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Building Trusted Supply Chain Relationships for Resilience and Relevance

Invisible when functioning optimally, supply chains had a moment in the spotlight during the disruptions of the peak COVID-19 years. There was initial upset and uncertainty over the availability of basic goods - you’ll remember crowding in grocery stores, tales of hoarding basic goods. By and large, supply chains came out of the ordeal with an enhanced trust factor, keeping larders and medical cabinets stocked during those crucial times.

Businesses have always known supply chains as the unseen make-or-break in customer satisfaction. If your supply chain is weak, customers will quickly switch to other businesses who promise a disruption-free experience. Great supply chains on the other hand can deliver critical levels of customer delight, moving more than just materials and goods - they can literally keep the wheels of your business turning smoothly.

Supply Chains tap into Customer Hearts and Minds

In this age of human-originated climate change, customers are acutely conscious of their role in ameliorating the crisis. While the numbers show that customers today want to be environment-forward in their choices, 85% see a gap between their current lifestyle and their desired choices. The barriers, they say, are high costs, low availability, uncertainty about better choices, and so on.

Businesses that deliver on these customers’ desires to shift to a more sustainable way of life will win not just sales but hearts and minds - but a key component here is the relationship with supply chain partners.

What Keeps the Parts Moving?

Supply chain relationships are a kind of dance of interdependence. When communication is good, supply chains and your business communicate needs and expectations freely, working together to avoid shortfalls and logjams. Speedy payments complemented by healthy credit periods are examples of healthy interdependence.

When both sides behave responsibly and in good faith, the supply chain relationship goes from one of necessity to a partnership, delivering not just goods but lifestyle solutions to customers, on time, every time.

But is there opportunity to take it beyond, to forge lasting trusted relationships and what does it take to get there?

Unpacking Trust

Trust is not a static value. It is the ongoing sum total of experiences. Fair experiences is a key driver to build and strengthens trust capital between a business and its partners. Unfair ones erode it. Fairness might seem like a ‘soft’ category, harder to break down into specifics. In our work, we’ve found there are distinct dimensions that define fair experiences.

Say, are we delivering each time on the promises made? Is there transparency on sharing what impacts stakeholder’s and their decision making? Do our supply chain partners see us as straight-shooters or interacting with them on level playing ground as equals and not treating the equation as merely transactional ? Is inclusion built into our crucial design processes to deliver to equitable outcomes?

If we can deliver on these expectations of fairness, our supply chain partners too move up the value chain from vendors to co-creators of shared business excellence and success. Customers receive enhanced value from their higher collaboration and ongoing innovation especially when the going gets rough, giving us the much needed resilience and building stickiness to our brand. Further, the benefits from this improved experience cascades across the ecosystem for all to thrive.

Find out how TRUST via Fair Stakeholder Experiences (FSx), can transform your supply chain into a force multiplier for customer delight and sustained business leadership.

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