The pandemic was a wakeup call. Previous disasters came and went without lasting change for the better. Change that resulted was reflexive and short-sighted – focusing on the immediate problem. So, progress has been slow and incremental.
But that’s changing as reflexive changes of years past won’t work this time. In today’s market, volatility and uncertainty have increased in pace and impact. So, any solution must address that.
They must be swifter and more far-sighted.
Now there’s an increased sense of urgency with more attention paid to consumers and technology. Consumers are more demanding. They’ve changed the way they shop by shopping online. And they’re doing so in growing numbers.
The thrust of this post is as follows:
To compete in today’s highly volatile and competitive markets, businesses that focus on the consumer will enjoy disproportionate benefits. In investing in technology focused on improving performance with the consumer in mind you will yield outsized benefits.
Supply chain performance focused on the consumer experience means improving agility, resilience and service and support.
Let’s delve into how each of these can improve customer experience.
Improving Performance Focused on Customer Needs
Agility is all about responding to the situation at hand. Responsiveness to customer needs stems from the ability to respond instantly and automatically to changing dynamics along the supply chain. It begins with planning and ends with satisfaction of customer needs.
Planning for agility considers preventing, avoiding, and eliminating disruptions. Planning for disruptions facilitates responses to interruptions in sourcing, network planning, route adjustments, to name a few.
You can plan for expected disruptions in detail, while unexpected disruptions only lend themselves to high-level planning. Nonetheless, planning is a key element of building agility into your supply chain.
That said, you can further build agility into your supply chain with access to “real-time” data and information. That capability enables you to make decisions “on-the-go”. You can achieve real-time visibility from technologies that offer end-to-end visibility.
You can further achieve ground truth from social media. That can help inform traditional dissemination of breaking news. One example is impending weather events – catastrophic or otherwise. Tapping into a variety of information sources via available technologies can provide a well-informed version of ground truth. This further enhances agility.
But that’s not all.
You can also leverage Big Data and Analytics for strategic and tactical advantage. You can achieve that with periodic reports of daily business operations. And you can employ real-time analytics technologies that synthesize structured and unstructured data providing greater insights.
Existing and emerging technologies meaningfully applied can inform your business decisions with data-based decision making that improves customer service and support. It does so by building agility and resilience into your supply chain.
Resilience is closely related to agility but also differs from it. Resilience means “bouncing back”. It’s kind of a reflexive action. It implies flexibility. In supply chain, it means recovering from a disruptive event and returning to normal operations. Another description of resilience is to view it as a “snap back” from a disruptive to a steady state.
Similar to agility, resilience lends itself to planning. More specifically, it lends itself to detailed, long-term planning. Unlike agility, which applies to short-term dynamics, resilience applies to long-term issues. Again, agility refers to responsiveness, whereas resilience refers to durability.
Nonetheless, a primary advantage of resilience is that you can fortify your supply chain by planning for and building in resilience. You’ll be ready when crisis hits.
Resilience covers expected and unexpected disruptions, low-probability and high-probability events. Planning strategically, allows you to prioritize your risks for the long-term. That enables you to allocate resources based on your constraints.
Technology you can bring to bear in achieving resilience can be found in traditional technologies like TMS and WMS. Moreover, it also affords you the opportunity to leverage emerging technologies like Big Data, Robotics, the Internet of Things, and AI.
Deliberate planning for resilience takes time but has potentially outsized benefits. It allows for considering risks as well as relevant technologies – existing and emerging. As technologies become more sophisticated, so will your solutions.
Planning for resilience reinforces the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Customer Service and Support is where all your efforts and actions come to fruition. If you’ve planned with your customers’ needs in mind from the outset, you’ll have a better than average chance of meeting or exceeding your customers’ demands.
Your customers’ needs should drive the details in your planning and execution. They should inform the streamlining of your business processes. Doing due diligence during planning will aid in reducing and optimizing cycle times.
Next, you would apply technology solutions to enable those reengineered business processes.
Technologies you can apply include:
- analyzing and optimizing transportation networks with TMS systems
- up-to-date status messaging, from order-to-delivery
- ad hoc and deliberate data analytics and reporting
- timely, accurate, and automated billing
- E2E visibility
- the Cloud
Plus, you have other promising technologies like AI and Blockchain.
What’s more, your customers should benefit from cost efficiencies resulting from improved performance effectiveness.
You can also offer different distribution channels to enhance convenience. Examples are direct-to-customer, retail pick-up, and customized time-definite delivery.
The paradigm is shifting putting the customer in control. Paying attention to customer service and support should be a primary planning consideration.
That raises the value and significance of customer service and support. Simply stated, it places customer needs at the forefront in supply chain management.
Think Amazon, which epitomizes the customer experience.
Targeting Technology Investments to Build Customer-centric Supply Chains
Achieving an enhanced consumer experience begins with the customer in mind. In today’s world, finding customer-centric solutions must be swift and far-sighted.
Former responses to supply chain crises, which were slow and incremental. Now they are outdated, given today’s chaotic markets and emerging technologies.
Logistics and technology are in a period of transition.
Both are transforming how business gets done. The key to success is having a customer-focus. That customer focus should translate into improved customer experience all along the supply chain.
Technology can be an effective enabler leading to improved customer experience and long-term competitive advantage. But you must align technology solutions with your business processes and focus them on your customer.
Are your logistics technologies focused on improving performance with the customer in mind? If not, do you know how to reverse that?
To get trusted and timely assistance with improving your customers’ experience, contact American Global Logistics!
Work with us if you want to enjoy disproportionate benefits, as you focus on your customers.
When you make your customers number one, they will make you number one.
Contact us today to help you add value for your customers and increase your sales, profits, and competitive advantage.