OK, excuse the title and structure, but it’s only partly ‘tongue in cheek’. I’ve just tried to make a very important topic a more entertaining read for you. There are some very important points here for all businesses to consider, if they want to reduce costs and improve customer service. I’m sure many of these will apply to your business…
1. The customer is king, but the shareholder is verily the King of Kings.
Many businesses take the view that the customer is King and it is usually with the best of intentions. Of course the customers are the life blood of any business. Without customers a business dies. But remember also, that a business is in business, to make a profit. Without that profit, the business will definitely die. So respect your customers and do your utmost to provide them with the service that they expect, without going broke! So you must have the ability to establish the cost impacts of your service policies.
2. Know thine Supply Chain well, how it be formed, how it doth function and how it may be defined in stories to others.
Many businesses have a huge problem with communicating across functions, precisely how the Supply Chain operates and how it supports the business. It is very common for the non Supply Chain parts of the business to mis understand customer service offers, like who gets free delivery, or minimum order sizes or the impact on the Supply Chain costs of an unplanned promotion.
Make sure those who are most impacted by the Supply Chain in your business, understand how it can support them best.
3. Whilst thy flock may number in the thousands, thou must understand the needs of each and group and care for them, like with like, such as those that bite the hand that feeds them, or those that are timid and must be nurtured.
This relates to how you view your customers. All businesses have a vast range of customer types. By purchase value, by order size, by geography, by service expectation, by payment terms and so on. Don’t try to manage and support all your customers in the same way. Some need a lot more management and ‘nurturing’ whilst others can almost be put on ‘auto pilot’ in terms of ordering and service.
4. Know thine Supply Chain costs like the back of thine hand.
I’m often astounded at the number of quite senior managers I meet, who have very little idea of their key Supply Chain costs. Why is that? I’m sure they know the cost of their car insurance or the price of a liter of fuel, but for some reason supply chain costs just end up in a large ‘bucket’ of costs the total amount of which, they ‘kind of’ know….
If you are going to make your Supply Chain a differentiator and provide superior service to your customers at much lower costs to the competition, you’ll need to become almost obsessive about understanding your costs and the key drivers of cost in your Supply Chain. We all know the old saying… If you can’t measure it… you can’t manage it.
5. Covet thy neighbours customers and woo them with superior offerings.
OK, so some businesses might be providing commodity type products, whereby customers will always purchase based on the lowest price. But if you think that applies to most businesses, most customers or most products, think again. You’re wrong.
in almost every industry there are ample opportunities to gain market share with superior customer service. And if you are managing your Supply Chain well, that higher service offer does not need to cost you more. (we’ll be covering this in our free seminars on 29 Nov and 1 Dec – details below)
6. Thou shall not make for thine leaders or customers, false images of thine performance, but be open and honest even if such may incur their wrath.
There is no place for hiding the facts or dishonesty in any aspect of business. Don’t try to pull the wool over your customers eyes or your own business leaders. It will always hurt you in the end.
Business leaders, like customers prefer to hear the bad news along with the good. In most cases if you are up front about a failed delivery, or a short order, and explain how you are going to fix the issue, customers will appreciate your integrity and will respect you all the more for it. Just try to make sure things go right as much as possible though! Unlike a business I dealt with a long time ago that would fabricate service failures, so that they could then be seen to super reactive and heroes in the eyes of the customers!
7. Honour thy customers and suppliers and treat them as thou wouldst be treated, for they put the bread on thine table.
Again, this comes down to integrity. Try to treat others as you would expect to be treated and you will just gain more of their trust and support.
8. Remember the promised delivery date, and keep it thus.
There’s a few here related to integrity! How many times have you been promised a delivery, only to know in your heart, that there is no way it could arrive that fast, or on that date. So tell it like it is. You might be surprised to know that in most industries, customers value reliability of service much much more than speed of service!
9. Know and understand this, that Thou hast more than one Supply Chain, but not so many as the stars in the sky.
Many businesses still hang on to the old concept that they have one Supply Chain and that Supply Chain meets the vast range of needs of ALL of their customers and products. Wrong!
Most businesses need to have tailored Supply Chains, that are highly flexible, that can cater to a range of service needs. For example, these might be 7 day turnaround for large (bulk) orders to major customers. Next day delivery for urgent orders with an extra freight charge, 3 day delivery via a fulfilment centre for internet orders, and so on.
10. Keep thine humour at all times, for it will succour thee through adversity.
Supply Chain and Logistics Managers like many other business leaders, have to deal with some highly stressful and challenging issues sometimes. Just remember that what doesn’t kill you merely makes you stronger.
And keep smiling…