Three steps to customer-centric supply chains

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
23 February 2022

A trend is emerging among supply chain organisations of focusing on commercial growth rather than cost-cutting, according to Gartner.

Gartner said a survey of 983 supply chain leaders in 2021 found 62% were investing in capabilities to “capture, analyse and leverage supply chain specific customer data to support reinvention of the supply chain to drive commercial innovation”.

“This development is driving an increased expectation towards the supply chain organisation to assume a more customer-facing position and grow the overall business by focusing on commercial growth rather than cost-cutting innovations,” said Gartner. 

Gartner said the supply chain of the future would be “totally tuned into their customers” through the use of data from product use, customer satisfaction and a “broad range of listening posts”.

Beth Coppinger, senior director analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, said: “Supply chain customers today are looking for improvements in areas such as on-time, in-full. They also expect shorter lead time and personalised products and packaging.

“Organisations must adapt quickly, as failing to understand and meet customer needs can result in the loss of exactly those customers.”

Gartner said supply chain functions “lack clarity on how to transform their organisations” but outlined three actions to improve the supply chain customer experience:

1. Build cross-functional understanding of the customer. The goal here is to get a full picture of what the customer wants, needs and thinks through collection of “voice of the customer” data, including product use and satisfaction. This should be used to create a shared understanding of the customer across the enterprise.

2. Set and adapt a strategy for improving customer experience. Supply chain leaders need to partner with executive peers across the organisation to align efforts and set clearly-defined metrics and expected outcomes.

3. Coordinate to create a customer-centric culture. Chief supply chain officers should align and communicate the customer experience vision to get everyone onboard and outline behaviours that need to change. Ideally a customer experience leader should be put in place who coordinates best practices and assets, working with a cross-functional steering team to engage the entire organisation.

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