Parts of the supply chain to focus on for happy customers.

What pops into your mind when you hear the words supply chain management?  For some it might be the steps taken to turn raw materials into a product on the shelves.  Others could add a little more to the definition and say that SCM is also the software and technology needed to make sure said merchandise goes from a number of separate materials to a product everyone will want to buy.  If you are in the just in time production business, managing the supply chain starts the moment a client places an order, then it continues to the company getting the raw material needed to fulfill the request, and finally shipping the product to the customer.  All of these are pretty fair concepts and applications of supply chain management.

There is something, however, that probably does not jump out at us immediately.  Think a little more.  Great supply chain management has a strong possibility to lead to high levels of customer satisfaction.  Happy customers bring in more business, new and return.  Keeping in mind this fact could help supply chain managers come up with better and more efficient strategies to make sure customers are as satisfied as possible.  Here are three things any supply chain manager or director should concentrate on if they want to satisfy clients and keep them that way for years to come.

  1.    Keep close tabs on stock

Having control of your company’s inventory is by far not the most glamorous part of the supply chain process.  Let’s be honest.  Keeping inventory is a grueling task.  This goes for people new to the industry all the way up to seasoned veterans.  However tedious it may be, managing inventory is a crucial part of SCM.  Having a large surplus of stock on hand could lead to products becoming obsolete and therefore losses.  Not having enough on hand to satisfy customer needs will eventually lead to losses if it becomes something common.  Supply chain managers must use all their knowledge and technology available (and which adapts to the company’s infrastructure) to ensure inventory is never out of control and that there is product movement instead of dust collection.

Analytics play an important role in handling inventory on all stages.  Sales figures, seasonal orders, monthly sales analysis.  These are just some of the things that need to be sorted out and looked at carefully.  Doing so will help managers decide the best moment to have more stock and which are better to lower production.  A customer who can always find what he or she needs starts to establish a bond of trust with a company.  This trust brings the company to the front of the customer’s mind when it comes to ordering something that he or she needs and your company offers it.

David Kiger recommends you check out the post “A practical guide to improving your inventory management” to get some advice on how to improve how your company goes about its inventory.

david kiger_supply chain management
Image courtesy of wistechcolleges at Flickr.com
  1.    Optimize processes to reduce delivery time

Supply chain optimization is another key cog in the customer satisfaction machine. Supply chain managers must always be up to speed with the latest practices and theories on how to reduce such things as:

  •         Manufacturing times
  •         Shipping times
  •         Production costs

Being as efficient as possible will allow customers to get what they need faster and at a better cost than what the competition can offer them.  Now we have a second factor that could increase customer satisfaction.  Customers who can have an affordable, high-quality product which arrives faster than any other provider will always have a smile on their face. Add this to the trust generated by always having stock and your supply chain management strategy is poised to create way more satisfied customers.

  1.    Allow tracking on your clients’ orders

The last item on the list might be something taken for granted a lot of times.  Let your clients know where their order is and offer an estimate into how long it will take for them to have that new toy or best-seller in their hands.  Tracking is a great way to boost customer satisfaction because it creates credibility.  Companies give customers estimates into how long a product takes to ship and arrive at clients’ doors.  Tracking is the way that customers prove that a company is serious about getting the product to him or her as soon as possible and as a bonus it allows companies to analyze which part of the shipping process can be improved or who to talk to in case something goes wrong along the way.

Three parts of the supply chain process, from beginning to end, that will help boost and solidify customer satisfaction.  The customer should always be the priority of any company.  It’s cliché we know.  You would be surprised at how many companies take this for granted.  If a company’s supply chain management is aimed at making sure the customer obtains great quality at fair prices and in relatively quick time, you can bet business will be booming.

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