Customer of choice

Earlier this month, I spoke at a conference focused primarily on bringing together large retailers and their suppliers as well as providers of enabling technology. The organization that runs the conference is RVCF, the Retail Value Chain Federation, who, as part of its mission,  advocates trading partner alignment, retailer-supplier operating synchronization, and best practices. This excellent conference directly addresses advancing the customer-supplier relationship in very direct and concrete ways.

The people who attended my session on supplier process improvement were primarily retail suppliers. One area that I spoke about was: what qualities do suppliers look for in customers and also what are customers looking for in their suppliers. I asked attendees to indicate the top 3 qualities that suppliers look for in the “customer of choice” and that customers look for in the “supplier of choice”. The organizers had provided some great polling technology so that participants could use their smartphones to vote and get instant results for polls developed by presenters.

In the Customer of Choice poll in my session, here are the qualities that made the top 3:

1. Treats suppliers as valued business partners – 27.9%

2. Is fair, ethical, and respectful – 23.5%

3. Has an efficient decision making process – 13.2%

In case you’re wondering what other qualities of the customer of choice that participants voted on, they included:

  • Is willing to pay for best value over lowest price
  • Pays its suppliers on time
  • Is open to supplier ideas
  • Gives access to customer executives

What I found interesting is that the top two scorers, which garnered the most answers above all the others, were about the customer-supplier relationship and how customers treat suppliers.

With this group of retailers, basic human values of fair treatment, respect and good ethics go a long way to creating good customer-supplier relationships.

Next, I will post the results of the Supplier of Choice poll.

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