The importance of customer satisfaction in global supply chain management

Jonas Mehrhoff

No matter how skilled your team is, or how meticulously planned your system might be, your organization depends on your customer’s satisfaction. A 2019 Gartner survey of supply chain leaders found that, “more than 60% said that their most important priority was to develop customer experience metrics and integrate them across all business units.” These numbers reflect the level at which your company operates. Does your organization live up to the expectations of today’s customer? Explore why your customers’ satisfaction is so important for a successful supply chain and how to reach the standard your customers expect.

Understanding your customer and their requirements

Apart from using modern technology and tools to ensure satisfied customers, a vital element in achieving customer satisfaction in global supply chains is understanding your customer’s requirements. Companies need to understand how their customers think and what they expect, be agile enough to react timeously, and handle the customer’s requirements efficiently. It is also important to understand who your customer is, whether they are big retailers, small to medium companies, or individuals being served via e-commerce and Omni-channels. To understand your customer is to put yourself in their position, from purchasing to receiving. What do they expect? How long is this demographic typically willing to wait for a delivery? How integrated do they need to be in the shipping journey? These questions are vital in building a solid profile of your customer and tailoring your processes to fit their specific needs.

Great customer service leads to highest customer satisfaction, but many companies do not realize the importance or the connection between customer service and supply chain management. There is a misconception that customer satisfaction in supply chain is mainly related to delivery. While it’s true that most customers are mainly concerned with last mile delivery, supply chain leaders must take control of every step leading up to that point to ensure a seamless process. It is important to understand that a global supply chain encompasses many steps including procurement, manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation, all of which have a customer satisfaction aspect. By integrating world-class customer service into their logistics and supply chain operations, companies can achieve highest customer satisfaction and even exceed customer expectations.

The six key elements within a global supply chain that affect customer satisfaction

There are six vital factors in a global supply chain that are critical to look at and influences customer satisfaction:

  1. Responsiveness relates to the timely communication with the customer, whether about a problem or communicate about successful delivery. Responsiveness is a key elemental that directly correlates with customer experience and overall satisfaction.  
  1. Innovation and digitization work to improve systems that have historically failed to run efficiently, ultimately creating roadblocks that deter your organization from providing timely, seamless delivery. Prioritizing this element will result in smoother operations internally as well as a happy end customer.  
  1. Integration of various stakeholders such as upstream and downstream suppliers in the global supply chain allows the effective management of a customer’s expectation leading to customer satisfaction.
  1. Supply chain analytics can identify any historical problems in meeting customer expectations and set corrective measures to improve future deliveries. Analytics also allows the company to establish high standards of performance to address the customer’s expectations adequately.
  1. By adopting a customer-centric culture as one of the core values and KPIs in employee performance, companies can ensure customer satisfaction by truly understanding the customers’ needs and expectations.
  1. End-to-end visibility plays a vital role in enhancing customer satisfaction value as the customer can see for themselves the status of their shipments and that the company is genuine in its efforts to provide quality service and customer satisfaction.

What it takes to achieve customer satisfaction

The epitome of customer satisfaction in supply chain is quite simple: the ability to deliver the product to the customer at the correct place, at the correct time, in the correct quantity, and at the correct price. So, why are so many companies missing the mark? Studies find that approximately 75 billion US dollars are lost every year due to poor customer satisfaction. This doesn’t end at a customer taking their business elsewhere, it spans across bad online reviews, word of mouth, and more. So, what can you do to relieve this strain on your organization?  

The two most important elements of customer satisfaction from a customer’s standpoint are efficient updates and timely delivery. An efficient global supply chain operation must be able to achieve both, to ultimately provide customer satisfaction. Using modern technologies like a digital  supply chain platform that provides full visibility into all facets of a global supply chain , companies can improve significantly delivery times, proactively manage inventory, reduce costs by a double-digit percentage, and provide timely shipment updates, all of which will contribute to customer satisfaction and increased sales. Coupled with the six elements above, it’s clear that supply chain leaders must invest in technology and tailor their operations to fit their specific customers’ needs.  

Conclusion

One of the key objectives of global supply chain management is to create happy and satisfied customers by seamlessly incorporating all involved processes. A customer-centric global supply chain provides the customer with the visibility they can trust at every stage, making them feel emersed in the process, able to check on their goods every step of the way. As demands of customers are constantly changing, global supply chains must be agile, sustainable, and responsive, especially in the current dynamic and competitive supply chain landscape. Technology like digital supply chain platforms plays a very important role in ensuring that all stakeholders in the chain are aligned and everyone works towards to goal to create a world-class customer experience. Through collaboration and integration, companies can create significant value for their customers and respond to their needs in time, which will lead to enhanced customer satisfaction.

If you work with global supply chains, here are ways we can help you gain full control and visibility over your shipments.
If you’re operating with spreadsheets and disparate sources of data, learn more about how a digital platform can provide you with supply chain visibility in this free guide.
If you’d like to learn more about how to leverage your ERP with a supply chain platform, check out our free guide.
For more supply chain best practices, visit our resources page.  
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