With truly global operations, hundreds of outsourcing partners and ever growing customer expectations, the mobile device industry deals with extraordinary operational challenges. At the same time, the market is becoming increasingly competitive and differentiation through an exceptional customer experience considered paramount. Supply chain management plays a critical role to achieve excellence in customer care.
In our recent blog post, we made the case that backend functions like supply chain and logistics and customer-facing frontend operations are “two sides of the same coin”. Today, we will dig a little deeper and explore the impact of supply chain management on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Supply chain is one of these business areas that are considered part of the backend operations of a company and the impact on the customer experience is often neglected. But as soon as we analyze the service preferences of customers around the globe it becomes obvious how essential the role of supply chain management in customer care really is.
Quick Turn-Around Time is Customer Priority – and Supply Chain Responsibility
At B2X, we frequently carry out research to understand the preferences of customers using smartphones and other mobile devices. In our global customer care study, which will be updated very soon, we asked approximately 3,000 smartphone and tablet users in Brazil, China, Germany, India and the US about their service preferences. We found that factors like speed, reliability and transparency have the biggest influence on customer satisfaction – and end-to-end supply chain management is a fundamental enabler for all of them:
Minimal downtime – Smartphones are an integral part of people’s life. Our research revealed that many people would rather give up their best friend than their smartphone. If a device fails or breaks, 49 percent expect a repair or replacement within 24 hours. The need for speed is one of the greatest challenges for supply chain management as it needs to ensure that repair centers always have the required spare parts or replacement units available. Logistics processes for picking up returned devices and returning repaired devices need to be seamlessly synchronized with customer-facing activities and build the link to the repair processes in the backend.
Delivery on promise – Not keeping a service promise is one of the most frustrating experiences. Customers who have been promised something that is not delivered in the end are far more disappointed than if expectations were set right from the beginning. At the same time, under-promising and over-delivering does not turn out to be a guarantee for high customer satisfaction rates either. What people are looking for is reliability – and a reliable service can only be delivered if all processes along the supply chain are reliable, too.
Transparency – Even though fast and reliable service processes are the ultimate customer service goals, people who have experienced a smartphone repair might know that things can sometimes go wrong. However, such situations do not have to result in a complete disaster. The best tactic is to provide people with relevant information about the situation, i.e. what happened to their smartphone, why it can’t be returned as fast as expected and when they can expect to get it back. Being open helps manage customer expectations but requires process visibility throughout the entire service supply chain.
In a recent study published by JDA Software, supply chain professionals from across different industries shared their priorities for the supply chain of the future. Unsurprisingly, improved supply chain visibility, advanced analytics and systems integration with partners were the top mentions and technology and data were seen as the key enablers to achieve better results in supply chain execution. Supply chain executives across the board see the digital integration of the supply chain as the next leap in order to better meet customer expectations in the future.
B2X operates a digitally integrated customer care ecosystem in 140 countries. With our SMARTCARE solutions, we help some of the leading mobile and electronic device brands in the world to provide fast, reliable and transparent service to their customers. How do you manage your customer care supply chain? Please write to us and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with the latest developments from the mobile market and B2X.
Summary: End-to-end supply chain management embraces the entire customer care process from the moment a customer experiences a problem with a device to the moment a repaired smartphone is being returned. Speed, reliability and transparency are the key drivers of customer satisfaction and all of them are the result of a comprehensive supply chain strategy with integrated processes and enabled by modern technology.
Wolf-Christof Matthaeus and Ehab Elhosary are Senior Managers Solution Design at B2X.