Why supply chain chiefs need to work with customers

18 February 2022

Chief financial officers say supply chain issues are the biggest challenge for their businesses, according to the latest Grant Thornton’s survey.

Some 40% of those polled in the Q4 survey of US-based CFOs said supply chains ranked top in the three biggest challenges facing their business. This was a 14% rise on the Q3 survey.

A further 53% said they believed supply chain disruption would negatively impact their business in the next six months.

According to the report, optimism fell from 69% in the Q3 report to just 57% in Q4. Only 24% of CFOs polled said they were “very optimistic” about the short-term future, while 15% said they were “pessimistic” and a further 6% were “very pessimistic”.

It also predicted continued talent shortages are likely to impact business growth, with 68% of CFOs reporting their organisation was likely to experience a talent shortage in 2022. In addition, more than half (53%) said they expected the talent crunch to have a negative impact on their business.

Commenting on the results, Enzo Santilli, national managing partner of transformation at Grant Thornton, said: “CFOs continued to face unprecedented levels of disruption in the fourth quarter of 2021.” However, there is still hope, he added.

“CFOs need to collaborate with key executives across their organisations to ensure their businesses weather the storm appropriately. Now is not the time to panic; it’s the time to get creative.”

Grant Thornton national sourcing and supply chain transformation practice leader, Ben YoKell, added: “The vast majority of businesses are settling into a new reality that requires some very hard choices.”

This analysis comes at the same time as Gartner's research on how supply chain leaders are planning to tackle key issues they are facing.

In the Gartner poll of 983 global supply chain leaders, 62% said they are investing in new capabilities to “capture, analyse and leverage supply chain-specific customer satisfaction data to support reinvention of the supply chain”.

The data reveals that customer experience governance is a key concern for supply chain chiefs in 2022. It found 60% of supply chain leaders are currently investing in developing and maintaining access to voice of the customer (VoC) data.

The report said: “The goal must be to get a full picture of what the customer wants, needs and thinks, and to create a shared understanding of the customer at critical touch points across the enterprise.”

Gartner supply chain practice senior director analyst Beth Coppinger said: “Organisations must adapt quickly. Failing to understand and meet customer needs can result in the loss of customers.”

The Gartner report recommended chief supply chain officers should take three actions to improve supply chain customer experience:

  • Build customer understanding by listening at multiple interaction points,
  • Set and adapt strategies for improving customer experience, and
  • Coordinate and create a customer-centric culture.
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