The Critical Role of The Supply Chain in Customer Satisfaction
We live in a time where nothing is ever quick enough. We want faster computers, faster service, and quicker responses from everyone for everything. We expect when we click the “proceed with payment” button on our computer that the doorbell should immediately be ringing with the products we ordered.
Are the expectations unrealistic, or just the world we now live in? I would say a bit of both, but the real key is: How can companies meet and exceed the high demands of the consumer while developing loyalty in the process? One way is to examine the relationship between the supply chain and the customer.
Customers come in two forms. The first is a direct consumer, someone who orders a product and has it shipped to them directly (consumer direct). The other customer someone who buys your product to sell through a retail outlet. They have similar, but different, challenges.
How to Increase Satisfaction of Direct Customers
To increase customer satisfaction with the consumer direct, there are many things that can be done, including:
- Simplifying your web site. Customers don’t want to have to do a lot of work to buy a product from your website. They want to find what they’re looking for without needing to do a lot of research. If they can navigate your website and order items with ease, there’s a good chance that they’ll return to your site again in the future.
- Deliver what you promise. If you say an order will arrive in two days, then it should arrive in two days—not three or four days. According to one survey, 69 percent of respondents are less likely to shop with a retailer in the future if a purchase is not delivered within 2 days of the date promised when the order is placed. Late deliveries decrease the chance that a customer will return to the web site, so it’s important that you don’t over-commit if you can’t perform.
- Stay on top of your inventory. There’s nothing worse than wanting to order an item, only to be told that it will take 8–10 days due to stock outage. It will cause your customers to go elsewhere for what they want, causing you business and money. To have a more reliable flow of inventory and stock, you’ll need to better understand your buyers’ patterns: What time of year does business pick up, when does it slow down, and when do you need to really crank out the goods? Ultimately, this means that you need to analyze your metrics and KPIs.
How to Increase Satisfaction in Retail Customers
When it comes to retail customers, your challenges are going to be similar, yet different—supplying a retail store isn’t quite the same as supplying goods to a direct consumer. Here are some ways you can boost your retail customer satisfaction with your goods:
- Remember that retailers want quality customer service too. You are probably used to supplying quality customer service to direct consumers: You know that that’s what is expected. As the saying goes, “The customer is king.” But if you’re working to supply retailers, you need to remember that they expect the same levels of customer service as you would supply to a direct customer.
- Reduce your total order cycle time. The window of opportunity for a retailer is smaller than for an on-line purchase because there is a much shorter window to sell their products at full retail value before they need to mark things down to keep fresh inventory on hand. To capitalize on the fickle needs and desires of the customer, which are forever changing, retailers need to get the products that customers want as quickly as possible. Reducing your total order cycle time will help you get orders to your retail customers when they want and need them, increasing their chances of making money and placing more orders with you. Remember, consumers want what they want when they want it: And if someone goes to a retail store, then it means that they want something immediately. If a retailer doesn’t have the item that they want, the customer will go elsewhere.
Keeping Customers Happy
A bad review today is so much worse than it was even just five or ten years ago. Thanks to social media, we are all connected. This means that a bad review doesn’t just sit on a website like Yelp anymore: It can be broadcast to hundreds or thousands of potential customers instantly, with the click of a button—and this can have a major impact on your ability to acquire and retain customers.
Keeping customers happy and satisfied is more critical today than it’s ever been before, and thanks to the impact that Amazon has had on changing customer expectations, it’s harder than it has ever been. By focusing on improving the right KPIs, you can ensure that both your direct and retail customers stay happy and spending money—with you.