leap onto the competitive scene, it is mission critical that you have a clear, no-nonsense understanding of your back end operation. Poor planning around back end operations and infrastructure will cause you to lose significant money and more importantly cripple your opportunity to achieve your goals and aspirations around the success of your business. Here a five areas that you should check and double check before you start your engines.
- Upfront Customer Screening – You’re excited. Orders are starting to flow in and you are already counting revenue. Don’t make the mistake that every order is a qualified order. What is your credit card screening process? Do you have a scalable system and provider that can screen incoming credit card orders for potentially fraudulent charges? What about validating the Card address to the CVV? Are you checking for issues around geography, overseas charges etc.? What about monitoring issues around card holders that have a history of charge backs and frequent returns. Do you have your own scoring process for all of these factors? If not, you should. Don’t open yourself to spending all sorts of cost to manage a customer that could be a problem for your company.
- Credit Card Declines – It happens all the time. Customers use one credit card and/or another and inevitably, their card declines the charge. What’s your reengagement process? What number of attempts do you make to recycle/ clear the card? How do you manage the delicate balance of asking the customer to resubmit a new card to move forward with the charge? You need to be ready day one to manage this process effectively. Remember these card holders were hand-raisers for your product offering. They wanted to purchase your product/service. You should not just abandon them. Just because a credit card declines doesn’t mean you end the relationship with the customer. Battle on to recapture the customer either via telephone and/or email notification.
- Customer Service Quality – What’s your strategy to manage inbound customer contacts to your company whether they come via telephone and/or online? Your customer service interface and capabilities can either strengthen your business or ruin it. Remember your customers see every contact with your company regardless of dept. as THE company. Is the team well trained, courteous, responsive and friendly? What about your online interface? Are you ready to field inbound questions and issues in a brand and customer friendly mode? If you haven’t tested and retested your customer service quality then do what you must in order to get your house in order. No amount of marketing will be able to reverse customer feedback and the viral reviews that scorned customers will generate. The expectation today is that every request will be dealt with promptly and with a high level of customer satisfaction – front and center.
- Inventory & Fill Rate – The biggest issue that many companies face is their ability to manage inventory in real time to meet customer demand. Recently I have heard horror stories about organizations that have misjudged demand and back up inventory only to have their core products on “back order” – Have you modeled your inventory and fill rate to insure that this condition doesn’t happen to your company? Consumers expect that you will have the product when they need it…which is at the time of order. It’s inexcusable to the consumer that your company would not have product available. As we head into the holiday season, it is really a science to develop an inventory control process to insure that you don’t turn off customers. Construct your inventory models to back up a range of demand levels so you aren’t caught off guard. You are shipping daily to customers – extend these models to insure you have enough stock to deal with increasing demand; day by day, week to week.
- Transactions to Recurring Customers – You are taking and fulfilling orders. You are happy. That “CRM” platform that you have deployed; is it really building and managing a “relationship” with your customers? No technology SAS platform will ever truly engage with customers in a way that is genuine and personal. It takes the human touch today to connect with customers and keep them interested and engaged with your company. Today’s consumer knows when they are dealing with an Artificial Intelligent interface versus a real human being. You need to take care of your customers in a real and hyper relevant manner. If you haven’t developed that infrastructure and DNA in your company, you might find yourself generating lots of interest and one off orders and not retaining the # of customers that you need to truly build a profitable business.
As much as we all enjoy the building of marketing efforts, the business landscape is littered with companies who spent more time on the front end of their business than the back end. Any business which cannot demonstrate their ability to manage scale and increase loyalty, affinity and life time value from day one shouldn’t be in the business. Customers will reward you handsomely for a great back end and crush you when you don’t meet and/or exceed their expectation around customer service.