Using Customer complaints to improve your supply chain

Marketing talk about the “better mousetrap syndrome”, it is not a bigger, better, faster mouse trap that customers want – they just want to be rid of the mouse, so too with Supply. Customers just want what they order, when they expect it (or told to expect it).

Many times the message will be heard that customers want a faster more reliable delivery service. So the Distribution Manager will call for a meeting with the Carrier asking they address the problem – now. But by drilling down it is found customers are receiving their orders anywhere between 4-25 days with a gazetted delivery of 6 days.

In fact after talking to the customers, all they really want (as an example) is to get a guarantee that their orders will arrive on day 6, every time and this actually happens.

To achieve this will not entail just talking to the carrier and setting KPIs and exception reports etc, there will need to be a proper Root Cause Analysis carried out.  You may find that aside from the Carriers own issues there are delays throughout the process, for example the time it takes to receive and enter an order, the picking schedules in the warehouse, the collection schedules, the availability of stock etc.

There are many ways a company can improve their own Supply Chain without the need to rush out and purchase new systems or equipment. Often it is seeing the big picture, then following some basic steps:

1-       Map the Supply Chain

2-       Identify the bottle necks

3-       Identify a few, appropriate KPIs

4-       Put into place an Exception Reporting process (to trigger Root Cause Analysis & Corrective Actions)

5-       Use your ‘CAR’ system to record and monitor issues, both operational and systemic.

6-       Communicate with all stake-holders: suppliers-staff-customers

Like the Mousetrap, investing in bigger, faster processes and products may not be what is required, it might just be to stabilise what you have and set appropriate customer expectations.  A targeted approach such as this will cost less, retain customers and will probably reduce ongoing costs.