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Servitization and the Customer Service Supply Chain

In my recent article "Are British factories an endangered species?" I talked about how UK manufacturers can use the process of servitization as another way of staying ahead of the competition. Whether a manufacturer is offering intermediate services such as a helpdesk, periodic maintenance, repair and overhaul; or advanced capability-based services such as "kilometres moved" offered by companies such as MAN Truck and Bus UK or Alstom's Train-Life services, customer service will be a key component of the "service" provided.

So what is the state of customer service in the UK? In April 2016 The Institute of Customer Service published research comparing customer satisfaction performance in eight European countries which "showed that, on average, the UK performs highest for customer satisfaction." Their July, 2016 UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) report put the customer satisfaction index for the UK at a healthy 77.4 (out of 100); this was the third consecutive rise but still below the peak of 78.2 from the January, 2013 report. If more data was needed, this report also presented "compelling evidence that customer service decisively impacts business performance."

Customer Satisfaction in the UK 2016

All goods and services will be made available to the consumer, i.e. the end customer, via a supply chain which will be made up of a variety of different types of businesses. And let's not forget that manufacturers are very likely to be providing goods and services that in some way underpin half of the industry sectors covered by the UKCSI; e.g. retail (non-food), retail (food), automotive, transport, telecommunications and media, and utilities.

Given that UKCSI survey feedback, it seems reasonable to conclude that for the end customer, the state of customer service within UK appears to be pretty healthy. However, what's of interest to me is the situation further up the supply chain. Is the situation equality positive across the businesses that make up the supply chain? Are there manufacturing business differentiating themselves from their competitors with higher levels of customer service? Or is the positive customer experience the preserve of those in the B2C space?

The Customer Experience Supply ChainIn the next blog posts I will follow the supply chain from primary supplier through to the consumer and we will share with you what I've found. Are manufacturing businesses are using customer experience to differentiate themselves? If they are; how are they doing this and how are they impacted by the customer experience of their suppliers?
And what are your thoughts? Whether you a business that uses customer service to differentiate yourselves from your competitors or you are in the B2C space and feel that customer experience is an alien concept to your suppliers, I'd like to hear from you.

Posted by Charles Clayton, Global Customer Advocate, Epicor

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