When businesses reward their sales agents with commissions for their customers’ self-service online orders, the agents typically bring in more customers, expanding overall business, writes Luis J. Murgas, principal, Wipfli Digital.

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Luis J. Murgas

Is your business considering launching or expanding your online ordering and commerce channel?

The sales organization continues to give commissions for online reorders to the salesperson managing the account.

If so, your sales and customer service teams are probably top of mind. Any changes are going to impact them, which means you want to communicate the benefits of ecommerce not just to your customers but also to your sales and customer service teams. Online ordering tools can make their day-to-day lives easier and provide some additional benefits they didn’t expect.

Augmenting your book of business

First, let’s talk about sales. The digital age has come with fundamental shifts in buying patterns. In a world of self-service, one-click orders, and massive access to information and buyer self-education, what is the future role of the salesperson?

It’s a legitimate question, yet sales can be entirely driven by the human element. A great salesperson helps the buyer make a confident decision.

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Savvy organizations recognize both truths and have made their online channel a new enhanced book of business for their salespeople while reaping the benefits of an invigorated salesforce.

The essence of the approach is this:

  • A new online quoting, ordering and commerce tool brings concerns to the inside and outside salesperson about the potential erosion of commissions.
  • The organization has likely done an ROI calculation recognizing the digital channel could support geographical and customer segment expansion and reduce the cost of sale and service significantly, especially on reorders.
  • Recognizing the value of the salesperson’s value to help their customers navigate the change, the business offers them the same or even slightly higher commission rates for customers transitioning to online ordering tools.
  • The organization continues to give commissions for online reorders to the salesperson managing the account, albeit at a reduced percentage.
  • The reorders are more cost-effectively handled by an internal customer service group and/or by self-service tools in the portal.
  • The salesperson understands the accumulating commissions are coming with very little effort on their part. They also see the increased rewards for new customers and can start focusing more energy on gaining those new customers. Their portfolio of business continues to expand, bringing more rewards for both parties.
  • The business benefits from renewed energies on new customer acquisition, reduced reordering transactions costs, increased access to data on customer behavior, consistent customer service levels, and an approach that could be a win/win for both parties.

Boosting customer service standards with online order management

Online ordering tools also benefit the customer service side of your business.

When businesses get started, the owner or leadership group is extremely close to the customer and can understand whether the business’s customer service prior, during, or after a sale has missed the mark or planted the seeds for a loyal customer.

But the growth and expansion of the business, especially when opening new lines of business, brings with it the challenge of creating consistency or even maintaining the desired customer service standard that allowed the organization to grow in the first place.

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One way you can raise customer service standards is by implementing online ordering.

Here’s how it benefits your business and your customer service representatives:

  • Knowledge sharing: Incorporate the tribal knowledge of a few talented individuals into the software so that others can share that knowledge. An added benefit is that this can reduce onboarding and training time.
  • Automation: Automate manual tasks to reduce the effort to serve and help ensure prompt and clear customer follow-up.
  • Dashboards: Integrate information across departments and add information dashboards. This helps the customer service rep see a holistic view of how that customer has interacted with the whole business so the rep can be more in tune with the customer in front of them.
  • Templates: Create templates for self-service based on the high-quality standards you put in place for face-to-face interactions.
  • Consolidation: Consolidate all points of sale so that internal staff, external sales and customers are all ordering from the same online platform. This lets employees experience what the customers experience and likely accelerate the pace of refinement.
  • Analytics and reporting: Use analytics and reporting to review the way customers prefer to interact with your business and the potential points of friction in the experience.

All in all, your new digital toolset can help your business automate a level of the customer experience to ensure that the minimal and most common path aligns with the standard you set out when you started the business.

Luis J. Murgas is a principal of Wipfli Digital.  He has worked for a variety of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, and finance, for organizations including Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, the military, and start-ups.

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