Customer Service and Supply ChainsI was just browsing some articles about customer service in supply chain and oddly, as I looked through them, my hackles started to rise … and here’s why:

Without naming names, here are a few statements that I read in some of these supposedly helpful tomes:

“Improving customer service can save money for your company”

“It’s important to integrate customer service into the supply chain”

“Reverse logistics as a customer service practice”

Rather than having any “Aha” moments, I experienced a number of “huh?” moments. Because clearly when it comes to customer service and supply chain, many so-called authorities just don’t seem to get it. In fact, it seems that the whole supply chain world needs to step back and take a reality check regarding customer service and supply chain or, more accurately, supply chain and customer service.


Supply Chains and Customer Service Are the Same Thing

If you or anyone else in your supply chain company adheres to the paradigm of customer service as a facet of supply chain activity, here comes the reality check: Supply chain is customer service.

What we should talk about is not how to improve the customer service element of supply chain, but how we can use our supply chain to improve customer service.

In short, your organisation’s supply chain defines the effectiveness of your customer service. It defines the customer experience and it defines your company’s image in the eyes of your customers.


The Importance of a Customer-focused Supply Chain

So … to steal some of the words of John F. Kennedy’s school headmaster (from whom Kennedy himself apparently stole them), as you journey through your supply chain career, ask not what customer service can do for your supply chain, but what your supply chain can do to improve customer service.

You can read much, much more about the importance of a customer-centric supply chain and why customer needs should shape supply chain strategy in my book The 7 Supply Chain Keys. The book covers this and six other key supply chain concepts that together, can greatly enhance management effectiveness. A summary of The 7 Supply Chain Keys can be found at the Supply Chain Secrets Books page.


Contact Rob O'Byrne
Best Regards,
Rob O’Byrne
Phone: +61 417 417 307