The competition in the eCommerce space across the world is growing in intensity with every passing day. The situation is no different in India with several global retail chains and eCommerce companies expanding their operations in the country.
Customer experience is a deciding and differentiating factor in any eCommerce business strategy. To deliver a superior customer experience, standard operating procedures (SOPs) are considered to be one of the best eCommerce practices. However, it is common to observe many eCommerce businesses failing to correlate customer experience with SOPs. SOP for eCommerce is as important as SOP in retail.
Customer Journey Mapping in SOPs
The customer journey starts from prospective customers discovering your website, navigating through it, buying products, delivery of products, return requests and refund. Thus, there are a whole lot of touchpoints where a customer interacts with your business processes. All these touchpoints need to be carefully addressed in the operational SOPs spanning over the eCommerce customer journey map. The marketing policies and strategies for better customer experience and journey need to find operational definitions and then incorporated into the SOPs.
The whole point here is to align every process and operation to succeed at delivering a superior customer experience and better eCommerce business process flow.
IT-System Integration of SOPs
After you have drafted the SOPs for all the eCommerce business operations, the next crucial step is its integration with the business IT systems in place. This allows the digitization of business processes facilitating all the processes and process owners to carry out their respective SOPs or the duties and responsibilities.
After synchronisation of these SOPs in the IT systems, the flow of operational information requirements for different processes gets automated. You will no longer have to track manually about the number of days left for a refund to be processed, the number of days for an order to be delivered, etc.
Synchronization between Physical and Digital Touchpoints
There are several touchpoints both physical and digital where a customer comes in contact with your business processes or employees. Both types of touchpoints are an important part of the customer journey and experience. There has to be consistency and uniformity with what customers experience in their journey irrespective of the touchpoint. For example, what was delivered cannot be different from what was ordered. This where SOP becomes essential even if business IT systems are processing the information pertaining to orders, returns, payments, inventory, etc. Planned and well-defined process SOPs will ensure that all the operational activities are on expected routes and that there is synchronization between different processes to the end that what customers experience is a fulfilling, delightful, and transparent experience.
Helps to Build Trust
Extending what we concluded above customers expects uniformity, transparency, and fulfilling experience. For instance, they don’t expect one thing on their web account, another on a physical touchpoint, or a third thing when speaking to customer support. There has to be consistency in what they experience.
SOPs reduce the scope of mismatches between what is promised and what is delivered by a brand – whether by the IT systems or by the employees or by the delivery partners.
For example, the IT systems and the employees will be able to carry out the return policy of the company only when the procedure is known to the concerned team and the same is also incorporated into the IT system. This makes the customer experience a smooth one. And this because of the SOPs, the return policy could be smoothly carried out internally by the company. Fulfilled promises help gain customer trust.
Such credibility or trust-building capacity can be developed when a company is process-driven by the means of SOP leading to enhanced customer experience. With such leverage, SOP has a big role to play in an eCommerce growth strategy which has also brought to the limelight the role of SOP consultants.