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Customer driven strategies

Orhon Anit
advisor in Supply Chain

Whenever we talk about procurement & supply chain, businesses cannot implement a working SCM function within their organizations, if it is not driven by "The Customers Voice".

There are two rules to customer service:

  • Rule # 1: The customer is always right.
  • Rule # 2: When the customer is wrong, refer to Rule # 1.

Our customers want us to be flexible. To be flexible we have to do things quickly. How can we achieve this? I am sure that "Customer Service" should be a continuous improvement process.

Know your customer: Getting close to the customer is understanding of his needs and expectations. There should be open communication channels and face-to-face talks about plant’s ability to deliver service, quality and price. This will not only result in a smooth plant operation, but will also eliminate confusion at the customer’s end.

Customer Service Culture is a complex subject. A culture cannot be imposed. Some things we should want to see in a customer-oriented culture are:

  • The whole organization operating as a team, not as members of different departments.
  • Open horizontal communications at all levels.
  • Delegation of authority to the lowest effective level: → empowerment.
  • Encouragement of flexibility, innovation and an entrepreneurial approach.
  • Effective motivation, training, recognition, listening etc.
  • Hustle and urgency.
  • Leen and keen staffing.

It is not easy to get the entire organization to understand importance of this. It will make it more cumbersome since some of the companies may have to be dealing with numerous different cultures, globally.

QuoteAllow Customers Direct Contact with Empowered Satisfiers.

I am sure that tntermediaries do not add value.

Intermediaries slow communication, decrease the accuracy of communication, provide a crutch for ineffective satisfiers and cause frustration at your customers. Direct contact of customers with satisfiers is the key to the level of customer satisfaction with any organization. The issue is empowerment.

Effective Internal Communications: Lower level staff can make effective decisions if internal communications are good. They cannot do so if they have only specialist or departmental level of knowledge of plants abilities, priorities, vision etc. Some sensible elements of effective internal communication system, include:

  • Open horizontal communications at all levels.
  • Avoid QA having their IT system, Purchasing theirs, etc.
  • An electronic mail system to allow as many people as possible to read communications. A paper system is not as effective in this.
  • Encouragement of a generalist mentality rather than specialist, so that people know what is happening elsewhere, and their part in the whole. They will feel more involved, as well as being part of the team.

Customers’ Expectations:

  • To be kept informed
  • Prompt and accurate replies to questions
  • Direct access to satisfier
  • Customer requirements will be accepted
  • Agreed requirements will be met
  • Customer requirements can be changed at short notice

Emphasis should be given, that the most important of all five satisfiers is the culture. Without culture and leadership others will not happen.

It is crucial to know that:

  • Top management commitment is essential. If top management does not actively support these ideas, they will not happen.
  • Many of the satisfiers cannot be achieved in an organization structure in which strong departments, with only dotted line to top management.

I would like to repeat the mentality that starts all of this.

There are two rules to customer service:

  • Rule # 1: The customer is always right.
  • Rule # 2: When the customer is wrong, refer to Rule # 1. 
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