Benjamin Allen, Associate Consultant at HSO, takes a look at the challenges wholesale customer account management poses to many retailers and explains how the combination of Dynamics 365 functionality and HSO’s Business Platform can transform this often arduous process into an automated systematic approach.
Wholesale customer account management poses many challenges to retailers. The creation of wholesale customer accounts for B2B requires the collaboration of multiple departments from across the business; including sales, wholesale, customer service and finance. These departments operate together through an onboarding process which requires multiple updates and the passing of information. At each stage, action is required from relevant personnel, and if this process is manually managed through emails or phone calls it leaves much room for error. Retailers can overcome this challenge by using a combination of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations functionality, such as ‘case management’, ‘templates’ and ‘alerts’, which will assist with the passing of information between departments. In addition to this, HSO’s Business Platform provides ‘blocking reasons’ and ‘business rules’ functionality to ensure that the correct business practice is adopted.This blog will outline a typical wholesale customer account management scenario to highlight the benefits offered by this functionality.A salesman has found a new customer and initiated the onboarding process by taking the customer order. Firstly, the customer account must be created in Dynamics 365 which allows for sales order generation. Using a predefined ‘template’ the salesman can quickly get past the account creation process and proceed with taking the order.The order is placed by a German customer, so in this case, the salesman can select the German template to allow for the customer form to be populated with predefined data, such as the appropriate tax rate or customer language. Auto filling certain fields within the customer form prevents user mistakes and speeds up the account creation process. The sales order is then created for the customer to place demand.Via ‘business rules’ which provide a status on the account, an ‘alert’ flag is configured to inform the finance team of a new account. ‘Business rules’ can be set in a sequence of steps to mimic a business process, so in our example, the next stage of the process is to set the status to ‘awaiting credit check’. ‘Business rules’ also drive data input, so until the required information is completed on the account, finance are unable to progress the account through to the next stage.While processing, an automated ‘blocking reason’ is set on the customer to prevent the sales order from being dispatched until the credit check is deemed correct. Following the acceptance of the credit check, the ‘blocking reason’ can be lifted to allow for the sales order to be processed.

Note: Sales orders can be blocked at many stages in an outbound process such as; ‘order generation’, ‘allocation’, ‘sending a pick’, ‘picking stock’ or ‘dispatch’.

Once the account has been signed off by finance, it is passed on to the customer service team for review. At this stage, all the required information has been entered and the ‘business rule’ is changed to ‘customer service review’.

Note: Business rules are fully configurable allowing for as many rules as required to be defined. They also host further functionality than what is being described in this guide such as security and roles integration.

Additional information is added to the customer account such as address details and contact information. A member of the customer service team notices that an incorrect email address has been entered and using ‘case management’ raises a case to update the account with the correct email address and assigns this to the salesman’s user ID. The ‘alter’ displays a notification on the salesman’s account who then promptly updates the customer account with the correct information. The status of the account can now be moved to ‘active’. Further management of ‘business rules’ can be used to block and unblock customer accounts in multiple ways. Status loops allow for a user to cycle from an ‘active’ account to a blocked account at any time following the creation of the account.

The above example highlights some of the challenges faced by retailers who rely on a manual management of this process, in the absence of ‘blocking’ functionality sales orders can be processed and sent to customers bypassing the credit check stage. Accounts may be created with incorrect or missing data, creating problems at a later stage for other departments.

The combination of Dynamics 365 functionality and HSO’s Business Platform allows for this somewhat arduous paper or email based process to be replaced by an automated systematic approach which ensures that the correct information is passed on and the right employees can be alerted to new or changed information.