August 07, 2023 | Supply Chain Software
The factor that separates supply chain leaders from the rest is that they create strategies and processes keeping their customers’ needs as central.
Today’s customers know better, expect better. Supply chain leaders know this. They are also aware of the importance of creating deeper trust and connectedness with the customers. Therefore, offering stellar customer experience has become a priority.
Supply chain leaders are, as such, shifting from a product-based to a people-based or a customer-centric supply chain. A customer-centric supply chain offers profitability and value to both customers and businesses.
Becoming customer-centric is a complex process but allows companies to adapt quickly to changing customer needs, gaining adaptability and resilience. This is crucial due to the high volatility in both demand and supply. To achieve this, companies must gain visibility and understanding of their supply chains to respond effectively and maintain customer satisfaction.
A customer-centric supply chain also ensures that every decision-maker understands the impact of their choices on customer service levels and understands operational dependencies across the supply chain.
Here are five key points to consider while creating a customer-centric supply chain:
High-performing demand planning and forecasting are foundational for creating a customer-centric supply chain. Investing in demand planning software can be helpful here. Such software leverages real-time data with advanced AI and machine learning technology to predict demand with higher accuracy, efficiency and reliability. Access to analytics and insights in real-time enhances the enterprise’s ability to proactively respond and react quickly as issues arise, driving measurable improvements in identifying and mitigating supply chain disruptions. This results in ensuring a sufficient supply of goods is available to customers all the time.
Digital platforms enable real-time data sharing which offers visibility to all parties. This transparency fosters trust and simplifies decision-making processes. Users can access a full set of supplier management tools to share critical information like forecasts, orders and inventory particulars with multi-tiered vendors to obtain commitments in real time — reducing stock levels, maximizing fill rates and boosting customer experience.
Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) or Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR) practices should be implemented with suppliers. CPFR involves combined forecasting and planning between the business and its suppliers. This leads to better inventory alignment and reduced lead times. VMI allows suppliers to monitor inventory levels and proactively replenish stock when needed while reducing the burden on your organization to forecast demand accurately.
Using such collaborative technology, customers can enjoy improved product availability, faster lead times, consistent product quality, enhanced flexibility, reduced risk of stockouts, cost savings and overall enhanced customer service. These benefits translate into reliable access to desired products, quicker order fulfillment, competitive pricing, and smoother interactions with the company, creating a more customer-centric supply chain experience.
A customer-centric supply chain recognizes that each customer has unique preferences and priorities, and offering tailored delivery options caters to those individual needs. Utilize route optimization software to reduce delivery times and provide accurate estimated time of arrival (ETA) to customers. This not only improves the overall customer experience but also minimizes the chances of delivery delays and related complaints. Further, offer flexible delivery choices – give choices like express shipping, specific delivery time slots, same-day or instant delivery options.
Customers want real-time updates on their orders across the order fulfillment process like order confirmation, shipping and delivery times. These updates can be notified via text messages or email. Further, a self-service customer portal can enable customers to track orders and customize delivery preferences. A user-friendly portal enables customers to take control of their deliveries, resulting in increased satisfaction and reduced reliance on customer support for order-related inquiries. Additionally, implementing real-time tracking and monitoring systems in your supply chain allows for end-to-end visibility . By using Internet of Things (IoT) devices and GPS tracking, you can monitor shipments in real time, ensuring that you can proactively address any issues that may arise during transportation.
Cross-team collaboration is essential to create customer-centric supply chains. This is because to ensure a business offers stellar customer experience efforts from all departments is necessary. Regular cross departmental meetings are needed to share and discuss supply chain challenges, market trends and customer insights. This facilitates alignment and ensures all departments aim at the same goal -- meet customer demands effectively. Such collaboration can promote being mindful of the needs and demands of customers and the challenges that arise while them. This creates an agile and responsive supply chain which leads to better experiences for the customers.
Crafting a customer-centric supply chain involves a multifaceted approach that integrates data-driven decision-making, seamless collaboration, personalization, and supply chain visibility. By investing in these actionable strategies, organizations can build a robust supply chain that adapts to customer demands, ensures timely deliveries, and enhances overall customer satisfaction. Embrace customer-centricity as a core philosophy and leverage the power of data and collaboration to create a supply chain that stands out in today's competitive landscape.