We sometimes forget the importance of satisfying end customers in a manufacturing business, where we’re often consumed with day-to-day aspects of keeping the production line running, like maintaining production equipment, ensuring staff to run the machines, loading trucks, and ensuring sufficient raw materials. Yet, without high customer satisfaction, the need for your operation quickly disappears. Hence, today we discuss how to boost customer satisfaction in a manufacturing business.
Running a manufacturing business is no easy task, as there are so many different variables involved in managing the many processes necessary to transform raw materials into finished products and more tasks storing and transporting finished goods to buyers. Yet, an often overlooked aspect of your manufacturing business that requires time and attention is customer service. Building a relationship with your customers, both intermediate customers such as retailers, and end customers, is vital for the longevity of your organization and you must spend resources to boost customer satisfaction along the supply chain.
When you fail to pay close attention to maintaining relationships with your customers, problems begin to arise. Standards throughout the business may begin to slide, resulting in declining quality of service. Providing sub-standard service not only results in you losing your contract with downstream partners, like retailers and customers, but it also impacts your reputation across the wider industry.
To safeguard your business’ reputation, you must nurture your customer relationships so as to prevent downstream partners from seeking alternative suppliers for their products and customers from choosing competing products.
There are several ways to nurture your customer relationships and strengthen them for future success. By combining these tactics you boost customer satisfaction at all levels of the supply chain to ensure continued success.
The modern supply chain
To understand how you boost customer satisfaction with downstream partners, let’s start by building a shared understanding of the modern supply chain. Check out this image showing the complex interrelationships involved in modern supply chains with the end goal of optimizing the customer experience.
Regardless of your particular supply chain, everyone involved in the process must share a singular focus on the customer experience if you wish to boost customer satisfaction. And, that means the supply chain must work like a well-oiled machine around that goal.
Unfortunately, the supply chain involves independent businesses like raw material providers, retailers, and wholesalers who have their own goals and work with a number of other businesses in addition to your manufacturing operation. Coordination and collaboration are the names of the game to boost customer satisfaction, which means you must boost customer satisfaction with every cog in your supply chain to meet (or exceed) customer demands.
Supply chain management
the management of the flow of goods and services and includes all processes that transform raw materials into final products. It involves the active streamlining of a business’s supply-side activities to maximize customer value and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace
In managing a supply chain, you must account for the physical flow of goods, as well as the flow of information as products move down the supply chain to assure efficiencies. That requires frictionless communication and a willingness to collaborate, which, as independent companies, requires finesse rather than reliance on coercion.
In my dissertation on building strong relationships along the supply chain, I showed the impact of social influence, as well as communication and participative decision-making on collaborative relationships.
The promise that the Internet would disintermediate relationships, ie. remove the need for collaborative relationships along the supply chain by allowing manufacturing businesses to sell directly to consumers never evolved. In part, that’s because the functions performed by intermediaries such as retailers and wholesalers can’t go away. They’re necessary for a functioning system.
Instead of disintermediation shifted to new partners. Now, rather than selling to a brick and mortar retailer, a manufacturer sells to an online retailer such as Amazon or eBay. Rather than replacing wholesalers, new wholesalers emerged such as UPS and FedEx, which now act as intermediaries to store and fulfill orders.
Boost customer satisfaction
As global competition rose and supply chains shortened, resulting in much greater levels of competition, end customers like you and me became more critical and our expectations of the products we buy grew. Today, a firm that wants to provide satisfying exchanges with end customers must do more and that means having strong, flexible relationships with partners all along the supply chain.
Here are some tactics needed to boost customer satisfaction among end consumers and how you must work with your supply chain to achieve efficiencies.
Product quality is a non-negotiable element of customer satisfaction. Producing poor quality products is a recipe for disaster, damaging your profitability and impacting your reputation to the point where you may never recover. In addition, sub-standard products involve additional costs to return and replace them.
However, anyone who ever cooked a meal or completed a DIY project knows there’s no way to produce a good end product when you start with poor inputs. Using a cheap board means waste as you cut out damaged or bent pieces and an end product with poor performance and appearance. Hence, you boost customer satisfaction for end consumers when you build strong relationships with suppliers so they provide the best inputs possible. If you don’t keep your best suppliers happy, you’ll soon find they prefer selling their great inputs to a competitor.
Ensuring your customer receives their delivery on time is essential to ensure customer satisfaction and beating your estimated delivery generates customer delight. Dispatching your delivery late generates effects throughout the supply chain, and may result in late deliveries and dissatisfaction. However, you can mitigate the damage caused by unavoidable delays by informing customers as soon as you discover a delay.
This means working with a logistics firm willing to ensure they meet your customer’s stringent delivery schedules. If you experienced shipping problems in the past, you need a more reliable alternative, and getting full-truckload freight shipping quotes for additional transportation firms makes sense.
Using full-truckload shipping means you don’t need to share the trailer with other deliveries and your goods have priority for the shipper.
All things being equal, everyone prefers cheaper to more expensive. And, the value-added costs accumulated along the supply chain are substantial. Thus, building strong relationships with partners improves efficiency that reduces the cost associated with your finished products and makes them cheaper for end customers.
For instance, by improving communication you reduce the need for large inventories, thus reducing cost. We call this JIT (just in time) manufacturing when raw materials arrive just as they’re needed on the assembly line, thus reducing the cost of warehousing and protecting raw materials from damage, as well as the financial cost of money tied up in them.
I hope today’s discussion helps manufacturing firms understand how managing their supply chain boosts customer satisfaction for end consumers. I welcome your comments below.
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