Supply Chain: The surprising—or maybe not so-surprising—link to customer satisfaction

According to recent research from Gartner, only 27% of companies believe they offer superior service to their competitors, even though improving the customer experience is a priority for many CEOs. So where are CEOs looking for improved customer service?

The supply chain.

“The supply chain organization typically plays a secondary role to marketing in driving customer experience strategy,” according to Gartner research director Lisa Callinan.  And while marketing certainly has a leading role, it is one that doesn’t supersede substance. The supply chain is all about substance, which is leading to change in forward-thinking organizations, “because the supply chain is uniquely placed to identify customers’ needs and drive better customer experiences,” Callinan continued.

Because of its role, supply chain touches nearly every aspect of an organization. And, with that sort of reach, those who are part of the supply chain are in an excellent position to collaborate and improve customer experience.

According to Callinan, many leading companies (Amazon and Apple to name two) already use supply chain expertise to enhance their customers’ experience. She says that even in the simplest terms, customers are influenced by their experience with the supply chain. “It’s easy to see that a late delivery can disappoint, whereas an expedited delivery can delight,” she says.

Interestingly, while logistics and customer service tend to experience the largest volume of customer interactions, far too many organizations haven’t figured out how to derive more value from these functions. But, with the right technology, the supply chain can create a seamless customer experience because of the many touchpoints along the way. Additionally, those insights gleaned along the way can lead to new opportunities with the same customer.

If only 27% of CEOs think their companies offer superior service, imagine how those numbers would jump if all companies really leveraged each opportunity along the supply chain way to improve the customer’s experience.

“The coordination role for the supply chain will assume much greater importance as advanced analytics and digital supply chain capabilities become mainstream,” says Callinan. “Organizations will increasingly use technology in this way to empower their customer-facing staff, and to measure, improve and personalize many aspects of the customer experience.”

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