I’ll introduce this blog post with two well-known facts about customer service today:
1) Customers in every industry are demanding ever-higher levels of service excellence from suppliers.
2) To achieve customer service excellence, companies must fully understand what their customers really want.
The first of these two points is what generates a continuous challenge for supply chain leaders, as customers become more demanding and providers scramble to meet these constantly shifting goals. The second point is the one which all too commonly gets missed by supply chain organisations, resulting in customer dissatisfaction and perhaps even costly rates of attrition.
Sales and Logistics: Better Together
One of the reasons why companies can fail to appreciate what their customers really want is the fact that sales and logistics can often get under each other’s feet. The result is often a mismatch between what the company thinks its customers want and the real factors which constitute service excellence from the customer perspective.
Some supply chain operators are beginning to recognise this fact and address it, leading to meaningful customer service improvements and better progress towards strategic objectives.
How are they doing this?
The answer is not rocket science. These successful companies are finding ways to remove the silos that isolate sales and logistics teams and put the two entities to work in a collaborative environment.
One American company, for example, built an internal team of supply chain consultants, each of whom attends meetings between sales representatives and its customers. These consultants have the task of identifying supply issues from the customers’ perspectives, then finding ways to resolve the issues and add value to the organisation’s service and product offerings through supply chain service excellence.
The success of this venture has been extraordinary. On one sales contract, the company increased sales by 15% while slashing the number of orders handled by 40%, generating revenue and cost benefits for itself and its customer.
Collaboration: The Way to Service Excellence
Supply chain companies that wish to keep up with the increasing demands of customers, will need to make collaborative efforts and put logistics professionals in the field with their sales colleagues. There’s no longer room for the two departments to be strangers. Customer acquisition and retention will continue to get tougher and competition tighter. Those companies which are able to build collaborative processes between logistics, sales, and their customers, are the ones with the brightest future to look forward to.
If you’d like to learn more about topics like customer service and collaboration, there is a ton of knowledge awaiting you at The Supply Chain Leaders Academy. If you’re already enrolled, check out eClass numbers 4, 53, and 102, which are all given over to the subject of customer service excellence in supply chain.