Managing customer orders is hard work. There’s no doubt about it. What OCS operators have to do on a daily basis is nothing short of logistical magic. This includes receiving and processing orders, managing routes, and navigating last-minute issues that impact many areas of the business. (Broken down truck anyone?)

That’s why efficiency is a key element to your success as an OCS operator. Without it, operations can quickly spiral out of control, leaving your team scrambling and your customers waiting…

And waiting some more.

But what is efficiency in today’s world? As new technology is developed, what was once a convenient way to conduct business is increasingly becoming the old way. What was efficient fifteen or even ten years ago is hardly so now. Consider the use of email.

While email is still an incredible tool for communicating, inboxes have become so bloated that they present a major challenge to grapple with. A quick search online offers 300+ million results for how to manage email effectively:

Clearly, managing email is a sore spot for people. Many of whom are your customers. This is why managing their orders through (sometimes lengthy) email chains is problematic. Here are three specific reasons why…

Email is time-consuming

Let’s face it: processing emails is tedious work. But after doing things a certain way for so long, it’s sometimes hard to see the pitfalls. “It’s just the way we do things” is a common response. But that’s what people were saying when email first became a tool for businesses years ago.

To be clear, email still serves a critical purpose for any business. But using it for certain activities like taking orders requires too much time in today’s world. People crave convenience.

Think through a typical email order. The customer sends their request. It sits in somebody’s inbox for a little while (sometimes maybe too long). That person reads the message, realizes one of the items requested is out of stock. They reply to the customer to inform them and await the response. Maybe it’s within minutes, maybe it takes hours. Who knows?! But it finally comes through and the order is then manually keyed into a VMS to be processed. Multiply this by dozens of times a day and…

Well, that’s a lot of time.

Now think about it from your customer’s perspective.

They have meetings to attend. Deadlines to meet. And a whole slew of problems to fix. In other words, they’re busy. Today’s business buyer needs quick solutions that simplify their workload. The back and forth messages leave an open loop in their tasks and eat up precious time throughout their day.

Email is prone to errors

Typos and miscommunication are two of the biggest problems in any email communication. Think about how they can impact the way an operator manages orders.

When you get some customers writing that they want “that chocolate thing we ordered last time,” it’s easy to misunderstand or confuse it with another customer, then end up delivering the wrong item. Or, at best, you’ll have to search through their last order to confirm what that item was. Which, again, is time-consuming.

And if a customer accidentally typed the wrong amount of a product, they’re not going to end up with what they expected. Maybe they’ll get a lot more. Maybe a lot less.

An honest mistake on their part, no doubt. But it’s still a frustrating experience. Over time, there can be some pretty significant financial problems for them and you.

Lack of data insights

Without knowing what products your customers are buying, how can you effectively sell and offer them the value they’re seeking? This is another area where email falls short as a system for managing customer orders.

Sure, it’s possible to sift through all the messages and other systems to find what you’re looking for. But that’s a major project in and of itself.

The businesses that are winning now are the ones that understand their customers. Managing orders through email just isn’t an effective tool for providing you with the necessary insights that can impact important decisions for your growth.

Final Thoughts

Email is a critical communication tool. But today, it falls flat as a reliable tool to manage customer orders at scale. It causes delays in the order process and creates a chaotic experience for both customers and your team. As an operator, do you want to create that kind of experience for customers and employees?