APICS is the leading professional association for supply chain and operations management.
APICS Supply Chain Management Now

Taking Customer Satisfaction to the Next Level

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE - October 19, 2012
Taking Customer Satisfaction to the Next LevelAn article posted Wednesday on the Harvard Business Review website describes a problem we should all pay attention to: demand and sales aren’t equivalent. “Sales don’t equal demand because consumers settle for less far more often than most realize,” writes Eddie Yoon, a principal at the Cambridge Group.

Yoon gives some examples that go from annoying to just plain ridiculous. Hot dogs and buns that come in packs of different sizes, socks that don’t have meaningful sizes, and beer that 29 percent of beer drinkers claim they don’t like!

“If the challenge of analyzing sales data is breadth, the challenge of profiting from demand data is the inverse: It requires such depth that purpose, practicality, and profit get lost … Demand is primal,” Yoon writes. “It’s easy to overlook the profound, Pandora’s Box of human emotions that even the most commodity of products can unlock, because each of us has profoundly complex and uniquely rich stories.”

As I leave Denver and have time to reflect on the many remarkable messages coming from APICS 2012, I see a theme. It’s apparent in Yoon’s article, and it was illustrated many times during the conference. For example, former Google chief information officer Douglas Merrill asked attendees to listen to what users do, not what they say. “Pay close attention to what they are trying to show you.”

By proceeding in the way he recommends, Merrill said customers can inform you about what products to offer and how to build products that customers really want.  “By and large, people are nice,” Merrill said. “They’re going to try to tell you what they think you want to hear. But if you pay attention, you can have them show you what they want. It’s not in your head; it’s in theirs.”

The APICS 2012 educational sessions shed new light on risk, demand, resiliency, professional skills and more, and the general sessions gave attendees fresh perspective on how to put to work the information they learned.

Eric Berlow is a TED senior fellow and founder of VIBRANT DATA Labs, and he spoke to attendees on Tuesday. He underscored that while supply chains are increasingly complex, professionals should embrace the value of complexity.  He illustrated how important it is to not only record and collect information but also to analyze, visualize, and understand it. “We need to solve the problem of trust,” Berlow said. When we do with more data and better analytics we achieve a big-picture view, identify risk hot spots, and build consumer trust in a brand through authenticity and transparency.

Throughout conference sessions, speakers emphasized the power of trust, the high value of team diversity, and the importance of meaningful data. Educational sessions showed attendees how to achieve important supply chain outcomes. You can find coverage of select educational sessions, general sessions, and other activities by visiting APICS Conference News.

APICS 2012 may be over, but APICS leaders, volunteers, and staff continue to work for you every day. Visit apics.org to see how we can help you do your job better and achieve success.

In other news

Related APICS education
  • The Origins of Complexity
    By J. Brian Atwater, CPIM, and Paul Pittman, PhD, CFPIM, CSCP, Jonah
    September/October 2012, APICS magazine

  • On the Map
    By Darren Pitts, CPIM, CSCP
    March/April 2012, APICS magazine