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Cliff Holste

Supply Chain Digest
Material Handling Editor

Logistics News

Cliff Holste is Supply Chain Digest's Material Handling Editor. With more than 30 years experience in designing and implementing material handling and order picking systems in distribution, Holste has worked with dozens of large and smaller companies to improve distribution performance.

March 16, 2016

Logistics News : Is 100% Customer Satisfaction Achievable & Sustainable?

A 99.9% Accuracy Rate Still Disappoints One Customer in a Hundred


Many retailers strive for a high level of repeat customers as they believe this is the true measure of customer satisfaction. Still others depend on customer surveys. The reality is that customers have high expectations and lots of choices. The challenge is to consistently provide accurate on-time orders.

Holste Says...

By identifying and eliminating unnecessary processing steps, bottlenecks, and other such delays that may have crept-in over time, sustainable performance can be realized.

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Shippers can improve their customer satisfaction performance by understanding that real improvement is a combination of deploying highly accurate order processing and efficient delivery methods. By identifying and eliminating unnecessary processing steps, bottlenecks, and other such delays that may have crept-in over time, sustainable performance can be realized.


Because high customer satisfaction is worth striving for, shippers should consider what processes need to put in place to obtain 100% order accuracy. While every DC is unique, many of the basic operations are very similar. The following are just a few examples of how some of the top performing companies improve their operations:

  • Receiving: The objective is to reduce the total time that it takes to spot a trailer, unload the pallets or cartons and transport them to a storage location. Use the advanced shipping notice (ASN) data to setup the receiving process while the shipment is still in route.
  • Touches: The objective is to lower cost while increasing speed and accuracy. Whenever possible by-pass reserve storage and put product directly into forward picking slots. In many DCs 30% to 50% of DC labor is devoted to supporting picking operations – that adds up to a lot of non-value added cost and time.
  • Space utilization: In the typical DC product occupies only 25% of the available cubic space, even when its consider it to be full. The rest is aisles, equipment and otherwise unused air space. The key to understanding the relationship between space and productivity is to keep track of both over time.
  • Employee satisfaction: Top performing companies know that deploying efficient processes, along with automation where practical is important to the achievement of high levels of order fulfillment accuracy and productivity. But processes do not run by themselves. It takes trained and motivated employees to make them effective. Create a workplace environment that is safe and productive while building a strong supportive relationship with employees.

Final Thoughts


Going forward companies must be able to quickly adjust to changes in their customers’ buying patterns and business strategies. Inefficient processes and systems can slowdown operations and inhibit the ability to quickly make appropriate changes - putting the business at some considerable risk. Avoiding this predicament is in most cases a matter of staying current with logistics technologies and slightly ahead of consumer trends – no easy tasks.


The next best opportunity for shippers to learn more about improving customer satisfaction can be found at MODEX 2016 April 4 – 7, 2016 in Atlanta, GA. Check-it-out at:

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