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SAP: creating the customer-centric organisation

Supply Chain Digital examines SAP’s eGuide “Surviving and Thriving: How Supply Chain Leaders can minimise risk and maximise opportunities.”

|Jan 6|magazine7 min read

In the second of four articles, we zone in on the importance of a customer-centric organisation.

The COVID-19 pandemic showcased the importance of lean and efficient supply chains, highlighting the necessity for flexibility and innovation during uncertain times. In SAP’s global survey, 1,000 executives from business functions spanning the supply chain were asked questions about the state of the supply chain landscape and the current complex environment. A small group of companies were identified among its survey respondents that successfully managed their supply chains - named the Supply Chain Leaders. Their best practices were highlighted, enabling SAP to quantify the benefits of a well-run supply chain and a balanced approach to difficult objectives.

Customer satisfaction is a top strategic goal for lots of the organisations surveyed worldwide. 33% of all respondents outlined that increasing customer satisfaction is a top-three strategic goal for their overall businesses.

Supply Chain Leaders may have a more nuanced view of what satisfied customers than other respondents. Meeting customer demands requires everything from designing or personalising products based on customer feedback to manufacturing products in a more sustainable manner to delivering them sooner and maintaining them after sale. When asked to select the most important factors in achieving customer satisfaction, non-Leaders gravitated to the usual suspects - product and service quality, price, speed of the purchasing experience. Whilst those things remain key to Leaders, they were significantly more likely to pick responses including support through the product lifecycle (28% vs 15% of others) and ethical product sourcing (32% vs 15%). This showcases that Supply Chain Leaders are more likely to go above and beyond conventional approaches, making the important connection between sustainability and customer-centricity, as well as continuing to engage with customers after the product has been sold and delivered.

Innovation is central to maintaining customer satisfaction at North American consumer goods giant Unilever, according to Ana Lopez, VP of Manufacturing North America. “Innovation is what will fuel your fire,” says Lopez. “At the end of the day, there is no way you could be innovative without being very close to your customers and what they want. And sometimes they don’t even know what they want. But you have to be sensitive to what areas are on top and how you can better respond to those needs.”

Two thirds of the Supply Chain Leaders surveyed say that customer demands are driving most of their sustainability initiatives, in comparison to just over half of all other respondents to the survey. This concentration on the customer has paid off in several ways related to customer satisfaction, from product quality to customer service. As a result, it is clear that Supply Chain Leaders are aligned with customer needs and are delivering on most aspects of the customer experience. In addition, Leaders are more likely to say that meeting customer demand has grown easier during the past three years with almost 62% agreeing, compared to half of other respondents.

In today’s highly competitive environment, prioritising customer satisfaction has never been so important in order to encourage return business. By observing SAP’s eGuide, organisations can equip themselves with the information and knowledge they need to optimise operations and drive value in the supply chain. 

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