Utilising surveys for finding improvement areas for customer satisfaction along the supply chain

Ipek Deveci Kocakoc and Ali Şen
Dokuz Eylul University, Buca/Izmir, Turkey

INTRODUCTION

Today's competitive environment means that companies need to understand their customers' expectations and preferences, and use these as a guide in order to achieve competitive advantage. In dynamic market conditions, it is vitally important to perceive and satisfy customer needs. If customer satisfaction measurements are used as a source of improvement efforts, results will be more satisfactory and realistic (Rampersad 2001).

Mass production usually creates a gap between manufacturers and end users. Faced with a vast proliferation of both domestic and international competition, as well as markets that are often becoming increasingly fragmented, a number of producers of goods and services have chosen to outsource many activities of the sales function to resellers who have the market knowledge, sales expertise or distribution network to bring the product to market more effectively and efficiently than the producer can do alone (McQuiston 2001). Products meet customers through a chain of wholesalers, agents, dealers, retailers, and so on. In this study, all the individual steps involved in delivering a product to the end user are called a customer chain. Some manufacturers think that they transfer customer satisfaction responsibility to their last link in the customer chain (Vavra 1997), but this way of thinking is not correct since end customers' satisfaction is strongly related to the satisfaction of the whole customer chain. If manufacturers want to be competitive, they should take the whole customer chain into consideration.