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Outbound Channel Management: Managing and Expanding Customer-Facing Supply Chain Relationships
Chainlink Research, November 2005
Whether it's booking a flight or requesting the status of a flight, or checking the status of an order or placing a new order, the frustration we endure while doing business can become massive. We've all "Been there" at one time or another, whether calling from a crowded place or while holding a cell phone to our ear in a tight embrace - and why?
Because the automated “attendant” on the other end of the line cannot quite make out our “command” to it… usually because of the tiniest bit of background noise, or maybe it is just having a bad day. The flight from Atlanta to Austin can be interpreted as the flight from Atlanta to Boston, resulting in incorrect flight information going out to an unsuspecting party. Or the maze of options, keys to press, frequent flyer or shopper numbers to enter can be daunting. And how many times have we received an “invitation” in the mail to join a “frequent something” program that we are already a member of? And has anyone tried to return online purchases to the retail store, only to be told, “Sorry, but we don’t stock or accept that item here.” And the age-old nightmare of trying to get reliable tech support for that laptop or camera we recently purchased, only to be placed on hold, or bounced around to countless different “desks” for an extended period of time, and when we do get a “live individual,” they are 15 times zones away and speak another language as their “mother tongue” with English as a distant second… a very distant second.
Customer perception of business transactions is not always negative, since some positive interactions do occur. But it sometimes seems that those are few and far between, and in many instances those positive experiences occur only after a very bad experience has happened and only then as a means of “making it up” to the innocent consumer, thus seeming not really all that positive.
We may chuckle at the horror stories mentioned above, but when it comes to the bottom line for businesses, it is no laughing matter, especially when stories like the ones above cause a customer to “tell all of their friends” or more importantly, to take their business elsewhere.
These frustrating experiences are a direct result of decisions made every day by Manufacturers, Distributors, Retailers, Service Providers and Technology Providers. Executives and middle managers are constantly faced with making the policy, process and technology decisions necessary to be effective in managing their business channels—single or multiple channels; what/when to outsource; how many channels to use and what products to push through which channel; which skills and associated organizational models to put into place; what to spend on mailing and marketing campaigns; and which technologies to implement to monitor and synchronize the whole host of channel management business processes and data across multiple business partners. The success of every business depends in large part upon the company’s ability to make timely, accurate and well-informed decisions in the Channel Management area of the Enterprise Supply Chain.
So you may say, “Same old stories.” regarding the scenarios mentioned above… but, you won’t yawn and say, “Same old research.” when you have finished reading this report.
- Executive Summary
- How Real Companies Are Mastering Channel Management Challenges
-- Example #1: Cosmetics, Inc.
-- Diversification vs. Single-Face-to-the-Customer
-- Example # 2: Tech, Inc.
-- Moving to a Blended Direct/Indirect Channel
- Key Emerging Best Practices
-- Central Partner Organizational Model
-- Start At the Customer and Work Back
-- Order From Anywhere—Fulfill From Anywhere
-- Hotlist of Best Practices
- Deciding What’s In and What’s Outsourced
-- Identifying Key Cost Drivers
-- Value-Based Satisfaction Index
-- Customer Service—An Old Favorite or An Easy Target
-- A Much Bigger Step: Outsourcing Sales and Marketing
- Technology to Enable Channel Management
-- Company Wish Lists for Channel Management Software Solutions
-- Software Solutions Under Development
-- Delivery Architecture
-- Software Domain Expertise
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