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  April 20th, 2022 | Written by

7 Customer Service Tips for your Supply Chain

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Between persistent worldwide labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge. Almost 30% of directors surveyed by BDO identify chain disruptions as “their greatest business risk” ahead. Yet, increased customer demand and heightened customer service expectations remain factors to be addressed.

Supply chain strains in a new age of customer service

Saying that the global pandemic has strained supply chains would be a gross understatement. What Deloitte identified early as exposed vulnerabilities that “global supply chains at risk” is now verified and echoed by the U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who predicts that U.S. supply chain “challenges […] will continue into [2022]”.

Yet, between modern eCommerce’s sheer convenience and Amazon’s revolutionizing delivery, the average customer has come to expect excellence. Customer service strongly informs the Customer Experience (CX), with its effects rippling across satisfaction, retention, and advocacy. Studies find that 82% of customers expect supply chain transparency, consistent delivery updates, and swift, personalized customer service.

7 customer service tips for your supply chain

With this context in mind and seemingly no end in sight for global supply chain disruptions, customer service and supply chains must interweave toward a better CX. While the subject warrants intense
exploration, we may outline seven key steps in this process.

#1 Identify customer expectations and segment accordingly

As no two businesses or customer bases are identical, the initial step should be thorough data collection. For this phase, you may conduct surveys, engage in social media, and otherwise gather qualitative data on customer expectations. This will identify exact customer service optimizations you may deem desirable and profitable across your supply chain.

In addition, you may add customer service expectations as an additional segment filter for your audiences. Doing so will deepen your customer insights further, yielding more marketing and operational benefits even beyond customer service.

#2 Engage in business introspection

In turn, you may then focus your sights internally and examine your business’s inner workings. For this step, you will need to identify your business goals and positioning, so you may then weigh them against customer service optimizations.

Typical practices for this step include employee surveys and meetings with key partners and shareholders. How you do so will depend on your business size, scope, and goals, but you should, in all
cases, gauge your perceived customer service quality and supply chain collaboration levels, as well as the willingness to change.

#3 Align costs with service

Finally, before committing to changes to customer service across the supply chain, you may use your acquired insights to weigh costs against service improvements and expected gains. There is no quick
fix for the ongoing supply chain burdens, which you must account for.

This highly subjective step strongly hinges on your budget, exact customer needs and expectations, and internal sentiment. Still, going through it will help ensure you are not embarking on needlessly large- scale or otherwise ill-informed business journeys.

#4 Provide real-time order tracking

Once you have started implementing the changes you deemed appropriate, it’s highly advisable to provide customers with real-time order tracking. This practice is increasingly standard, but it also offers customers tangible transparency.

As regards CX, doing so meets near-universal customer expectations – as the aforecited MyCustomer study illustrated. It also helps combat the extremely common phenomenon of post-purchase anxiety. In combination, the two will, in turn, often ease the strain on your customer service departments as well.

#5 Automate customer service

Nonetheless, customer service queries will always pour in. For this reason, you may leverage technology to automate customer service and further ease the strain on your representatives.

For this step, you may consider chatbots, whose adoption rates and efficiency are increasing, live chat options, self-service resources, etc. Should your existing assets like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) allow it, you may also automate query acknowledgment and task delegation.

#6 Homogenize customer service across subsidiaries

As you do, you must ensure all subsidiaries offer a coherent experience regarding customer service. CX consistency is a critical component of customer satisfaction and can best inspire trust in a time when the Edelman Trust Barometer stresses it is sorely needed.

To do so, you may homogenize staff training and clearly and consistently communicate the values you want them to uphold. You may, by all means, adapt subsidiaries’ identities to meet unique location- based needs; still, customer service quality should remain consistent.

#7 Continue to monitor your efforts

Finally, as with all business endeavors, you should continue monitoring your post-implementation efforts. Doing so will help ensure you always have a clear overview of customer sentiment and brand perceptions, so you may correct your course as needed.

For this perpetual step, you may continue conducting surveys, collecting feedback across channels, and more. Combine qualitative with quantitative data, such as that collected in your CRM or other
databases, to refine and fine-tune accordingly.

In closing
To summarize, customer service across the supply chain has become a profoundly vital factor to consider. Customers expect transparency and swift, effective, personalized customer service more than ever before. For businesses, ensuring these qualities helps counterbalance the impact of supply chain disruptions on CX and customer satisfaction and retention. While rudimentary, this list hopefully substantiated this claim and outlined a safe process you may follow.

About the author
Brian Williams is a freelance copywriter and web developer based in Houston, TX. He is an avid SEO practitioner with a keen interest in CRM and its wealth of applications in modern business. He frequently contributes content to and other companies in the relocation industry, where he shares his insights on audience segmentation, branding, local SEO, and other valuable business practices. In his spare time, he enjoys the great outdoors no less than the vast digital world.