Logistics Management

The Key to Customer Satisfaction in Lean Logistics Management

Logistics Management

“ Welcome to Los Angeles, the local time is 3:05 pm. We are REALLY early so please remember this next time if we’re REALLY late” – says the amused voice coming from our flight attendant (who clearly missed his calling as a comedian). "We are landing 30 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time in sunny California."

After a short giggle, I started to worry about my next flight - what if this “prediction” came true as a statistical rule to get the arrival times of United Airlines back to an equilibrium? Thankfully my worries did not come true and I had a smooth journey.

However, this really got me thinking about on-time performance and standards in logistics management– I wouldn’t be a true lean logistics professional if it didn’t.

When we think about on-time performance in today’s global and highly competitive economy, we appreciate that it determines our success with our customers. They expect an on-time delivery of service, and most importantly, they expect it to happen on a consistent basis. The keyword here is consistent. Other keywords include: STANDARDS and REPETITION. Lean and six sigma teach us these terms as the basis for achieving high quality service to our customers in logistics management.

Now the question arises – How can you, as leader in the logistics and supply chain industry, improve your company’s on-time performance?

Well the good news is that it is possible. Just follow these 5 lean guidelines:

Set your standards for on-time delivery while challenging the status quo. If your current performance metrics show 90% – pet yourself (and your team!) on the back, then check with your customer again. The phenomenon of competitive quality in logistics management can surprise you – if your competitors improved and achieved 95% on-time performance while you were not looking, guess what your customer is expecting from you now?

Set the right metrics. As a recent LeanCor industry survey on supply chain priorities” showed, speed of delivery and on-time performance proved to be the most significant indicators for companies across all industries we polled (automotive, healthcare, construction, heavy machine manufacturing, distribution, retail and others). Be very honest and think critically when setting your metrics in logistics management. In a recent conversation with a dear colleague and lean thinker, I heard the best example for this point. His company had very promising dashboards for on-time performance. However, when looking at the basis for these numbers, they were not built from the customers' point of view. The numbers were based on a lot of assumptions from the system which made them look lucrative. Needless to say, the measurements got updated and showed negatively for a while. The team understood the importance, focused on them, and the numbers improved within just a couple of months. Remember the golden rule: When things get measured, they will “magically” improve!

Early is as bad as late. In contrary of our amusing flight attendant, being early one time does not give a free pass for being late the next time. When standards are set in logistics management, they need to be held very strictly. This is a big challenge to stick to in today’s transportation industry when there are so many uncertainties of weather, gas prices, slow steaming from ocean vessels etc. However, with careful planning and active track and trace of activities you can succeed. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.

Avoid setting long window times. The age of saying, “I’ll be there to pick up/deliver between 1 and 4 pm” is absolutely over. It is not acceptable any more for our customers. In logistics management, set a window that is just enough to perform your task and don’t leave a lot of buffer. It is straight WASTE.

Collaborate with your partners. Your carriers provide a service to you but they run a business like you run yours. Think “game theory” – the best outcome is always the one where players collaborate for a common cause and understand the give-and-take principle.

So remember: STANDARDS and consistently sticking to them is the determining factor of your success for customer satisfaction in logistics management.

As Aristotle once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not and act but a habit.”

Written by Susie Sterling - Director, Supply Chain Solutions at LeanCor

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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