By Samskruthi Parthasarathi
Customers now know what they want and when they want it. They may even look elsewhere if you fail them when it comes to reliable delivery options, knowledgeable consultants, easy to access information and even simple reverse logistics policies. And with e-commerce gains across Latin America, customers expect an easy to use website, up to date tracking and notifications, near immediate response rates and informative portals and forums. While many businesses know how to track performance with traditional metrics, putting customer satisfaction first can be a real game changer and require you to look at the bigger picture. But with so many variables to keep track of, where does one start?
- Consider relying on a 3PL. You’d be surprised how many businesses underestimate the cost of labor, software systems, storage, and transportation. Why? Because many businesses do not have contingency plans or affordable options to choose from when faced with unplanned disruptions. Whether it’s a weather delay or labour strike, businesses really lack visibility during these times. Reputations are affected, and customers eventually complain and turn elsewhere. So, have a continuity plan which details separate vendors and factories to avoid disruptions to your business and know when to get help from outside. Our consultants know how to weather a crisis and maintain operations during a slowdown. They know how to respond to changes and variability in transport companies. For example, they are trained to act quickly when it’s time to switch transport modes and know when to supply a customer from a different source. Relying on services from a 3PL can greatly contribute to improved customer service.
- Keep up bi-directional communication. First, know what the requirements of your customer are so that you don’t spend money on things they don’t want. If you align yourself with their priorities, you will know when to send items by ground over two days instead of more costly next-day delivery. Learning their requirements will also enable you to offer segments and products for their specific needs and in the process you will not go overboard and waste money on services they never asked for. Second, be upfront about delays and breakdowns in machinery etc. Provide critical information and don’t shy from glitches that happen in the supply chain. Be realistic and handle issues quickly and effectively and offset downturns with mitigating suggestions that will not necessarily put off your demanding customer.
- Plan, plan, plan. Will your distributor still meet your needs in two years? What if your business shrinks during lean months? Do you know packaging partners to help with that sudden pharma order? Have you planned for when your business shifts online? These heavy commitments may be initially daunting, but in the long run, and if you do see your business growing in the future, forecasting for these scenarios and preparing with regional contacts will serve your customers well. It also helps to know what your competitors are doing. When market share is in play, what could you do to enhance a customer’s experience, whether it’s through order process or offering upgraded service options. How can you engage with customers and deliver a superior performance and be better placed to attract new customers?
Improvement in these three categories is the surest way for you to redefine the experience for your customers. Leaning on a 3PL can really give you a competitive advantage as they have the resources and regional knowledge for executing your goals while minimizing risks. 3PLs realize that businesses are no longer reliant on transport and trucking decisions. They will include planning, analysis and value add from end to end and help you in capturing more customers and solving existing problems.
If you are looking for a talk with a supply chain consultant, please email firstname.lastname@example.org Not only can we provide support for traditional logistics queries, but we also have a team of consultants with real world experience and expertise in business process improvement.