How Understanding Your Customers Can Strengthen Your Supply Chain

As an electronic products manufacturer, you are probably well aware that competition in your industry is often cutthroat. Because your end users have so many options, you strive to obtain your wireless connectivity, circuits, sensors, microcontrollers, etc. from vendors like Silicon Labs Inc, upon whom you can rely for high quality and on-time delivery. Just as you are their customer, your end users are yours. In a similar way, maintaining a customer-centric supply chain will benefit everyone in the network.

Customer insights lead to better service

Step back for a minute, and think about the computers, televisions or cellphones you manufacture. What features make what you sell unique? How are buyers affected when quality, price or delivery time changes? Walking in your customers’ shoes can help you to grasp the real-life impact of an efficient supply network.

Buy-in is a must

For most electronics manufacturers, the supply chain they operate is intricate and multifaceted, involving a maze of raw materials providers, manufacturers, logistics teams, governmental entities and often fourth-party organizations. In an industry that all too often fixates upon low price or on-time delivery at the expense of quality, you must make it your business to ensure that all of the players in your network understand that customer service is your top priority. Of course, in order for that to happen, you need to have a clear idea of what your customers value so that you can motivate your entire in-house and third-party team to meet their requirements.

Make it happen

When you work together with everyone in your network to exceed customers’ expectations, you will be doing more than making buyers happy. You will also be establishing an environment where communication and transparency are built into your daily supply chain operations. By so doing, you will be well-positioned to discover potential problems and address them before they weaken your entire infrastructure. The end result will be a diverse team that works together to achieve a common goal.

As you contemplate moving toward a more customer-focused supply network, ask the following questions:

  • What financial resources will you need?
  • How long do you expect the changeover to a customer-focused supply chain to take?
  • How will these modifications impact your customers, and how will you measure outcomes?
  • How will your improvements make your company more competitive and profitable?
  • What internal and third-party stakeholders will be involved?
  • Who exactly are your customers, and what are their needs and priorities?

Generally, customer expectations will have to do with product features, availability, how it will be distributed/delivered, quality and value. The more specific the information you obtain from end users about their best-case scenario goals and product must-haves, the better able you will be to tailor your supply chain accordingly.`

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.