Customer satisfaction is all-important, especially in the days of social media, where poor service can severely impact brand reputations among B2B manufacturers. When considering customer satisfaction, it's common to look at front-end factors like service, personalisation, and convenience. Basics like value for money, availability, lead-time, and quality are also essential.
However, customer satisfaction can be driven by mechanisms largely invisible to the end client. Among these, supply chain issues are perhaps the single most important factor in determining price, service level and product availability. But manufacturing supply chains are often complex and may be subject to disruptions that are outside of your direct business control.
So, how are supply chain issues causing problems for your customers, and what can be done to improve them?
Manufacturing Supply Chain Problems
When your supply chain is working like clockwork, product delivery is synchronised, prices are reasonable, and everyone is happy. Supply chain optimisation is a business imperative. Logistical efficiencies, effective navigation of markets and efficient planning pay huge dividends. However, optimum supply chain configuration is only possible in relatively stable conditions.
Recent events have shown us how easily this stability can be disrupted. The Covid pandemic and war in Ukraine have each raised significant challenges for businesses. For the UK and many EU countries, Brexit has also caused difficulties, with logistics and trading with Europe now requiring businesses to update their procedures. For example, customs checks are now required for goods sent between the EU and UK. Businesses need to take on a range of commodity codes specifying quotas, duties, licensing, and labelling requirements and so on. Plus, certification to prove compliance with EU standards is needed at EU borders. Problems with any of these aspects can cause significant delays in transit.
The Covid pandemic has had even wider effects. The suspension of factories internationally has interrupted manufacturing, causing product shortages and bottlenecks that may not be resolved until next year in some cases. And with port closures and transit interruptions, shipping has been significantly affected. As a major exporter, China's zero-Covid policy, especially, has had wide repercussions on international supply chains. International logistics normally achieves its efficiencies within the tightest of schedules, but as shipping containers clog up ports, knock-on effects of loading and unloading, or rerouting to other destinations, can mean delays of weeks or more and add significant costs to the overall project.
Improving Supply Chains
With these difficulties persisting, buyers have encountered their effects as rising prices, limited product availability and unpredictable delivery times. It's not hard to see why customers may become dissatisfied. While there is little that individual businesses can do to prevent the root causes of these disruptions, many are taking preventive actions to improve their customers' experiences.
For example, moving production facilities or industrial logistics closer to home can improve stability. Reshoring to the UK and localisation cut out many of the international factors in supply chain disruption. This isn’t to say that businesses should stop working with international supply partners, but by investing in improved local infrastructures, businesses can secure more resilient supply chains, as well as reduce the cost of logistics and save on carbon emissions.
Benefits For Customer Satisfaction
Temporary disruptions can be weathered, but customers will soon look to other sources if they face unreliability and high prices from their suppliers. There are, however, options that businesses have to improve customer satisfaction by mitigating supply chain risks. With global headwinds continuing, it's wise to consider what improvements you can make, for your customers' benefits and your own.
It is also worth ensuring you continue to look for opportunities on offer as many larger businesses are now on the look out for suppliers closer to home in order to mitigate their own supply disruptions, but these are rarely advertised so research is key, and collaboration and sharing of these opportunities imperative, particularly for SME’s.
For more information about supply chain optimisation and how Hone-All can help you save time and costs, contact us today.