Supply Chain as a Customer Fulfillment Strategy

Customers are very important stakeholders in the success of any business. In order to attract new customers and retain the existing ones, a business organization should come up with strategies to ensure that its customers are fully satisfied with the quality of goods and services offered to them by the company. The customer service department and the supply chain department have a great responsibility of ensuring that the needs of customers are fulfilled (Conchran 46). A company that is able to successfully deliver goods and services to its customers fulfils their needs. Customer fulfillment is a very important business function in the modern business world that is very competitive.

E-commerce has increased significantly in recent times and therefore customer fulfillment has become a central function in the operation of many online businesses (Coyle 123). Supply chain is a traditional customer fulfillment method where companies contract warehouses and distributers to deliver goods and services to customers on behalf of the company. Outsourcing for quicker delivery systems ensures that customers receive goods and services on time. This paper will highlight some of the most important customer fulfillment strategies in relation to supply chain management.

The price of products does very little when it comes to customer fulfillment (Jespersen 209). Fair prices may be good but can not make any difference if the products are of poor quality and are not delivered on time. Companies should focus on producing quality products according to the expectations of customers in order to enhance customer fulfillment. Discounts can not bring customer satisfaction if the quality of products does not meet the required standards. Companies have to keep in touch with all technological changes in the market in order to retain their customers (Coyle 99). The purchasing experience in companies can be improved through the use of technology and in the process facilitating customer fulfillment.

Companies can not in any way create value for customer needs if there are no customer needs in the first place (Leeman 64). The existence of all businesses depends on customer needs. Understanding the needs of customers is very important in coming up with strategies to satisfy them. The quality of products and services plays a very significant role in customer satisfaction. Quality products must have the right features that can enable them to function well. Products must also look good and attractive to customers. The functionability of a product is the most important aspect that can attract or turn away customers. The quality control department should ensure that all the products being released to the market are of high quality and meet the expectations of customers. The price of a product is in most cases determined by its cost of production. The cost of producing a quality product is considerably high and therefore companies should look for ways of minimizing the cost of production for their customers to enjoy fair prices (Buttlle 34). The cost of delivering products and services is sometimes very high with chain supply being the best option when it comes to reducing the delivery cost. Customers value certain products for different reasons and it is therefore important to understand how customers value a particular product before coming up its price.

The value of customer needs can also be created through the ability of a company to demonstrate flexibility when it comes to meeting the unique needs of customers (Jespersen 211). Companies should be flexible enough to make various changes and adjustments according to the needs of a customer. Customers feel valued when their demands are met by the company. Customer fulfillment comes when products and services are delivered to the hands of customers on time. Companies that use a supply chain have a big advantage because their goods and services can reach customers wherever they are without any delay. The need to receive goods and services on time is one of the most fundamental needs of customers.

The quality of services and products can be improved through innovation (Jespersen 89). Designing products with new features can help a great deal in creating value for the needs of a customer. Creating new brands and improving the features of the existing ones to satisfy the changing needs of customers is very important in customer satisfaction. The needs of customers keep on changing and therefore sticking with old technologies and systems does no add any value to the ever changing customer needs.

Synergies involve relationship selling where products and services are made according to the customer’s specification (Mentzer 35). Synergies are aimed at building long-time relationships with customers. Responding to the queries and complaints of customers promptly is some of the best ways of enhancing total customer satisfaction. After-sales services are also very important when it comes to creating value for customer needs under synergies. Maintaining a continuous relationship with customers is very important when it comes to increasing value for their needs. Supporting customers and meeting all their specifications is a very good gesture in maintaining a selling relationship with customers (Hieber 125). High quality products and services should be made available to customers within the deadline of delivery in order to earn their trust and build a very good business relationship. Creating value for each customer’s needs is one of the most effective ways of improving customer satisfaction. Customers are always willing to buy products at a higher price as long the products represent the value for their needs.

There are quite a variety of strategies that customers can use in order to increase customer satisfaction (Hieber 126). Customer service strategies are very essential in improving customer satisfaction. To begin with, it is important to recruit and train the right staff to serve in the customer service department. Companies should have special training programmes to train the staff in the customer service department in people skills. Customer service qualifications should be checked before hiring employees. Organizations should make their employees happy in order to retain them. A happy staff is always proud to work for the company and at the same time treat the customers well (Kim 36). Companies should recognize the importance of customer loyalty and work towards making more customers to be loyal to the organization. The management in companies should lead by example when it comes to improving customer service. The employees who deal directly with customers should get full support from management.

Customer complaints should be welcomed and addressed accordingly in order to enhance customer satisfaction (Kim 72). All the issues raised by customers should be dealt with in order to avoid similar complaints in the future. Companies should always look for ways of improving their processes internally without having to wait for complaints and queries from customers. Cost reduction methods should be utilized cautiously so that the quality of goods and services is not compromised by cost reduction initiatives. Companies should benchmark the performance of its employees in order to make the necessary changes if the company is lagging behind in terms of performance compared to its competitors (De Koster 145). Communication is an important element of customer service that needs to be improved by companies. The reputation of a company is very important in attracting and retaining customers. Companies should come with effective communication strategies to ensure that customers are always informed about the developments in the company.

Customer loyalty can only be achieved through customer satisfaction. Responding quickly to all customer inquiries is one of the ways through customer satisfaction can be improved (Kim 98). An effective communication system ensures that complaints, queries and inquiries are attended to in the quickest way possible. Companies should also inquire from clients their preferred mode of response. There are those who prefer online response while others prefer a telephone response. Contacting customers using their preferred methods ensures that they receive any kind of communication from the company in the quickest way possible. Personalizing customer service enhances customer satisfaction because customers feel very special. Companies that think from their customers’ point of view will be able to deliver goods and services that meet the expectations of customers. This strategy is very important when it comes to planning marketing initiatives.

