Tag Archive: customer service

The Resilient Supply Chain: Are You Resilient?

December 31st, 2018

I was carpooling across town for an event tour (that had been postponed once) in rainy weather in rush hour in Southern California.  If this situation doesn’t call for resilience, I don’t know what does!  Of course, something is bound to go awry, starting with traffic jams galore.

We both had to be home at an early hour to get to key events that evening and we hadn’t had the best of days.  Not only did we miss key meetings to attend the postponed event, but the most important part of the day was cancelled due to delays, and several things weren’t coordinated too well.  Already a little frustrated, we headed home.

My carpool partner was already concerned about driving through large puddles with her small car because she didn’t want it to stall out.  Prior to the tour, we made several trips around the parking lot.  We decided to move to higher ground or we’d be up to our knees in water when we returned.  After the tour, while making our way to the exit, we had to drive through big puddles. On the last big puddle before exiting the lot, the car started making a loud noise.  Not good!

After we pushed through and pulled off to the side, it was apparent that the undercarriage cover came off.  Clearly the water didn’t make it fall off, but there must have been something in the water that caused it to separate.  We were at a male dominated facility with at least 4 guys at the exit. They came over but couldn’t define the problem.  My carpool partner was no expert at cars but saw that it was the undercarriage.  So we decided to back up so that we could see it and weren’t dragging it along.  She asked them for ideas or recommendations for a shop nearby. No one had any idea and just pointed out that the undercarriage was dragging below the car. My carpool partner was becoming frustrated.
After a few more minutes with no help from “the guys”, she decided we could tie the undercarriage up so that it would stay for the ride home – BUT, we needed rope.  Of course, no one had a clue. Luckily, she found rope in the backseat (which, I admit, would never be found in my backseat…until this experience). Next she tied it up herself as one or two of the bystanders watched.  We needed a scissors to tie it up. What do you think happened next? Of course – no one knew. I went over to the guard shack and borrowed a pair. She cut the rope and we drove back in the rain for about 2 hours in heavy traffic.

Since she is new to the area and didn’t want to leave the temporary rope option too long, it occurred to me that my mechanic is amazing at customer service and would probably help us out.  I texted him, told him the story and said we’d drop by in 20 minutes. When we showed up, he took us immediately, offered us coffee and conversation while they assessed the issue. He returned with a temporary solution and showed us why she would have to purchase a new undercarriage cover.  Less than 30 minutes later, we left with the car intact and safe to drive until the dealer could order a cover that he offered to put on for her. My mechanic didn’t charge us for this service and left us thanking him profusely. My carpool partner even left with a tip on how to buy a new truck for her husband who was moving out the next day.  Who doesn’t value relationships!?!

In this situation, we could have become seriously delayed (missing our evening events or taking Uber on a lengthy drive), stuck, angry and more.  Instead, my carpool partner took control of the situation, got us going and then we leveraged fabulous connections to ensure the temporary solution would “stick”.  Resilience and perseverance won out in the end!

What would you have done?

 

 



It’s a Small World & the Customer Experience

September 7th, 2018

A few weeks ago, my brothers and nephew were in town and we did a whirlwind tour of Southern California hot spots.  We went to Universal Studios, Oceanside beach, a day-trip to San Diego for various food hot spots (a few favorites for the Arizona contingent) and to Disneyland/California Adventure.  While there, we went on my favorite ride: It’s a Small World.  What a great job they do at making the total customer experience!

Disney does a fabulous job of creating a complete experience.  In the case of It’s a Small World, you’ll notice their use of color and sound.  Interestingly, if you look at the boat ahead of us, the guests are wearing Mickey Mouse ears.  Other than sporting events, I’m not sure I can think of another place where people proudly wear hats (and certainly not odd ear hats).  As you go through the ride, there is an underwater scene where the song sounds like it is sung underwater.  Disney always goes the extra mile to fill out the customer experience.  On some rides, they add breezes, smells and more.  When walking between rides, you’ll always find people dressed in costume picking up trash so that the park is in great shape. Are you paying as much attention to your customers’ complete experience?

One great way to get started is to “shop your business”.  No matter your position, try experiencing your company as a customer would.  Are you able to call whoever you might need to talk to without annoying phone system automation?  There was a brief period of time when I called my financial advisor where I was consistently lost in a phone system maze and didn’t receive a return call.  It was amazing how such a responsive and service oriented company could turn into a nightmare with a mere phone system transition.  (Thank goodness he threw it out!)

How easy is it to place an order?  Does your customer service representative have to call you back if you have questions about old orders or does he/she seem to have information at his fingertips?  Can you get information on-line if you happen to need status in the middle of the night?  Do you receive product on-time and in-full (OTIF)?  When you receive your product or service, how does it look?  Are you proud of it or do you see room for improvement?

