Most Board-level executives believe that customer relationships have grown stronger during the pandemic, despite significant supply chain disruption, according to research* conducted by management consultancy, Vendigital.
54% of the C-Suite executives surveyed at UK-based businesses said that their customer relationships are stronger now than they were before Brexit and the onset of the pandemic, despite the significant disruption that these events have caused. Most believe that this positive change is due to their focus on continuous improvement and their agile response in adapting their operating models to meet unexpected shifts in customer demand and behaviour.
Jeff Kennelly, a director and industrial engineering sector specialist at management consultancy, Vendigital, said: “When consumer and/or customer behaviours changed at the start of the pandemic, businesses had little choice but to stop what they were doing and rethink ways to adjust to meet new areas of demand. Those that responded quickly have been able to strengthen customer relationships as a result.
“Not all businesses were able to do this however, and when supply backlogs accumulated as demand levels bounced back earlier this year, some customer relationships felt the strain. Despite the positive outcome for most businesses, one in five (21%) of C-Suite executives believe their customer relationships have suffered during the pandemic due to the knock-on effect of missed deadlines and demand unpredictability.”
Against a backdrop of rising energy costs and ongoing supply shortages, which are affecting a host of vital components and raw materials, most Board-level executives are aware that the year ahead will test their customer relationships further. 84% of C-Suite executives said managing customer relationships, while keeping a close eye on costs, will be key to the survival of their business in the year ahead. To nurture their customer relationships, 71% of C-Suite executives are intending to invest in customer relationship management and most see this as a long-term investment.
Balancing customers’ needs and cost constraints is going to be more difficult for some businesses than others. The research revealed that businesses that had reported a dip in revenues during the pandemic were more likely to be prioritising cost control, whereas those that reported an increase in revenues were more likely to be focused on investing in innovation to meet customers’ current and future demands.
Kennelly said: “During times of uncertainty, businesses know how important it is to stay close to their customers and suppliers. This will involve staying agile and continuing to innovate to meet customers’ demands, but managing costs remains a critical part of this process.
“Balancing customer demands and cost constraints will be easier to achieve if there are strong relationships in place, allowing accurate availability and demand data to be shared openly across the supply chain. Accurate real-time customer data is now a Boardroom essential.”
To support businesses in balancing customer needs and costs on the road to recovery, Vendigital has produced guidance for Board-level decision makers, which has been published in a report, entitled Redefining Customer Relationships in a Changing Market. The guidance covers 15 critical questions designed to help businesses review each stage of their operating model through a customer-focused lens.
CLICK HERE to download a copy of Vendigital’s report about redefining customer relationships.
* Vendigital’s research has been conducted with 151 C-Suite executives at UK-based businesses.