Tag Archive: customers

Shangri-La: The Best Hotel Service Bar None

November 10th, 2016

supply chain

I am in Japan this week meeting with my global board of advisors group to discuss 2017 strategy and business trends. Since I have never been to Japan, I decided to take a few days in advance to see the sights. Following the advice of the member of this group who lives in Japan, I stayed at the Shangri-La. The service is simply amazing!

First, they met me at the train station to walk me back to the hotel — not just at the train station but at the specific car I was riding in. Next, they checked me into my room inside my room so I could be comfortable. Of course the room had nice chocolates and other treats of significance in Tokyo and this amazing view (see below):

exceptional level of service


And it didn’t end there. Anything I needed, they literally jumped to service. They walked me directly to the concierge since I was so busy before the trip, I had done close to no planning except for what a friend and colleague provided. I signed up for 3 all-day tours, and, of course, a hotel employee walked me to the meeting point on a daily basis to make sure I didn’t have any issues and so that they could coordinate my every need. I have to say…..it is easy to get spoiled at such a hotel!

One tip to implement this week:

What are you doing to provide this level of service to your customers? Are you providing what they have asked for or what they would love if they knew to ask for it? For example, I had no idea I needed someone to walk me to my tour (and truly I don’t think I “needed” it on the third day but they made it so easy, I just followed along). Perhaps you should start by thinking about what would make your service stand out from the crowd? What would you like if you were a customer? What would be on your mind? That might help you think about what would be most helpful.

And, remember, there is NO way these Shangri-La employees would provide me with such exceptional service is they didn’t enjoy their job. Are you taking care of your employees? Do they know how important service is to you? No matter what you SAY; they will follow how you ACT. Think about what your actions are saying.

If you are an employee and don’t feel like you have control over your customers, do not despair. You have FAR more control than you think. Figure out who your customers are (perhaps the department that receives your work product) and treat them like they are special. Let me know if you notice a difference….


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Navigating the Global Supply Chain

October 13th, 2016

supply chain

Last week, I participated in the development of the Supply Chain Roadmap 2025. It will result in a compilation of what more than 100 industry thought leaders had to say about the future of material handling and logistics. It is quite an interesting process to take a step back from the daily grind and sometimes fire-fighting to think strategically and long-term. I look forward to the report coming out in the spring of 2017!

Similarly, I have been focused on finalizing the executive panel for APICS Inland Empire’s upcoming symposium on navigating the global supply chain — we have an amazing lineup of experts! Certainly many topics crossed over between these two events.

global supply chain

Join us for intriguing discussions with manufacturing and logistics thought leaders — learn more and register here. We are connected globally more than ever before. I cannot name a client who isn’t connected with another country when looking at their extended supply chain and the maze of suppliers and customers. Thus, it is worth learning how to effectively navigate these waters!

One tip to implement this week:

At first glance, it seems a bit challenging to figure out what can be done in a week. However, since the global supply chain is all around us, it isn’t that hard after all. How about we start by taking stock? What connections do you have when thinking globally

Perhaps your company has international locations? Suppliers? Customers? If not, go one layer deeper. Do any of your suppliers have global suppliers? How about your end users? Where are they located? Or do you utilize distribution? Are they global? How about your transportation partners? UPS and FedEx certainly are global! And, let’s not forget your trade associations like APICS — they are global. Soon, you’ll have an interesting map evolving. Share your findings with your colleagues.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


Why Customers Rule

September 28th, 2016

supply chain

Last weekend, I attended APICS 2016 in Washington DC, and one of the keynote speakers was Bill McDermott, SAP’s CEO (pictured below with Abe, APICS’s CEO). He gave a motivating talk about a variety of topics. One of the key themes is that customers (consumers) rule! And, if you think about it, one set of customers includes your employees. Thus, you need to know what both think and want!

One of his stories from his younger career is when he was sent to lead the worst performing division of Xerox. Listening to his employees and customers turned it from last to first in one year. Talk about powerful!

Bill McDermot SAP CEO

In essence, all businesses should be concerned about what their customers – both up and down the supply chain (including consumers) — want. The better understanding you have of demand, the more successful you’ll be in exceeding expectations — with the opportunity to do so at the lowest cost, driving win-win profit.

One tip to implement this week:

So, this week, start asking your customers and employees what is important to them. You might not even have to open your mouth — start listening to what is said AND what isn’t said. I guarantee you will learn something new that could prove invaluable. Look for win-win opportunities. How can you make sure they become raving fans without spending a dime?

Once you talk with a group of customers, look for trends. What do you see and hear? And, how about your employees (and peers)? I’ve yet to meet a client with happy customers and unhappy employees. What does that tell you?

