Focus On: Improving customer service in the Food & Beverage Industry

food and beverage industry

With rising competition within the sector, it has become the main aim of Food & Beverage companies to use customer service to elevate themselves above the rest. Find out how you can do that by reading on...

The Food & Beverage Industry is completely unique in its position in the B2B world; it is the only example where globalisation has yet to truly affect it. While the biggest brands in the industry such as Nestle retain a huge percentage, the mass majority of the market is made up of smaller, locally-concentrated companies.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a fast-moving marketplace, and one that has seen vast technological development completely change things, just like so many other industries. The Food & Beverage sector is under constant pressure to innovate, to reduce costs, to compete with supermarkets or to supply supermarkets while keeping up with their consumer demand.

As well as all these factors, you must maintain a high level of customer service at every touchpoint, but this can be difficult to achieve if you have a costly, integrated and complicated online presence. With this in mind, there are a few key points which you need to keep high on your list of business objectives when choosing your eCommerce platform:
  
A quick-paced marketplace

We’ve just talked about how rapid a sector the Food & Beverage market is, so what does this mean for your customer service and platform? There are a few vital functionality issues which should be addressed if you’re going to maintain those high standards; firstly, you should allow the customer to order around the clock, as well as access their information in a 24/7, easy-to-navigate environment. Ultimately, offering this always-online portal is incredibly important for both you and the consumer; one thing that the modern B2B consumer likes is to remain in control, so if you give them the ability to handle their account, check delivery schedules, print off invoices and so forth, they will look at you as a hassle-free supplier. 

Secondly, part of streamlining your business is identifying those places where you’re leaking unnecessary resources – you don’t want to spend a fortune on call centres when you can cut back on the types of calls you’re getting. The majority will be about order statuses, changing account details and so on, so if you can cut this down by empowering the customer, it boosts efficiency, heightens staff productivity, and of course it improves the customer’s experience with you.

Finally, in this constantly changing market, you need to utilise the technological advancements we mentioned before, as they can go a long way to improving brand loyalty. If you use your eCommerce solution to its full potential, at no extra cost you can drastically improve your marketing via the inclusion of tailored content, your advertising via the placement of personalised items and your ROI in the process. These elements play a key part in ensuring the simplicity of the consumer journey, and hence, the likelihood of a repeat customer. A huge part of adapting your business to a fast-paced environment is finding issues like these and solving them – your platform can help you do this!

Help the customer, don’t hinder them 

Another part of improving customer service in this industry involves looking at the more detailed elements of your eCommerce offering – delivery scheduling is a great example. Offering the customer accurate information about the logistical side of what they do is incredibly important, and if you can offer them a variety of delivery slots to suit their needs, as well as order tracking which is something many customers will simply expect because of their B2C experiences, you can put yourself above the competition.

Similarly, information about lead times, stock levels and order cut-off points are all areas where you can demonstrate the same attention to detail and the same personalisation that will run in your favour. It is crucial in most industries, but in an industry such as the Food & Beverage sector where items can have a limited shelf-life or need to be handled in a particular manner, this becomes a top priority. These factors enhance the need for accurate, real-time information taken from SAP to be the information delivered to the user, which is why your eCommerce solution should reflect that.

Never forget that the first rule of any business is to help the customer, so your online portal should make everything as easy as possible for them. Making ordering simplistic can seem like a challenge when you have repeat orders, favourite lists, shopping list and so on to balance, but by implementing the ability for them to build wish lists and intelligent search capabilities, you can make this a hassle-free experience for your team as well as the customer.

Another example of this is when showing “related products” – this may increase order value for you, but can also be seen as a big positive from the customer, who was about to forget to order something they really needed – it was your informative portal that helped them, and they won’t forget that connection. The added plus to this would be that you’ve completed the order in one delivery as well, rather than making two to the same customer.

Conclusion

The Food & Beverage marketplace is only set to increase due to population rises and developed countries becoming wealthier, so these are the kinds of challenges you need to overcome now. While your competition is playing catch-up, you’re already reaping the rewards of an ever-growing industry, but in order to achieve this you must look at your platform from a consumer perspective. 

No one knows your industry better than you, so ask yourself: “What would I want when approaching this website?” If you don’t know, ask your customer! Simple questions or vote topics posted on social media will often get a huge response, and provides you with valuable market research for next to nothing. Customer service has never been more important in this industry, and with the right solution, it has never been easier to deliver.

If you’d like to learn how our eCommerce solution can help your manufacturing business to thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace, then visit our homepage or get in touch