On the 3rd Day of Christmas my supply chain gave to me…

…3 calling customers

And the calls weren’t so great.

1st call from management: Why the increase in customer complaints?

Thirty percent of U.S. online customers told Forrester that they plan to do more in-store holiday shopping this year. At the same time, Forbes reports that 1 in 3 customers found it difficult to get help from customer service agents.


Add that to the 41% who complained their feedback was ignored and you have a problem. A big problem.

Customer service problems could be ignored by supply chain personnel because they belong to another department. But how many of the calls are due to something supply chain professionals could fix, if they only knew about it?

It’s tough to win and keep customers. Don’t lose those you could be keeping. Invite customer service representatives into some of your quality or continuous improvement meetings. Even better, make sure your data sharing includes continuous data feeds that capture problems that can be fixed in your company. Figuring out where in the supply chain the data should be sent is part of supply chain signal mapping.

2nd call from management: Why do so few customers know we are running specials?

Again, it seems that we’re not talking about supply chains here. This is actually someone else’s problem.

Or is it?

Preparing for those specials means you in purchasing ordered a lot of raw materials and finished goods. And you fought to get them in on time to meet projections. Sales projections that weren’t met doesn’t relieve you of having to account for the spend. One way or another, marketing and supply chain personnel must sing from the same sheet of paper, be in harmony, and in the same time signature.

While there may be many different reasons why your customers didn’t get marketing’s message, one interesting tidbit from research is that customers respond more to emails over SMS texts. Definitely goes against the idea of email being “old” technology that “no one uses anymore”. To avoid misses that affect your sales and expenses, use solid data relating how to best get your customers in the know.

3rd call set: Customers want to know when their orders will be in!

Suez Canal, Red Sea, Panama Canal. Seems as though anywhere a ship might go, there’s a constraint. And your customer orders are on those ships somewhere.

Ships going around the Cape of Good Hope add about 2 weeks to lead time. The Panama Canal is cutting daily ship throughput by half.

It will take more work but expand your intermodal network. Use simulations to help when possible. Connect with your knowledgeable partners to learn of other options. Make sure you can track and trace your containers every step of the way (back to Day 1: needing consistent data from sensors during the entire journey). Make sure documentation provides you with the right to data each step of the way.

Perhaps create a real time portal of what is moving where for your customers and how it affects their specific orders. While there may still be delays and additional costs, at least your customers have the what-is-where and will-be-there-when order knowledge at their fingertips to keep their S&OP, supporting plans, and partner coordination up to date.

#supplychain #supplychainmanagement #customer #OTD #customercomplaints #customerservice #salesandsupplychains #sensors #containers #leadtime #ProcessandStrategy #CynthiaKalinaKaminsky

Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky is a Master SCOR instructor and consultant, as well as a supply chain professional.  She uses SCOR as a foundation for supply chain innovation, transformation, digital capability building, and sustainable/resilient supply chain performance you can depend on. Learn more here