Within each step of the order process, there is the possibility that an order error or problem may occur. Some of these problems are internal, caused by business employees, systems and processes. Some of them are external, caused by customers, vendors and other external forces such as weather conditions. Most companies track and analyze order processing problems so that they can find ways to prevent them in the future. Order processing problems are costly and negatively impact customer satisfaction.
Order processing begins with a customer placing an order for a product or service. During this process, the customer may provide the wrong product number, quantity, shipping address or billing information. The error may be verbal, in writing or electronic, via online order entry.
There are times when a customer is not sure what type of product or service will fulfill her needs and will contact a customer service department for advice. During this information exchange, problems may occur. The customer may not communicate clearly or the employee who receives the inquiry may be new or poorly trained. These problems may lead to a customer receiving a product or service that cannot fulfill her needs.
Order entry representatives take verbal, written and electronic orders from customers and enter the information into an order processing system. During the entry process, they may input incorrect product, service, customer or billing information. There may also be occurrences when the customer service employee enters the correct information, but incorrect information processes due to a system error or malfunction.
Orders for tangible products and goods transmit to an order fulfillment center and are “picked and packed.” When an order is picked, an employee locates the requested items within a warehouse, removes them from storage and then adds them to the customer order. When an order is packed, an employee takes the picked items and packages them in a shipping box or container. Common order picking problems include choosing the wrong product, the wrong color or the wrong quantity. Common order packing problems include missing products, incomplete orders or improper packaging, which can lead to product damage.
Orders ship to customer locations via U.S.P.S. mail, truck (also called “ground”) or air delivery. Common internal shipping problems include choosing the wrong shipping carrier or the wrong shipping priority (e.g., next day delivery, two day delivery). Common external shipping problems include late product delivery, lack of product delivery or product damage during the delivery process.
Even when the order entry and fulfillment are flawless, the product quality can cause problems. The concept of product quality considers both perceptions and facts. A customer may order a product that matches the advertised product specifications, but does not look or perform the way that he expected. In other cases, poor product quality is more obvious, such as when the product breaks after just one use. In either case, poor product quality is a problem, which usually leads to a product replacement or product return.
Based in Boston, Marci Reynolds has been writing online, business-related articles since 2000. Her areas of expertise include operations, call centers, sales, customer service and process improvement. Reynolds has her Master of Business Administration from Bentley University, a Bachelor of Science in business from Northeastern University and a Six Sigma Greenbelt.