OC Reilly Blog: Service Ranks First Among Emerging Supply Chain Trends

By Ray Staudt, Supply Chain Consultant, OC Reilly Inc.


Everybody loves Top Ten lists.  David Letterman has been making a lucrative living off of them for three decades.  They bring murky ideas into sharper focus, helping people remember the important highlights more easily.

In the July-August 2013 edition of Supply Chain Management Review magazine, an article cites the “10 Trends for the Next 10 Years” for the supply chain industry.  The trend landing in the No. 1 position did so for some very good reasons.

The top trend, as listed in the article, is that “Service chains will become more popular than product chains.”  The logic behind this trend is that consumers want more than a good product.  They want great service around that product, pre-sale, post-sale, and as the sale transaction occurs.

The story reads, in part, “That message was underscored by Apple CEO Tim Cook in his recent apology to consumers in China for the company’s perceived failure to listen to feedback about post-sales service.  This was a great example of a company with one of the most innovative products in the marketplace forgetting that the consumer is still largely in charge and that service plus product trumps product only.”

As supply chain consultants, we have the same obligation to take the time to properly immerse ourselves into the operations, perspectives, and needs of our clients.  When we come to be seen not as outside consultants, but instead as natural and supportive extensions of our clients’ teams, then we can begin to provide a level of service our clients deserve and to which we continuously need to aspire.

Naturally, we all – both on the client side and on the consultant side – want to achieve greater efficiencies through well-executed contracts with suppliers, elimination of waste, and so on.  Those are the “products” we deliver.

But a great product supplemented by correspondingly great service moves the relationship beyond transactions to one based on mutual respect and even stronger results.

When one of the world’s top brands, Apple, needs to remind itself of this basic truth, it’s worth taking special note of, and making sure we apply it to our client relationships every day.

Copyright 2013 OC Reilly Inc.