A wide variety of document types and forms of customer documentation are involved moving a product from inventory to the customer: invoices, packing lists, manifests, labels, advanced shipping notices, return material authorizations, handling notices, and a wide array of personalized offers and regulatory paperwork.
Document-related customer fulfillment challenges are accelerating because of: 1) a growing global footprint of both suppliers and customers; 2) a demand by customers for more specialized logistics and by delivery solutions; and 3) increased integration of manufacturers into networks of suppliers and customers, requiring improved distribution and logistics agility and flexibility.
Challenges associated with customer documentation do not begin with the information that actually accompanies an order, although simply gathering this information is a problem for many organizations. The customer documentation process actually begins when a quote is issued and an order is made, continues throughout the manufacturing process itself, extends to the documentation that accompanies an order, and is critically important in follow-up customer service.
9 Benefits of Using Document Management to Automate Customer Documentation:
- Improve manufacturing cycle time and minimize gaps/time delays in the fulfillment, delivery and invoicing processes, creating a closer and immediate alignment between key requirements and documentation of those requirements.
- Reduce time and staff by automatically assembling the paperwork necessary to ship a product.
- Reduce errors and the costs of exception processing caused by incomplete or missing paperwork.
- The potential to increase future sales (and reduce excess inventories!) by including personalized marketing messages in delivery paperwork and notifications.
- Creation of a digital archive enables BOTH improved customer service (you are able to find ALL of the documentation related to a particular customer) and compliance.
- For companies in particular regulated industries, there are increasing numbers of country-specific documentation requirements regarding the shipping and handling of hazardous materials, refrigerated goods, controlled substances, and so on.
- ANY company doing business globally understand that governments worldwide require documentation with every international shipment to monitor and regulate the movement of goods across borders. Per UPS, “Today’s businesses must navigate these regulations, as well as free trade agreements and varying duty rates. Accurate and complete documentation is critical to keep your shipments moving and avoid costly delays.”
- As organizations increasingly deal with globally distributed customers and suppliers, the need to digitize core customer documentation and share that information across business processes is growing. This management of processes across multiple time zones and geographies simply cannot be done with processes that rely on paper.
- Having all of the information associated with a customer accessible allows customer service representatives to anticipate customer needs, reduce errors, and not only meet, but exceed, customer expectations.
All of these point to the need for an integrated information management infrastructure. Without this infrastructure, customer information will be scattered across the organization, critical information will be unavailable at key decision points, and manufacturing cycle time will inevitably deteriorate.