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Chapter 2. Spotting e-Business Trends > Customer-Oriented Trends

Customer-Oriented Trends

Faster Service: For the Customer, Time Is Money

Customers count speed of service as a key reason for doing business with certain companies. Therefore, compress the number of steps it takes to serve customers. Customers hate delays; moreover, they hate waiting for service. Just look at the success of drive-through oil changes, drive-through fast food, and other quick-turnaround businesses. As their time quotas shrink, customers look for companies that provide faster service. Look at new trends in online and offline retailing. The message to the marketplace is clear: To succeed, companies must reduce the processing time of search, selection, order entry, and order fulfillment. Delays at any step of the process are unacceptable!

Why do delays occur? Often, they're caused by poorly designed processes that have excessive hand-offs. Consider the case of a specialty stainless steel producer that wanted to improve its unacceptable 40 percent on-time delivery record. The company identified unnecessary hand-offs as delaying the production process. For example, each order was entered into the system three times. First, customer service entered the information after writing down the buyer's specifications and used printed lists to check whether the order could be produced. Customer service then checked printed schedules to determine a ship date. Second, operations verified whether a particular grade of steel could be produced; information was then entered into operations' system. Third, production control used its own files to verify the scheduling and then reentered the information as well. This repetition caused significant delays and errors.


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