Is the customer your king?

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It’s a real cliché – describing the customer as king. But expressions become clichés precisely because they describe widely held views.

The problem, of course, is that it is easy to pay lip service to the idea – it is much harder to turn it into reality. That is particularly true in the current climate within supply chain.

Companies have had to contend with one of the deepest recessions for many years, and for the past 18 months at least the mantra has been “cash is king”.

Arguably, of course, focusing on the customer is part of the solution to dealing with the recession – and that is doubly true as companies look for growth. But how do you manage your supply chain so that it is truly customer driven?

Clearly, it is important to ensure that you are building on the lessons learnt during the economic downturn rather than reverting to business as usual as sales return.

Understanding customer demand is critical – so forecasting planning has to be central to any strategy. But how do you hone in on the inputs that will have the most significant impact on the accuracy of the forecast? And are there ways of shaping and influencing demand to deliver higher levels of customer service?

Ultimately, of course, the crucial thing is to ensure that customer service improvements translate into increased revenue and profit for the business.

All these issues will come up for discussion at the Customer Driven Supply Chain Conference which takes place in London in October.

Speakers include: Roddy Martin, senior vice-president research at AMR Research; Simon Williams, senior vice-president supply chain at Constellation Brands; Gerhard Blum, senior vice-president distribution & supply chain international at Sony Music; Nick Lefever, general manager – supply chain at Telefonica O2; John Saxby, supply chain director at Danone Waters; and Anne Bruggink, general manager – supply chain at Electrocomponents.

Customer Driven Supply Chain takes place on 5th – 6th October at The Connaught Rooms, 61 – 65 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5DA. Details at:

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