Order-taking is arguably the most important element for a business – the element that enables a business to generate revenues. Three critical factors determine effective order-taking:
– Availability to take orders
– Accuracy in transaction processing
– Ubiquity of payment options
Availability to Take Orders
Several "need-triggers" drive a customer to need a specific product or service including:
– Forced Need (broken pipe … need a plumber; hungry … need to order pizza)
– Unforced Need (can I get cheaper insurance? I may need anti-virus software)
– Undiscovered Need (I did not know texting can improve my revenues!)
To maximize your revenues, your business should ideally have the ability to complete orders for all "need-triggers." However, catering to all "need-triggers" of your customers is extremely expensive! Well … this is a common misconception. You can find vendors who are not too big and who specialize in catering to small businesses and startups.
Accuracy in Transaction Processing
"First-Time Quality" ( FTQ ) or "Building it Right the First Time" is a very well-known metric in the world of manufacturing and trades. However, it not only applies in manufacturing but also in the service industry. You need to do careful due-diligence and ask probing questions on what processes the vendor uses to ensure accuracy of data – such as error-detecting and error-correcting software or scripts.
Why is FTQ so important for transaction or order processing? The answer is simple: costly. Order-taking involves data-gathering from the customer – name, address, telephone number, shipping address, credit card number, expiration date, CVV code …. The list goes on. An error in any one of the data elements is very costly. You may have to track down the customer, stop a shipment to a wrong address, get the customer to send back wrong shipment, etc, etc.
Ubiquity of Payment Options
Customers need to be provided with "Simplicity" and "Abundance" of payment options. With the ever-evolving world of finance and technology, the choice-set continues to expand:
– Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover)
– Debit Cards
– Electronic Money Transfers / Quick Collect Services
– Money Orders
– Check (by postal mail)
You need to ask your vendor if they will work with you and and help figure out the choices based on your product / service, target market & demographics and cost / revenue trade-offs. Also, your vendor consolidates reporting from various channels of payments enabling clear tracking.
Remember: You are the client. Never be shy to ask questions and do not get overwhelmed by the industry jargon thrown at you.