Now, think about it – all of these items are baseline requirements.  Are you going beyond to provide a superior customer experience?  Are you predicting what your customers’ might need and prompting them?  Are you managing inventory for them?

What else are you doing to stand out from the crowd?

 

 



The Highest # of Factory Jobs Since 2008!

May 1st, 2018

Supply Chain Briefing

According to Industry Week, we have the highest number of factory jobs since 2008!  We have reached over 12.6 million people employed by the sector. This is all the more impressive when we consider the significant rate of automation and deployment of technological advances occurring the last several years.  

In the era of the customer, executives are locating manufacturing in close proximity to their customers. Since customers expect rapid deliveries and high levels of customization, it is making more and more sense to locate manufacturing in Southern California and especially the Inland Empire with lower costs, extra space and access to top talent.  Are you prepared to grow?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Since manufacturing is transitioning from a necessarily evil into a strategic advantage supporting superior customer service, it is well-worth thinking about how you are positioned.  A

re you leveraging the opportunity if you are well-located by a significant customer base? What can you offer to provide customized, specialized experiences for your customer? Undoubtedly, the executives thinking this way will surpass their competition.  

Similar to retail shopping – if the store you go to doesn’t have what you want customized for you when you want it, what do you do? Buy from the competition! We don’t wait for products to arrive on a boat from China patiently.

Take note if you would pay more for customized, quick service.  I find that I am willing. Are your customers?



San Antonio’s Riverwalk and Creating a “Destination”

October 24th, 2017

I've Been Thinking

As my California best friend’s parents would say, “Remember that time we went to San Antonio’s Riverwalk…”. It was a fabulous trip with the beautiful riverwalk and surrounding area (which was also definitely improved with the hotel’s free breakfast which somehow makes everything so much better!) whereas when they had been to San Antonio previously, it was definitely not something to write home about. In fact, they had a hair raising experience checking into a hotel.  I have fond memories of repeated trips to the Iron Cactus for guacamole with them (they were great sports with my love of guacamole). So, when I was in San Antonio for APICS 2017, I definitely searched out the Iron Cactus and took a picture. With that said, I figured readers would prefer the beauty of the riverwalk. The oldest restaurant in town, Casa Rio, is featured below and of course I tried the guacamole! Have you thought about how the city of San Antonio transformed this area into a top notch tourist destination?  

One tip to implement this week:

Perhaps you are thinking that creating a destination isn’t something that applies to your business; after all, we aren’t a “city” (although a few of us might work for one). Regardless, it absolutely is something we should ponder. Wouldn’t you like your customers to consider your company, your Customer Service team or your service a compelling “destination”? When most people get a new iPhone, don’t you think they see it as a new “destination” of sorts? Everyone gets in line to buy one and social media buzzes. Quite similar, if you ask me!

So, how can we create a destination?  Let’s start by considering our customers and clients. San Antonio had to think about what would appeal to their tourists and citizens. Where would they enjoy spending time? How could they make what they have into something attractive? Start by thinking about those same questions. Undoubtedly, everyone has a talent, and there is something good to find in every company. What is it? Can you build upon that strength? Obviously, San Antonio had to start with a river which not every city has. Stretch your thinking and run your ideas by your colleagues. What do you think would really entice your customers? Find out and let me know in the comments!

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What Do Sears and Amazon Have in Common?

October 10th, 2017

Thanks to my client Dan Vest, I read a fascinating article about Sears and Amazon. Who knew Sears and Amazon had so much in common? Pretty startling! The Reader’s Digest version is as follows: Sears was the former Amazon about 100 years ago, growing 50-fold within a decade with its world-famous catalog and then transforming from a mailing company to a brick-and-mortar giant. They were the everything store with an uncanny feel for consumer demand. Sound familiar? So what might we learn from history and paying attention to trends?

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

Perhaps Sears isn’t something to be totally ignored… As transformative, customer-focused and growth-oriented as they were 100 years ago, they stopped looking for the next customer-focused innovation and have suffered mightily. Clearly, if you lose track of your customer, you are likely to lose track of your growth and profits. It is also easy to get lost as you get big – suddenly what used to be innovative is replaced with ridiculous rules and bureaucracy with no glance in the direction of the customer. Walmart came on the scene with amazing service and low costs. And now Amazon is the 80 pound gorilla.

There is another interesting development to note. Amazon tends to choose strange bedfellows and has partnered with the brick-and-mortar giant. Amazon will sell smart technology such as the Echo in Sears stores and the Sears flagship Kenmore brand product line will be sold online through Amazon. Unique collaborations seem to be driving success.  Just look at the partnership of innovative Amazon with “not-known-for-its-innovation” United States Postal Service (USPS), yet it works. Do you see postal trucks delivering on Sundays? I do.

In short, pay attention to history, trends and never stop thinking. Add collaboration into the mix and you might just hit a home run.

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