Customer Service for Distribution

December 5, 2022 Kayla Rohde

An industry that has been widely jumping into the Dynamics 365 pool is the Distribution industry.  At Western Computer, our team works with various types of distributors, but what does that mean?  We work with distributors who sell to wholesalers, retailers, and/or end consumers.  With the advent of the internet and digital market places, distribution to end consumers has become a common use case we're asked to help support.  This blog takes a look at how some of the common uses of Dynamics 365 Customer Service can be applied to distribution needs.  

From a 10k foot view, Customer Service provides the following features: 

  1. Track & Manage Different Account Types 
  2. Organize & Route Inquiries 
  3. Track & Manage Inquiry Resolution  
  4. Use Consistent Communications for Common Inquiries 

While these features could be beneficial to any industry, let's take a closer look at how these specific features could be beneficial for the Distribution Industry. 

Track & Manage Different Account Types 

Depending on the type of distribution an organization does, there are numerous different types of accounts beyond "customers" that need to be tracked.  Customer Service provides the ability to categorize accounts and track different information about said accounts as needed.  

For example, perhaps a distribution company works with wholesalers and retailers.  The account form could provide key contacts, organizational shipping and billing information as well as notes about interactions with the account or its contacts.  A salesperson might be actively working to broker deal with a wholesaler for a more exclusive discount on products, and a Customer Service Rep who receives an inquiry from the wholesaler about a billing issue can see the interactions between the Sales Rep and wholesaler to aid in resolving the billing issue. 

For direct-to-consumer distributors, the customer profile is highly important to customer service as this can provide a customer service rep insight into upsells or recommendations to make to the customer.  For example, if the customer is accruing points with in-home purchases of a specific product and they call in with a question about making a new purchase, the Customer Service rep can view the Customer profile and provide recommendations on using the points to discount a purchase or suggest similar products often purchased with the product in question. 

Organize and Route Inquiries 

While the Account information is key to having relevant information in one place, the true meat and potatoes of Customer Service resides within its case management features.  Case organization and routing functionality in Dynamics 365 Customer Service can eliminate the need to color code emails sent to a shared inbox.  Likewise, uncertainty about whether or not an email inquiry has been worked by a team member can go out the door.  

With Customer Service, emails sent to Customer Service or other departments within a Distribution organization can be converted to cases and organized in a queue to be worked by one or more individuals.  If a case lands in the wrong queue, routing logic in the system can be setup to get the case into the hands of the appropriate responsible resource for review.     

For distributors who work with wholesalers and retailers, separate teams might handle inquiries for each type of business partner.  Additionally, high priority wholesalers might receive a higher standard of care and faster response time by being routed to a High Priority queue were only the most experienced Customer Service Reps work cases.  

Track and Manage Inquiry Resolution 

Once a case is in the right hands, Customer Service provides further tools to aid in tracking the case to resolution.  Service Leve Agreements can be put in place to ensure customers receive a case response within a certain amount of time. Depending on the priority of the Case Customer, the case response required could be 2 hours or 24 hours.   

Along with SLA's to aid in tracking case resolution, other features to aid in resolving a case include a standard case timeline and Microsoft Teams Integration.  The case timeline provides a summary of all the activities taken on a case from emails to phone calls.  Thereby providing a Customer Service Rep with visibility to any actions a team member took before the case made its way to them.  With Teams integration, a Customer Service Rep can start a conversation with a team member, a group of individuals, or post to a team's channel to get help in resolving an issue. The integration allows chats to be created and saved within the Customer Service application.   

A direct-to -consumer distributor might have a case routed to customer service requesting assistance with access to the customer's online order history.  If there's a technical issue, the Customer Service Rep might need to connect with a member of the IT Team to resolve the problem.  A Teams chat can be started with a group of IT professionals or a specific individual where the case and its content can be shared with the aiding team member.  In another place and time, that chat might have been a walk across the office to the IT department or a series of emails passed from one IT Team member to another.  With the dawning of the work from home age, walking across the office might not be feasible, and nobody wants to have a string of emails just to find someone who is available to solve a problem.   Customer Service integrated with Microsoft teams makes the customer's issue resolution an easier and more streamlined process. 

Use Consistent Communication for Common Inquiries 

There's more? Of course, there's more! The system can create and route inquiries to the right team.  It even provides the best tools to make solving an inquiry as easy as possible, but beyond that, it also provides the ability to create and maintain consistency in communication.   

Whether a distributor has a common email sent to wholesalers after a larger order over a certain volume is placed, a knowledgebase article is provided to customers who have profile access issues, or an internal team member needs to read directions on how to process retailers latest order, Customer Service provides the tools for consistent, repeatable responses.   

Email templates are standard functionality for the system.  An inquiry about a profile login can be replied to with a standard email providing instructions, or an inquiry about placing an order might be replied to with a standard communication providing guidance to access the website and navigate the order experience.   

Knowledgebase articles go hand in hand with email templates and can be referenced in templates.  These articles can be used internally or externally.  Internal use means a new customer service rep can find content about how to perform a process the same way a senior rep does. At the end of the day, the consistency creates a reliable and helpful experience for the wholesaler, retailer, or end customer in need of assistance. 

Clearly, the Customer Service platform has features that can change the customer service game for a distributor.  The solution is scalable and customizable to fit specific business needs.  Whether your organization is a direct to consumer distributor or an international distributor working with wholesalers and retailers, the system can help your organization make an impact in the lives of your partners and customers.   

If you'd like to have a discussion about how your distribution organization could benefit from a Customer Service solution, connect with one of our team members. 

About the Author

Kayla Rohde

As a Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Consultant for Western Computer, Kayla’s passions are using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform technology to enhance business operations and working hand-in-hand with clients to achieve their digital transformation goals. Kayla also enjoys uncovering and solving client needs. With every client engagement, her primary goal is to add value–whether troubleshooting a login issue or launching a new enterprise system.

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