Educating customers is the best way of managing their expectations (Taylor 233). Customers should be able to understand the vision of the company and its future plans. This initiative helps a great deal in building trust and informing customers on how the company is different from competitors, and this makes them to feel enlightened. Magazines and blogs are commonly used to educate customers about the company and the industry in general. Companies should conduct customer surveys on a regular basis to get useful information about the response of customers on their goods and services. Surveys enable companies to improve their business approach and methodologies with an aim satisfying the needs of customers (Taylor 233).

Customer success is another important aspect of customer satisfaction that can improve the performance of a company (Mentzer 182). Products and services produced by a company can be used to improve a client’s business or organization. Companies come up with systems to ensure that customers enjoy a great success with their products and services. The influence a particular product makes in the life of customers can encourage them to become good evangelists for the company’s products and services. The success of a company depends on the success of its customers. Companies should go out of their way to support their customers in their quest to become successful. Support issues should be addressed as quickly as possible on a regular basis (Mentzer 143). Companies can help customers change the way they run their businesses or organization through their products and services.

The success that customers enjoy after using a particular company’s products and services in their business is enough to make them more satisfied. Some products go through various intermediaries before reaching the end customer. The end customer is the one who actually uses or consumes the product. It is important to ensure that the quality of products and services reaching the end customer are of high quality and are able to make a difference in the customer’s life (Buttle 118). The success of the end customer comes when the product or service delivered to them meets their personal needs and expectations. An example of this is when perfume users become very attractive and admirable because of the perfume they used (Jespersen 154). This is an example on how the end customer success contributes to customer satisfaction.

Customer centric fulfillment strategies are very important in building customer loyalty and relationships (Buttle 122). Customer fulfillment strategies should be matched to customers in order to address their real issues and other personal needs. Customer analysis involves studying the needs, expectation and the purchasing behavior of customers with an aim of providing them with better services. Customer analysis is very important when conducting market segmentation. Supply chain analysis involves a quantitative analysis of the sequence of operations from the delivery of raw material until the time when the manufactured product reaches the hands of a customer.

The interaction between chain actors should be analyzed to ensure that the delivery of products to customers is not affected in any way (Hieber 178). The relative importance of all agents in the supply chain is determined during supply chain analysis and helps a great deal in creating economic accounts. Supply chain segments that do not use time and monetary resources in the right way are not beneficial when it comes to customer fulfillment. The competency of employees should be analyzed by companies to ensure that employees with formal customer service qualifications work for the company.

The relationship intensity between customers and companies plays a big role in the customer centric fulfillment strategy (Coyle 146). Each company has its customers of choice and should put the right initiatives in place to ensure that it retains them and wins those who are yet to be won. High valued relationships between companies and customers go beyond the transitional relationships. This is a case where a company is willing to do extra things for a customer in order to retain him or her. This actually depends on the quantity of goods or services that the preferred client purchases from the company. Transactional relationships are formed when a customer is given some special attention during the buying and selling process (Coyle 146). Managing customer relationship is very crucial when a company wants to remain profitable. Customer education and after-sale services are some of the strategies that companies use to manage customer relationship and enhance customer success.

Customer fulfillment is a very important business function that has benefited many organizations through customer satisfaction (Taylor 237). However, this important business function still faces quite a number of challenges in many organizations. There are quite a number of barriers to effective customer fulfillment. To begin with, many employees lack training in customer fulfillment. Many companies are reluctant to commit resources for training their employees in customer service and fulfillment. Training is very essential because it helps employees to familiarize with basic customer service concepts. Most companies do not measure the performance of their employees to know the employees who are underperforming.

Customer fulfillment requires a hardworking and committed staff in order for a company to achieve its goals regarding customer fulfillment (Taylor 237). In some instances, the employees are not empowered to personally implement and promote customer fulfillment strategies. Customers who are not empowered fear raising queries and complaints and in the process making it difficult for their needs to be fulfilled. Company and government policies can also be a barrier to effective customer fulfillment. Company policies should be flexible enough to allow quick delivery of products and services to customers (Leeman 161). Laws governing supply chain should enhance customer fulfillment without complicating things.

In conclusion, it is important to note that customer fulfillment requires a lot of effort and commitment from companies. The sustainability of organizations depends on how well the organizations treat their customers. Creating value for customer needs is one way of making customers to be loyal to an organization. The timely delivery of goods and services makes customers to prefer some companies to others. Customer satisfaction is achieved when a company comes up with customer service initiatives that bring success in the life of a customer (Taylor 112). The customer centric fulfillment strategy aims at personalizing customer service in order to build high valued and transactional relationships between the company and its customers. Customer fulfillment strategies should be matched to customers in order for companies to reap its benefits (Conchran 155). Customers feel very special and valued when they are given some personal attention by companies. Lack of employee training and unfavorable company policies are some of the barriers to effective customer fulfillment.

Works Cited

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De Koster, Rene. Supply Chain Management: European Perspectives, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press DK, 2005. Print.

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Jespersen, Birgit. Supply Chain Management: In Theory and Practice, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press DK, 2005. Print.

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Leeman, Joris. Supply Chain Management, London: BoD Books on Demand, 2010. Print.

Mentzer, John. Supply Chain Management, New York: SAGE, 2000. Print.

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