Customers no longer buy products and services, rather they buy experience. Customer experience weighs heavier than products and services. Here, the strategy is simple — understanding basic user behaviour.

Making a product with a customer-centric approach should be at the top of any company’s priority list. Company leaders understand the importance of user experience and the delivery of services to determine the success of any business. For instance, think about when you are unboxing a new cell-phone; the pleasure is immense, and the experience is memorable.

However, the question remains why companies focus equally on the packaging and the quality of the product. The answer to this justifies the entire notion behind customer experience. The more a product is customer-centric, the more you will remember the entire experience of the product. If the journey, service, and experience of the product are attractive and memorable, odds are that you will purchase the product again.

Establishing the need for customer centricity allows businesses to dive into ways to achieve it. Today, one of the most effective ways to achieve a customer-centric product or service is through digitisation. The key to this approach is to create a touchless supply chain.

After all, the age of technology and digitisation has dawned upon us, and harnessing them is the road to customer centricity. Now, CXOs realise the importance of aligning their company’s vision with digitisation to drive growth.

Dharmendra Patwardhan, Head of the Digital Supply Chain Practice for Business Services at Capgemini expressed his concern over businesses failing to formulate a digitised supply chain. He stated: “Digitisation of the supply chain will only be achieved by rationalizing current investments, progressing on those that can be shown to drive returns, and involving suppliers and distributors in the process of change.”

According to a study from Capgemini Research Institute, the return on investment (ROI) on automation in supply chain and procurement averaged 18 per cent, compared to 15 per cent for initiatives in human resources, 14 per cent in information technology, 13 per cent in customer service and 12% in finance and accounting. The benefits of digitising supply chain are immense and the added advantage of aligning it with customer-centricity might give businesses the boost they have been looking for.

Achieving Customer-centricity By Digitising The Supply Chain

C-suite leaders need to be aware of the impact of their decision on the company. As such, decision making forms the crux of any company. The need for imperative decision-making skills is essential for taking any step —from the implementation of new technology, identifying the demand and making a robust flow plan to the process of building a product.

Mentioned below are few measures to accomplish customer centricity by digital strategisation of the supply chain:

Utilising Data At Its Best

Businesses believe that sufficient data is needed to drive improved actions, however, it is not true. It is crucial to have a knack to optimise the present data across organisations. Data-driven actions can be taken to support real-time outcomes through the means of using data from various sources, both in and outside the organisation. Contextual customer responses are made faster via closely analysing the data and extracting useful customer response from it.

Knowing your customer builds trust and assists the business in providing them with exactly what they need. This can be fulfilled by using all the data points like the point of sale information, IoT sensor data, social media trends and data, purchasing patterns, preferences, etc. giving them that proverbial personal touch. In the current scenario, companies are capable of figuring out the best deals for a client by running algorithms which are entirely data based.

Optimal Utilisation Of Machine Learning

Businesses all across the globe recognise the need to implement machine learning to their system. A research study from Vanson Bourne found that 80% of enterprises have already deployed some form of AI with the expectations of yielding exponential returns. However, 91% of companies have to overcome various obstacles to implement machine learning appropriately. The major challenge narrows down to leveraging AI in a way which justifies the investment in it, surpass expectations of return on the same, and drive steady and substantial growth.

It is crucial for C-suite leaders to recognise the pervasiveness and significance of AI to stay ahead in the market. Additionally, they should be able to leverage machine learning capabilities in the digital business planning platform. Application of machine learning in everyday business enables them to achieve near to accurate predictions, interpret customer behaviour, efficiently manage time, improve meticulousness of financial rules and models, efficiently predict maintenance in the manufacturing industry, improve segregation of the customers, forecast demand, and streamline operations for the company.

For instance, the need for working capital can be identified by using the search data and customer behaviour data. The same situation arises for a television manufacturer who needs to identify the correct set of customers and identify the product’s performance in various areas. The historical data of a company is able to predict the demand pattern. To ensure seamless user experience on a platform, it is vital to have a digital business planning platform which can assess data, predict demand, and based on that create short-term plans. Machine learning tools empower leaders to automate the process. Using the insights obtained from machine learning and the previous records, future planning for any business can be improved.

Efficient Logistics With IoT

The logistics industry has benefited from automation as it can assist in fulfilling mass orders, manage heavy traffic on the company’s website, generate real-time reports, improve connectivity with overseas clients, and verify data in case of any errors or mismatch.

Demand Networks

Businesses look for a comprehensive view of the full demand network owing to the emergence and simultaneous convergence of buying channels. With machine learning, companies have an edge on being demand-driven. This leads to a responsive shift from a linear supply chain to a customer-centric demand network. This network should influence customers, the company, and the supplier data to efficiently produce products, methodically stock goods, and deliver the products promptly.

To accomplish it, a company must understand the demand from their customers and comprehend the requirements from its customers’ customers. Data forms a crucial component— harnessing data facilitates decision making and the compilation from the demand network. Fulfilling this will enable C-suite leaders to operate with a single source of high-fidelity, real-time, and with minute demand signals to anticipate and overcome potential out-of-stock situations. For example, companies in the F&B industries are required to adapt to the customer point-of-sale, shipment, and work according to the internal data.

Collaborating With The Customer Care Group

As per a report by SCM World, companies with superior return capabilities possess more relevant customer data. Reason being superior returns processes frequently included satisfaction data on service, product quality, and delivery.

The customer care group of a company maintains these valuable insights. Consequently, collaborating with the customer care group to improve the existing supply chain operations—declining the returns and providing high customer satisfaction.

Creating A Customer-centric Process

To create a customer-centric process, a business should harness orders, identify the point-of-sale, recognise various channels, forecast demand, and utilise data to anticipate both short-term and long-term demand. Additionally, applying the demand data by means of appropriating the extended supply chain and linking it with R&D, manufacturing and supply processes will enable the delivery for maximum profit solutions and services accompanied with a boost in customer satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

The roles and responsibilities of C-suites have increased, requiring them to handle multiple roles at the same time. They need to constantly come up with strategies to meet the rising expectations of the customers. In the midst of all this, the availability of data comes as a boon to implement these strategies. Cutting-edge tools and technologies like Artificial Intelligence hold the key to create a digitised customer-centric supply chain. According to an article posted by the Forbes magazine “The next two years will see the inflection point in how the digitized supply chain drives competitive advantage and growth. A small number of companies (9%), the progressives — that is, companies with the highest levels of supply chain digitization maturity — are already moving ahead of the pack in terms of supply chain digitization and reaping tangible rewards. Others need to catch up or risk falling further behind.” By following the above-mentioned measures, C-suite leaders can strike a balance between their responsibilities towards the company and stay ahead in the curve.