The supply chain is a complex, linear network of businesses that starts with manufacturing and ends at the customer. The customer is the reason the supply chain exists, and the supply chain exists to create and facilitate a growing base of customers. But it’s not all one-way. When a customer places an order, it goes from their end of the chain all the way to the beginning, and depending on what happens between the order being received and your customer receiving their product, it might also be sent back, reversing the flow of the chain entirely.
Customer experience dictates the health of the chain in one direction, which can in turn affect the sustained health and maintenance of the network and system balance going the other way. Therefore, by enhancing your customer experience, you enhance the overall health and wellness of the supply chain.
And here are a few ways to do just that:
The supply chain has remained a taxing mystery for consumers for too long. They want to know where their products come from, who’s making them, and where in the process from manufacturing to shipment their goods are at. If you know, they should know, and you can show them with integrated package tracking, shipment updates and an overall insight into how your link in the chain matters to their final delivery. Knowledge is invaluable. Customers will feel empowered knowing everything that’s happening, and could even show more tolerance towards delays.
Same-day shipping has become normal. Amazon has the game solved in that regard, and the ability for regional sellers to compete with it is nearly non-existent. Same-day shipping is still possible. It requires having a large stock of a wide range of diverse products already on shelves and ready to ship at a moment’s notice. Getting local shipping, small box cars or even private shipping personnel involved to handle same-day deliveries to local areas can bring an edge back to the market.
Be Cost Effective
There’s nothing that catches a customer’s eye like a price tag when they’re shopping. Now, with the advent of factory-direct shipping and drop-sites that allow people to buy directly from warehouses without retail mark-ups, prices can be hard to beat. If you try to compete directly by lowering prices too much, you’ll lose money. But you also lose money by holding onto unsellable inventory, right? There are other ways to manage cost for the customer benefit. Offer incentives, extras and cost-saving options such as warranties or bulk deals to get more products out with services attached which wholesalers can’t offer.
In order to service customers and utilise their input on how their experience is affected by the supply chain you manage, you need to listen to them… and we mean really listen, and find practical ways of gathering the data you need to learn from them. Some data gathering can be done automatically or remotely, passive data from past orders and spending habits which can then be used to form predictive models so you can feel safe knowing what customers will probably do next. Or, if you have a lower but higher-powered customer base, you can ask them directly - what part of your service gives them the confidence to stick with you?
Technology has continued to grow and spread throughout the world and is directly tied to the supply chain dynamics as a whole. The days of paper ledgers and manual box counts are mostly gone, it’s all automated or digitally assisted. Automation is the next big step forward for the sake of ease and convenience for warehouses and logistics. Direct-to-customer feedback options also exist, allowing feedback to come at the touch of a button, or live over-the-road tracking with GPS. Get involved in new technologies that better serve your customers and therefore your Bottom Line!
If a vendor or shipment company fails you, what can you do? The network is set together and there’s no breaking out of the chain. But, a flexible supply chain - which has multiple solutions to any given problem - can get over this and provide a much smoother transferral of responsibilities in an emergency. Shipping companies have continued to struggle to fill demands, resulting in delays or slow deliveries. Going for new companies, additional workforce, or just enabling more option-centric contracts in the first place means more options for shipping so that crunch time never comes. If one chain gets stuck, you can just flex over to a new one that isn’t.
Customer loyalty comes from the dedicated effort that gets put into making every delivery part of a routine that can be depended on. Set schedules and keep them, customers will be doing the same. Meet their expectations and they will feel like everything is going right. Exceed those expectations, and that becomes a new expectation to always be improving, which isn’t possible for very long. If you plan on making new plans that break the established mould with shipments or systems or technology, let the customer know what the new normal will be like so they can be prepared.
Need some help?
We know the importance of implementing proper CX solutions into your supply chain operations, but we also know how tricky and time-consuming this can be.
If you want to chat to one of our solutions experts, you can reach out anytime here:
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