Tag Archive: Strongest Link

Are You Ready for a Surprise Inspection of Your Service?

March 14th, 2017
Who is responsible for service in your organization?

A commitment to stellar customer service is an ongoing process in which resources need to be dedicated to continuous improvement and exceeding customer expectations.

In almost every client, trade association and trusted advisor meeting I attend, service emerges as a hot topic. In today’s Amazon-impacted world, our expectations are high. Although we might not complain, good service is no longer sufficient.

If you don’t meet and frequently exceed expectations, you will lose customers. There are countless options available and loyalty runs only so deep. Thus, it makes sense to put aside time to think over key questions with your team:

1. Who is responsible for customer care in your organization? Are they able to impact service?

2. How do you measure servicing success? And how does it align with how your customers measure it?

3. Are your employees empowered to handle requests without annoying approvals that delay the customer?

4. Do you view ALL people who interface with the customer as key to customer satisfaction? For example, the truck delivery personnel, the technician and the doorman?

5. Do you know what your customers value — delivery on-time, in complete, quick turnaround, frequent communications, suggestions that aid the customer, etc.?

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

Why Customer Service Trumps All

Why Customers Rule 

 



Case Study In Increasing On Time Delivery Performance

February 14th, 2017
on time delivery

Do you have a bottleneck that is impacting service to your customers? Finding the source and fixing that bottleneck will accelerate improvement and customer service.

Situation: Our client struggled with low customer service levels since they cut back with inventory on the ‘wrong’ items during a time of tight cash flow. Of course to add fuel to the fire, the customer also wanted product to be delivered at least 20% earlier, ideally 50% earlier.

If our client didn’t find a way to respond quickly, they would risk losing key customers.

Path Forward: Upon looking at the order fulfillment flow, there were countless areas of opportunity. However, simultaneously working on these solutions would tax already-maxed out resources (who also were frustrated by angry customers) and accomplish nothing.

If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. And, if you wait for all the details to align perfectly, you’ll start long after your key customers start looking to replace you. Instead, take a step back and do nothing except observe and take a fresh view of the people, processes and systems. Where are the vulnerabilities? Undoubtedly, each person/department will have a pet project. Eliminate all the noise and just look for the bottleneck.

Of course there could be more than one bottleneck but there will be one that is most significant. Start there. Find the source of this bottleneck and put all your resources on eliminating that bottleneck. If the bottleneck is in a particular area of your operation, the related supervisor is the most important person in the facility. If she/he needs help on a Saturday, everyone from the CEO to the line manager will find out how he/she can help. Solving these one at a time will accelerate improvement in delivery performance.

 

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

Slashing Lead Times to Counter the Amazon Effect 

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

 

 



Obsession with Your Customer

January 10th, 2017
customer service

Become a little more obsessed with what your customers want even before they know what they want to keep them your customers for a very long time.

One of our clients has a healthy obsession for the customer! It might drive some of his employees a little mad but it is effective. Adopting a bit of healthy obsession for your customers can go a long way!

In this case, our client was particular with every customer-facing document, interaction, piece of information and the like. This owner would keep track of who ordered what throughout each day, kept a pulse on what was going on vs. prior years, like years and would ask his employees who interacted with customers for customer feedback and the pulse of customers multiple times a day. Every employee and business partner/trusted advisor knew customers were important.

In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, keeping a pulse on customers is even more critical. Are you assuming what customers told you a year ago still holds true? Do you think it does? Probably not! Or are you relying on your salespeople to communicate changes to you? Do you prompt them or follow any proactive measures to make sure you find out what your customers prefer? Change is occurring on a rapid basis. Are you asking? For example, I’m sitting in first class on a flight to Dallas and they handed me a cookie for dessert. He didn’t ask whether I’d want it heated up (which is the first time that happened). That small difference made a huge difference to me. It wasn’t worth eating cold yet I’d have loved it heated up. I suppose it might be good that I didn’t eat it but this small question could have gone a long way with customer service.

Technology for technology’s sake is expensive and useless. Put it to work. If you have a CRM system, find a new way to use it that will give you valuable intelligence on your customers. If you have an e-commerce site, find a way to find out more about your customers — and potential customers. If you have access to business intelligence tools, use them to gain business intelligence on your customers’ needs. And, if you have Excel, you can still track key characteristics about your customers. Who doesn’t at least have Excel?! Become a little more obsessed with your customers.

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

Why Customers Rule 

Is Your Inventory System Working? 

 



Will Your Supply Chain Risk Surprise You?

November 15th, 2016
supply chain risks

What happens when you have a break in your supply chain? Do you have contingency plans in place to mitigate business interruption?

Supply chain risks abound! Just look at the recent bankruptcy of Hanjin. It created havoc in the global supply chain. Ships were virtually stranded on the water. No one knew how they’d get paid. Yet, customers still needed the product. And so the results were scary. Have you thought about these types of risks within your supply chain?

 

At our APICS Inland Empire executive panel and networking symposium, we had a panel of experts on navigating the global supply chain. A renowned international business attorney brought up a significant topic — what if a conflict brews in the South China sea? Your supply chain could stop in its tracks. What backup plans do you have?

 

How about natural disasters? We cannot control these but they have a BIG impact on our supply chain. Think about hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, volcanoes and many others. Unfortunately, they seem to occur at an increasing rate — or at least they quickly go viral. Recently, there was a fire along the 15 freeway in Southern CA on the road towards Las Vegas and the north. It created havoc beyond trucks stranded on the freeway. Manufacturers ran short on materials. Railroads and trucks were re-routed. Customers had to air freight if speed was essential. It even impacted the ports.

 

And there are many other risks. Security is a big topic alone. The bottom line is you must prepare for these risks. What will you do to ensure business continues?

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

Why Care About Supply Chain Risk?

Is Your Supply Chain Ready for Growth?

 

 



Hot Topics in Supply Chain Management?

October 11th, 2016
hot topics in supply chain management

Empower your operation by arming yourself with knowledge of supply chain trends. See the top four I learned from the APICS International Conference.

One of the reasons we attend the APICS International Conference is to understand what is trending in supply chain today. Which topics are “hot”?

1. Logistics – APICS’ new certification, CLTD (certified in logistics, transportation and distribution) is the hottest ticket in town. Not only were there many educational sessions about these topics, the APICS Inland Empire chapter gets inquiries every week about it. In today’s Amazon-impacted world, logistics is cornerstone to success – how else will you deliver exceptional customer service rapidly and cost-effectively?

2. SIOP (Sales & Operations Planning) – this is near and dear to my heart as a significant portion of LMA Consulting Group’s practice focuses on helping clients achieve significant results (growth, service, profit and cash) with SIOP. Check out our proprietary process, 4 EXCEL for driving exponential results with SIOP.

3. Data & the digital world – PwC published a report, “Connect and optimize; The new world of digital operations”. We are on the cusp of a digital revolution. It certainly has taken over the e-commerce and distribution world, and now it is taking over manufacturing and supply chains. Mobile technology, big data, the internet of things…

4. Risk – and, let’s not forget risk. There are countless risks when looking at your end-to-end supply chain. How can you develop a resilient supply chain? Have you thought about political risks, natural disasters, security risks, financial risks — and the list goes on.

Keep track of what is trending in your business. As my HR mentor used to say, “knowledge is power”. Do you have the power? If you’d like to get an assessment of your supply chain performance, contact us.

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

How to Manage Supply Chain Complexity

Is Your Inventory System Working?