The world of retailing has never been easy, but retailers today face unprecedented challenges: product commoditization, “showrooming,” short product lifecycles, margin compression, and the challenge of meeting increasing customer expectations while reducing costs.
Self service is one way to reduce costs, and hardly a new idea. The problem is that while it saves money, self service has too often diminished the customer experience, leading to frustration rather than delight. That’s because, as noted previously here, self service 1.0 was focused on providing information; it “didn’t give users what they really wanted: the ability to get broken things fixed, and to order new things.”
Self service 2.0, on the other hand, is focused on action. It provides customers (internal or external) with actionable services, enabling them to make specific requests, track the progress of those service requests at any time, and provide feedback on the timeliness and quality of service received. It automates processes to accelerate service delivery, eliminate redundant and error-prone processes, and reduce costs. But just as important (if not more so), it’s designed to improve the customer experience.
Actionable IT service catalogs are one example of self service 2.0. But while useful and efficient, their focus on IT services limited their value to retail (or other types of) organizations, and made them yet another department system to be learned and navigated.
Enterprise request management (ERM) is an ideal strategy for taking self service 2.0 out of department silos and extending it across the enterprise. It provides a single intuitive web-based portal for requesting any type of service. External customers can access a public-facing portal for ordering and checking the status of various types of services. Retail employees can access an internal portal for ordering services from HR, IT, facilities, or even complex services involving multiple functions.
For example, no retailer wants a customer to have to wait for attention from an employee who is on-hold with a technician, trying to resolve a problem with a point-of-sale terminal. With ERM, the employee can order the repair online (from a PC, tablet or smart phone), and get an instant estimate of the expected repair time (as well as the ability to track request status). Spending less time resolving such service issues not only reduces costs, it makes life better for both the employee and the customer.
While implementing an ERM strategy generally requires some new technology investments, most global retailers already have many of the pieces in place (such as HR, ITMS, supply chain and other departmental and enterprise software platforms). ERM is designed to leverage existing technology and training investments. And it empowers departmental managers to create, manage and optimize their own business processes—with minimal technical assistance—speeding adoption across the organization.
To learn more:
- Download How ERM Solves Tough Problems for Global Retailers (PDF).
- View Kinetic Data offerings for retailers.
- Download the white paper, Enterprise Request Management: An Overview (form).