GOOD QUESTION: What’s your best customer service tip for supply chain stakeholders?
What’s the secret to pleasing customers, whether they’re consumers, your partners, or other supply chain stakeholders? These industry insiders offer their best advice.
Determine what’s in and what’s out of scope on any business transaction. Frequently, customers are lost because they had unrealistic expectations, usually for something that was out of scope. Setting expectations up front and with all parties will lead to better outcomes and ultimately, greater customer satisfaction.
Begin your partnership with open communication. Setting expectations and key performance indicators from the beginning allows you to ensure goals are met and more easily measure performance. These can be revisited quarterly as your business evolves.
SVP, Sales, Parcel & Managed Transportation
Procure a quarter zip or polo with each of your customers’ logos on it. Put them on whenever you’re handling that customer’s freight. You can’t afford to treat your stakeholders’ business as if it’s anything other than your own. Their vendors are your vendors. Their KPIs are your KPIs. Their success is your success.
Director of Operations
Help them help themselves. Doing business by email and phone no longer suffices. By empowering customers to do more themselves, like get quotes, track shipments, and pay online, you elevate the customer experience.
Keep your commitments by managing customer expectations and providing transparency into production, supplier capacity, and inventory. Technology like automated order promising, for example, enables successful customer service, taking the guesswork out of order evaluation and multi-echelon inventory optimization. It ensures products are where they need to be—at appropriate times.
Provide accurate, realistic lead times for orders, be highly responsive, and understand stakeholder requests. Visibility is key as businesses tackle supply chain issues, including shifting demand, labor shortages, and evolving structural and geopolitical factors.
Vice President & Supply Chain Lead North
Offer services proactively to differentiate your offering, as opposed to waiting for the customer to drive conversations around supplier relationship management, visibility, collaboration on pricing, timing, contract length, etc. Suppliers can offer those services proactively as a differentiated service.
Senior Director of Supply Chain Solutions
First, understand your total delivered cost. Next, having clear metrics on which dollars drive incremental service and better execution is key. Lastly, avoid silos by having shared goals and projects among your supply chain leaders.
President and Co-Founder
Make it easy for stakeholders to share their requirements; monitor your supply chain for availability; be ready to find alternate suppliers at a moment’s notice; and make internal purchasing easy. We don’t usually view supply chain processes through the lens of customer service, but we should. Internal customers need access to goods and services essential to running a business.
SVP and Head of Marketing and Solutions
SAP Business Network
Offer detailed, real-time, honest communication. Ensure accuracy when setting up and dispatching orders and provide updates. Be honest about what is going on—fake excuses are easy to see through and hurt your credibility.
Director of Sales for Permanent Transportation Logistics Services
Listen with the intent to understand, not respond. Having empathy for your peers and customers will support better outcomes.
–Matt Reddington, CPSM, CPM
Make sure your team is satisfied with the roles they play. Your workforce is as important as any other component of the process (trucks, materials, etc). Viewing them this way and keeping them engaged is an integral part of success.
Strategic Account Executive
Leverage the power of data to drive actions that balance cost and service level. Sophisticated providers can deliver data insights that empower shippers. With a data-driven supply chain profile, shippers can challenge providers to identify opportunities that leverage their shipment volumes to everyone’s benefit.
Chief Procurement Officer
Examine the entire customer journey throughout your supply chain from end to end. Focusing on just a single piece of customer service along the way could prevent you from enhancing the overall experience.
Vice President, Customer Experience
Be upfront. With today’s supply chain challenges, being upfront about inventory, shipping timelines, and other order needs is only going to make for a stronger partnership in the future. Building and maintaining trust through frequent touch points can help suppliers address challenges early and anticipate customer needs.
SVP, Barcode and Point-of-Sale
Implement cohesive processes that meet customer expectations, while investing in better network design and data systems to drive a streamlined user experience. The current omnichannel revolution impacts all parts of the supply chain, with consumer behavior evolving to expect a frictionless brand experience wherever they shop.
Embrace collaboration and open communication with your customers. Having customers at the center of your execution strategy ensures not only their needs are met but also opens the gate for knowledge and mindshare, lending way to potential new innovations to offer.
–Dr. Thomas Evans
When you make a mistake, own it. Commit to resolving it and educate your team to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Trade Tech Inc.
Supply chain stakeholders need to gain transparency across their supply chains. Getting customers what they want, when they want, and how they want cannot be achieved without transparency across all the stores, distribution centers, production facilities, and broader vendor and supplier network.
Industry & Solutions Marketing Director
Over communicate. Supply chain has always been challenging due to its dynamic nature and number of touch points from beginning to end. Today’s environment layers in even more complexity from global challenges. Now, more than ever, over-communication between and across stakeholders is necessary to maintain strong customer service.
VP, Supply Chain Solutions
Offer speed, value, quality, and transparency all at the same time. Your customers are your business. If you are too consumed with the bottom line today, you may not have a business tomorrow.
President of Consumer Services
Montway Auto Transport
Find ways to make the right information more transparent and readily available to the customer, as well as across the internal teams that support them. Supply chain professionals are more pressed for time than ever before, so it’s critical to not slow them down.
VP, CX Strategy & Research
If you don’t do it, your competition will.
Director of Warehouse Operations
Eliminate as many manual processes as possible from your business model. Automation will allow you to go direct and gain visibility throughout your supply chain, helping to eliminate delays. As a result, you can deliver to your clients faster and communicate effectively at all times regarding their delivery status.
Professionalism, positive attitude, honesty, and detail. I believe you must show these things in some form for the best customer service.
Use composite digital twin technology to unleash the power of data across your entire supply chain to deliver breakthrough digital transformation for your business. This will turn your supply chain complexity into a competitive advantage that will enable exponentially more benefits for your customers.
Providing supply chain workers straight-forward, easy-to-use technology to help expedite manual processes gives them additional time to focus on the customer. Automating manual processes also helps to cut back on errors, creating less headaches for you and your customers.
Brother Mobile Solutions
A prompt and honest response with a genuine willingness to be of help. Everyone is busy these days, and when someone is willing to give me an opportunity, the first thing I must do is acknowledge the request and assure this customer they made the correct decision. I must enforce the feeling that this is a helpful and beneficial relationship, able to identify the stakeholders’ needs and offer attractive solutions.
Quality Systems Engineer