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Customer experience is on its way to becoming the most important factor in supply chain success—here are 4 ways to improve it. 

Making supply chains as customer-centric as possible is set to become priority number 1 for companies. It’s what makes companies stand out. In turn, it’s what makes customers want to do repeat business with them. As such, companies are focusing on ways to use their supply chains to enhance customer experience.

As covered in a recent Supply Chain Movement article,

Customer experience will soon be the most important factor for a successful supply chain – even more important than low costs, according to six out of ten supply chain professionals. They ranked it as the number one brand differentiator in the coming years, putting it ahead of price and product in a recent global survey.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights 4 of the most critical ways in which companies can improve their customer experience via their supply chains.

Listen to and Study Your Customers

These are certainly obvious considerations. Nonetheless, they’re worth addressing. Customers want and often expect a personalized experience. If companies can provide it to them, they often gain longtime loyal consumers. Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward two-pronged approach to meeting this customer requirement.

The first thing companies can do is simply listen to their customers as well as specifically ask for feedback through whatever channels they have available. Secondly, once they have sufficient data on their customers, companies should create multiple buyer personas. These personas should include exactly what these potential buyers would want on their customer journey. This process should be dynamic, adapting to new customers and new expectations.

Eliminate Data Silos

The various teams, processes, and operations within a supply chain should have data flowing freely between them. More than that, all their data being collected should be consolidated and kept in a single, unified platform. The easiest avenue to achieving this is digital transformation. But regardless of how companies do so, they need their all data to be easily accessible and easy to sort through.

As a result of this, companies can then keep up with the functioning of their supply chain on all levels. And, in turn, keep their customers informed as well. This is also helpful in the case of any issues that arise. After all, customers are much more understanding of companies that are proactive in mentioning and addressing their mistakes, as opposed to ones that wait for negative feedback to respond.

Enhance Visibility

If companies want to be able to avoid and fix for impediments within their supply chains, it’s crucial that they have visibility across them. If an order is late or having problems, it’s of the utmost importance that companies be aware of that. Otherwise, orders may never arrive. Thus, companies have to ensure they utilize integrated and transparent supply chain management.

Visibility isn’t only important for the company itself, however. A post by Bringg distinguishes between the two types of visibility needed,

Internally, businesses need to have full visibility over their own fleets, inventory, warehouse and drivers. On the customer end, consumers today want to have full visibility over their delivery – from when it leaves the warehouse, restaurant, or service center until it arrives to their house.

Embrace Data, Analytics, and Machine Learning

Data is a company’s primary resource to transform into top notch customer experience. This is because, through data collection, companies can gain insights into how their various operations are doing through analytics. Which, in turn, can be conveyed to customers or used to mitigate any supply chain breakdowns. Moreover, that gathered data can also be used for machine learning. A function of AI that helps with predicting demand and forecasting.

Supply Chain - Customer Service and Technologies that Will Deliver it

Despite all the talk about blockchain technology, one of the preeminent challenges supply chains still face is customer service, and there are several technologies that could be the key to addressing it.

Customer service is an ongoing priority in the supply chain industry. Customers, now more than ever, need a seamless experience across a supply chain. Customers want their orders delivered faster. They want them delivered more accurately. They demand transparency throughout the process. Moreover, they expect an ability to track their deliveries. And, in turn, they expect inventory to meet their demand. More than anything, customers expect an experience modified to their individual needs.

A 2018 Logility and APICS survey on supply chain priorities revealed that,

30% highlighted the need to respond to customer mandates for faster, more accurate and unique fulfillment as a top business priority moving forward

The industry is well aware of the importance of customer service and is making it a top priority to solve. For companies to address this issue, however, they’ll need to adopt the precision, productivity, and granularity technology brings.

This week’s article by Morai Logistics details the difficulties customer service presents supply chains and how various technologies can solve them.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The term “AI” is so prominent in so many industries that are dealing with or relying on technology that it’s something of a buzzword at this point. But, there is a reason for this, it is providing unprecedented benefits to companies the world over. The supply chain industry is no exception. Through AI, companies will be able to optimize their chains from start to finish. Gaining access to analytics and forecasting that will be crucial to getting the most out of their operations. Thus, the faster and more accurate deliveries customers want can be achieved.

Automation

Automation achieves many of the same results AI does. By being able to automate many of the processes in a supply chain, it becomes more efficient. Operations in warehouses, involving data collection, and transportation, should all be automated. In turn, supply chains can become more transparent and reliable, on top of being faster and more cost-effective.

Mobile Applications

In the short-to-medium term, mobile applications might be the most useful technology this article covers.

A 2018 report highlighted by eMarketer stated,

Mobile devices and apps (27.9%) were cited as the technology that would deliver the most innovation benefits in five years.

Their are several reasons for this. Key among them is convenience. Everyone carries mobiles. As such, accessing these supply chain applications is simple, any time, any place. These applications enable supply chain managers the ability to get real-time updates and closely monitor their inventory and operations. Consequently, this brings a degree of granularity to the customer experience unlike what was achievable before. Supply chain managers can continually monitor the various activities that make up their chain and customize them to fit their clients’ needs.

Inventory and Warehouse Management Softwares

Softwares that allow for the management of inventory and warehouses are tremendous tools for optimal customer service. They provide visibility, control, and tracking of inventory. Moreover, they assist in meeting customer demands, by tracking inventory levels and making sure they are in the desired range. Finally, like all the other technologies covered here, they improve the accuracy, speed, and reliability of deliveries.