Director, Content Marketing
Supply chain disruptions continue to plague businesses of all sizes, but small businesses in particular are feeling the pain. These supply chain issues make it hard for SMBs to keep their regular products in stock — often having to choose between major delivery delays from trusted suppliers or switching to new suppliers with little time to explore their options or screen vendors.
Switching suppliers can result in lower-quality items, higher expenses, increased turnaround times and more. Needless to say, it's a stressful experience, especially because these supply chain disruptions can radically affect a business's ability to meet customer expectations. And that's the last thing any business wants.
Thankfully, managing supply chain disruptions is totally possible. You can manage these challenges and maintain your relationships now and in the future by leveraging your CRM.
5 tips for managing supply chain disruptions with your CRM
Here are five best practices on how to manage supply chain disruptions to help keep your business running smoothly.
1. Be completely transparent with your customers.
Transparency is critical. Tell your customers exactly what's going on. If prices are higher or shipping will take longer, let them know, and tell them why. It's much better to get in front of the issue and lose a few sales than having to deal with refunds and angry customers down the road.
Use email templates and email sequences in your CRM to be proactive by sending emails ahead of time. Rather than waiting for your customers to visit your website or social media page, start communicating with them now to encourage them to shop earlier than usual.
2. Communicate clearly and regularly with your suppliers.
Make it a priority to build strong relationships with multiple contacts from your different suppliers. Stay in touch and build rapport based on honesty. Make it clear that you want to know about issues the second they arise, not when it's too late for your team to adjust things on your side.
Use your CRM to schedule tasks and reminders to follow up with your key suppliers weekly to get status updates. Don't rely on them to tell you what's going on. Instead, call them consistently to touch base so you always have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare your customers.
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3. Get the entire team collaborating and on the same page.
Managing supply-chain disruptions also means managing your team. These issues make things stressful for everyone. That's why it's important to keep tabs on all your employees and check in often. It's also a great time to make sure you're leveraging everyone's talents because, it may take some creativity or restructuring to keep things running smoothly.
You can easily create automated workflows in your CRM to make sure internal collaboration and communication stay intact. If everything functions smoothly through organized workflows, it's easier for your entire team to stay on the same page.
4. Use available reports and data to plan for potential problem spots.
Despite the upheavals of late, your historical data is your biggest asset right now because you can use this data to help make critical decisions. For example, data from your CRM reports can give you a clear picture of your most profitable customers and vendors. You can use that information to plan for any supply chain issues by starting those conversations early.
You can use those same reports to help you make tough, but necessary, business decisions. Like, if you have to stop offering some products due to supply chain issues, you can use your CRM reports and future forecasting to decide which products to cut to help protect your bottom line.
5. Have a responsiveness plan of action
Flexibility is crucial during times of volatility. While it's impossible to prepare for every possible outcome, there's no harm in preparedness. To survive this supply chain crisis, be ready to respond to customer complaints — because even if you're proactive with suppliers and communicative with customers, things can still go wrong.
Consider using your CRM to set up "crisis pipelines," like a customer complaint pipeline or a refund pipeline. This ensures that if unexpected things happen, everyone knows what they need to do to keep a small fire from burning out of control and engulfing the entire company.
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How to overcome supply chain disruptions
Everyone's wondering how to manage supply chain disruptions, but the truth is that there's no way to avoid them entirely. But if you plan ahead and adapt, it's another hurdle you can overcome.
Managing supply chain disruptions is all about strengthening your internal processes, teamwork, communication strategies and customer relationships. Transparency and collaboration are key. And there's no doubt that your company will evolve and become stronger as a result of overcoming these challenges together.
Be sure to use all the tools at your disposal, including your CRM. If you're not a Copper customer yet, try us free for 14 days.