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How to Drive Customer Preference Using 6 Supply Chain Strategies (Part II)

Posted by Chuck Fries on Mar 31, 2015 3:28:25 PM

There is no question that there is a fundamental shift going on in technology today. In the first part of this blog posted last week (which you can find here), we took a look at how this shift is impacting the supply chain and causing it to evolve from just an order-taking cost center into a more strategic role in order to drive customer preference. I discussed how Amazon has increased their customer preference and brand loyalty through their evolved supply chain strategies and I included 3 strategies for you to consider if you’re looking to evolve yours. In part two below, I have outlined the remaining 3 strategies to help you build supply chain expertise and gain customer preference.

1.)  Collaborate with your customers. Listening to your customers and spending time understanding their operational pain points strengthens your relationship and can enable sales.  When was the last time your team spent a day in your customer's shoes seeing what it’s like doing business with your company?  When you see how your customer works first hand, you will be amazed by what you learn and can find solutions to the challenges they have with your company’s processes. You may discover new opportunities to eliminate steps in the supply chain, streamline information, or reduce your customer's costs.  These all lead to preference and loyal customers. As a value added distributor, we have expanded our supply chain team capabilities to help our customers with integration services, 3rd party purchasing, end of life support, reverse logistics and more.  These services have increased sales with our customers and provided our supply chain team with more rewarding opportunities.

2.)  Make what customers want to do fast and simple. Because you can find anything and get it in a matter of a few clicks on the internet, customers expect simple and instantaneous transactions. Think about your supply chain and how you can improve your customer’s experience to mirror what you expect in a purchase. How long does it take to do a quote and receive a response?  Do you have inventory available, and how quickly can you ship the goods or provide the services?   Did you provide a commitment on your customer’s order, and do they get automatic updates on the delivery? Is your web site and order process intuitive, or do you need instructions, a call center, or help screens? I strongly believe if you create a process or release a tool, product, or service that requires training or instruction booklets, it’s too hard and your customers will go elsewhere. Keep it fast and simple.

3.)  Continuously evaluate and improve the customer experience.   Your supply chain must include metrics that measure customer satisfaction. Whether its “perfect delivery” to customer request, quote accuracy, and/or speed of delivery from quote to delivery, ensure that each part of your supply chain is looking outwardly at the impact they have on the customer experience. Benchmark competition and set goals and improvement plans to be best in class. Implement reward systems for your teams that include customer centered measurements and encourage your team to eliminate customer issues. Customers expect defect free, predictable performance, at the most competitive cost.  Measuring, rewarding, and continuously improving will keep you ahead of your competition.

If you didn’t have a chance to read part 1 of this blog, you can find that here. Take a look at all 6 supply chain strategies and share them with your team and discuss what areas you can improve on in order to make sure that you are delivering the best customer experience possible.

Tags: Business, Strategy, Supply Chain, Technologies, B2B, Customer Experience, Customers