We talk a lot about inefficiencies, naturally. Nearly every day, we find ourselves frustrated by the time spent on manual processes, overflowing with paperwork and far too much room for error.
As an avid online shopper, I have come across a fair share of poorly managed processes: being notified of an out of stock product weeks after I had already paid for the item, receiving only one piece of a two part item, and even being charged twice. However, there is one company that has never failed me, and that is Zappos, the online shoe turned clothing and accessories retailer that often boasts free overnight shipping. Even when the free shipping is listed as two-to-three day, more than likely Zappos upgrades the order. Many a morning, I have sat in amazement as a small white box is delivered, dumbfounded because I just placed the order yesterday afternoon. Zappos, “Powered by Service”. Without a doubt, their customer service is impeccable, but this service has to be backed by clearly defined, extremely efficient, processes.
Given that Zappos has leveraged process automation to such a high capacity, it enables the retailer to focus less on process execution and more on executing business and directing attention to customer service. According to last week’s press release,
Zappos.com integrates [Working Capital Management] principles into training so employees understand the impact of working capital on overall profitability. The company also seeks to eliminate paper and manual processing by working closely with suppliers to deploy automation across the source-to-payment process.
The Zappos customer service experience is undeniably seamless and integrated. Is this online retailer the low cost provider? No. However, customers are willing to pay for a smooth and seemingly effortless transaction that even provides free returns for up to 365 days. The supply chain cycle has to be short here and, therefore, there is little to no room for error. Can you imagine if Zappos didn’t automate their processes? Those shoes you ordered today for the awards banquet tomorrow may show up by Labor Day, if you are lucky. By using automation throughout the supply chain, paper-based, manual processing is eliminated – and the end result is a satisfied, repeat customer. Today’s customer is a conscious consumer and superior service may be the key to success in the current market. Time and execution have gone from being important to being imperative.
There is always room for improvement and processes are no exception. By making incremental changes – starting small and automating one process at a time – companies are able to fully understand advanced process automation and experience significant progress. Zappos is a poster child for integrating technology into the workplace and BPM can be a valuable asset for simple business processes and department workflows.
Marketing & PR Specialist