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Why Customer Service Trumps All

September 13th, 2016
customer service

Start with building a customer service culture with your employees to give your clients reason to come back and refer you to others.

Although we work on many topics impacting manufacturers and distributors, we have found that the most popular — and vital — is customer service. Prior to the recession, most companies called for our inventory management expertise and how to understand and manage costs (and therefore strategically price); however, since the recession, almost everyone that calls has some element of the customer in their conversation.

As our passion surrounds customer service which must start with your customers (your employees), we love this development. From a financial point-of-view, the customer has a profound impact on business performance. Clients call for every one of these reasons:

  • Business growth – certainly, you have no hope of growing your business unless you serve your customers well. Specifically, in today’s Amazon-impacted world, it must be an assumption.
  • Delivery performance – unfortunately, there are a vast number of ways companies can get into trouble with delivery performance. There has to be at least 20 different processes that impact whether product and services will be delivered in a timely basis. And, that is before you talk about people and culture…. If you cannot deliver on time, not only will you incur extra costs in expediting but you’ll lose orders (perhaps even ones you don’t know about).
  • Lead Times – every client talks about lead times. Customers are demanding a 50% reduction in lead times. Shortening the cycle translates to money and cash flow.
  • Value-added service – we must stand out from the crowd with exceptional service — forget about growing the business, this is essential to MAINTAIN the business (and to have a decent work life). How are you adding value for your customers? It is not all about price! Do you provide service options? Do you provide value add ideas and options? When my laptop crashed, I was very interested in those companies that would expedite, no matter the fee.
  • Margins & profit – do you look at service with a win-win eye? You better start! No one can afford win-lose propositions any longer. Find a way to increase your customers’ profits while increasing yours.
  • Cash flow – an area tied directly to service is inventory positioning and levels. If you can count on high levels of service, you won’t need to carry as much inventory. Every dollar not tied up in your warehouse is a dollar you can invest into the business, your people and your life.
  • Controlling overhead costs – This might sound strange but it frequently arises. If you need to upgrade your infrastructure as business grows and/or complexity increases, a compelling reason not to ignore this need is customer service. For example, if you have an ERP system that is highly customized and no longer will expand with your business, it will result in customer service challenges. Of course, most clients will attempt to address these issues without impacting customers. Since their business isn’t scalable, they will have to employ people to fill the gap. And, instead of automating these tasks, the manual workload increases errors — impacting service levels.

Clearly, customer service should rise to the top of your list in terms of priorities — assuming you want to maintain and grow your business and/or would like to enjoy your work life. What programs are you pursuing to take your service to an entirely new level? What ideas do you have to take a leap forward?

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:

Staples and the Power of Customer Service

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?


Big Customer Promises

August 25th, 2016

supply chain

Last week, I met with my marketing team on several topics. One of the key areas, stemming from the strategy session with my international advisory board in Sydney is “what is my unique differentiation and value proposition”. I have always been passionate about providing exceptional service which ONLY can occur if you have empowered and engaged employees. Thus, we decided upon “I work with manufacturers and distributors (with deep expertise in aerospace, building products and food industries) to make and KEEP bold customer promises by empowering people with profit-driven strategies. From my point-of-view, the promises and profit have to go hand in hand.

As we developed this statement, my marketing guru asked me about my bold customer promise. I thought that was a great question (and I had never thought about it for me) yet it was easy to answer — my clients will get results.

So, what does this have to do with pancakes?!? The weekend prior I went on a food tour of La Jolla — quite amazing! We went to Richard Walker’s Pancake House on the tour, and returned the next day for a pancake spread. Richard Walker is known for gourmet pancakes, and they refuse to expand beyond the capabilities in San Diego and IL (their flagship store is in Schaumburg, IL, which coincidentally is where I grew up!) because they want to maintain their bold customer promise of high quality gourmet pancakes and breakfasts. Although I am definitely a wheat pancake with nuts, chocolate chips and bananas person, we tried several and this German pancake is simply amazing (see below).

customer promises

One tip to implement this week:

So, what is your bold customer promise? We ALL have customers, whether our customers are other departments within our company, our boss or traditional customers for product and services.

For this week, don’t get too worked up trying to think about your bold customer promise. Start by thinking about your view of your customers. Do you know what they want? A fantastic-sounding bold customer promise does nothing for them if they don’t care about it! If you get to know what your customers want and need to be successful, it will go a long way.

For example, my customers typically want growth, improved customer service levels, increased profit, quicker cash cycles and engaged employees. However, each customer is different. Making these assumptions will be useless if I meet a customer who just wants to improve repute.

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”