Enhancing customer experience through supply chain visibility and communications

Enhancing customer experience through supply chain visibility and communications

In the dynamic landscape of modern business models, supply chain visibility is a pivotal factor in elevating customer experience (CX).

This is traditionally an area that’s very much the territory of company logistics or operations departments. However, now that many businesses are giving consumers direct visibility of order times and stock levels through mobile apps, the supply chain is also an area that will interest communications and marketing functions.

In addition, public relations (PR) also has a role to play in improving customer experience and ensuring that an organisation’s strengths in supply chain and customer relationship management are communicated, and any weaknesses are mitigated.

By delving into the critical intersection of supply chain management and communication strategies, we can illustrate how businesses can enhance CX by leveraging transparent supply chains, digital channels and astute PR practices.

The importance of transparent communication

If a customer wants to buy from you but can’t see clear information on whether the item they want is in stock, and when it will be delivered to them, they’ll shop elsewhere.

Transparent communication with existing and potential buyers can increase loyalty and boost customer satisfaction: once customers feel they’ve experienced reliable service and a stress-free experience once, they’re more likely to shop with you again and recommend you to others.

On top of knowing something’s in stock when they order, real-time updates on shipping status and potential delays can maintain trust even if there are issues after the product leaves your warehouse. If you’ve proactively given your customers a method of finding out what’s going on, you’ll reduce frustration because they won’t need to take the time to contact you to chase up their purchase.

Using PR as a CX tool

A great way to support your customer communication is through the effective use of public relations. If you make improvements to your supply chain, communicating this to the media can help potential consumers become aware of your achievements and, if they’ve had poor customer experiences with supply chain visibility elsewhere, can check out your offering.

For example, if you make improvements to the environmental or social impact your supply chain has – through storage, components, manufacturing process, raw materials, labour and so on – PR is a great way to find customers whose values mirror yours.

A robust PR strategy is important, in addition, to ensure you have a plan in place for what you’ll do if things go wrong. If your product is on a ship that sinks, or a postal strike means you can’t meet your obligations, you’ll want a plan in place for how you’ll tell people. It’s far better to get ahead of things and deliver the bad news as soon as you’re aware there’s an issue than hope your loyal customers won’t notice their parcel is late while they sit at home seething and vowing never to buy from you again.

Staying on top of real-time updates

Understanding your customers’ behaviour can reveal what real-time updates they need. Do they tend to come back and buy something else before their first order’s been dispatched? If so, letting them know when they’ve got a 30-minute window before their product leaves the warehouse could encourage them to act quickly to add another product. This not only lets you save on postage and packaging costs but gives them the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by scheduling one rather than two deliveries.

If you find that customers usually pay extra for speedy delivery, you could consider giving regular updates on the timeslot when their package will arrive, or allow them to track their delivery driver in real-time.

Proactive communication helps to manage customer expectations and gives them confidence that they’ve made the right decision in buying from you. CX starts as soon as someone hears about your brand, not when their purchase arrives.

Social media for customer satisfaction

Social media platforms are an amazing way to monitor your customer experience. If your buyers aren’t getting deliveries on time, or are annoyed about lack of communication from your business or poor customer experience, they will take to social media to try and have their problem rectified.

It can also be a good way to prove what’s working well. If clients are posting unboxing videos of your products because they love the beautiful presentation of the product within the packaging, that can be justification for keeping that ribbon that isn’t a strictly necessary cost.

As well as capturing customer data and sentiment online, you can also have direct conversations with your users, solving any CX issues before they escalate and risk damaging your brand reputation. Publicly responding to negative comments can answer others’ queries before they come up, and help build trust that CX is at the heart of your brand.

Your own social media profiles can also disseminate information about supply chain delays quickly. Although not a positive message in its own right, swift communication about issues showcases your brand’s commitment to transparency and builds trust with customers.

The benefits of collaborative partnerships

A great way to shout about your commitment to CX is to collaborate with suppliers and partners in supply chain visibility initiatives.

You can highlight cases where joint communication efforts have led to improved CX due to better information sharing. People like to be in the driving seat, and if they believe that transparent communication will make their customer journey and purchase experience go smoothly, they’re far more likely to buy from you.

The more that people purchase directly from businesses, the more opportunity there is for negative comments to be shared online or by word-of-mouth. Buyers are far more likely to share their experience when it goes wrong than if there’s no story because it went smoothly. This makes it more important than ever to focus on customer interactions with CX and SCM.

Making the most out of your customer experience

Cultivating a seamless and satisfying CX starts by understanding the symbiotic relationship between supply chain visibility, customer experience management and effective communications.

Supply chain management is vital for any marketing or PR activity: there is no point in marketing a product to a customer if it is out of stock.

Sharing updates proactively about positive customer experience and leveraging PR techniques can increase customer loyalty and overall satisfaction, reduce marketing costs and even improve employee retention if customer service staff spend less time dealing with phone calls from unhappy clients.