At a recent KANE company meeting, Derek Jemeyson, Senior Director – Distribution Operations at Sam’s Club – a key KANE customer – shared with our associates his thoughts on customer service.
I loved his 3-chair story.
The first chair is a good, solid, basic chair. Something you might find at the kitchen table. It gets the job done, but it’s not glamorous and you’re not going to take a nap in it. If you’re sitting in it, you’re alert and ready to go, if needed. That’s the chair you want your 3PL partner to be sitting in. From this chair, you make things happen.
The second chair is a comfy chair. A feet-up, sink-into-the-upholstery lounge chair. It’s hard to get out of it quickly. Additionally, it’s easy to fall asleep in. You don’t want your 3PL sitting in this chair, because that’s where they let things happen, versus making things happen.
The third chair is the burning chair. It’s what the comfy chair becomes after months (maybe years) of complacency. 3PLs sitting in this chair are just reacting and fixing the latest blowup. At this point, the relationship has become so strained and broken that it is probably beyond saving. This is the “what just happened?” chair.
It’s a great analogy and a great example of what can happen if you allow relationships to get too comfortable, to the point where rote execution of the same daily tasks becomes the goal, versus proactivity in logistics – looking for ways to change and improve.
Execution Comes Down to Culture
Few companies are more focused on metrics and continuous improvement than Walmart/Sam’s Club. However, Mr. Jemeyson spent most of his time with us discussing the importance of cultural alignment, at one point showing the Walmart/Sam’s Club code side-by-side with the KANE code.
The implied message: the right people with the right attitude will drive green metrics all day long. In the outsourced logistics environment, those people are not looking for the comfy chair. They are looking for ways to raise the bar.
It’s because of people like that on our team that KANE is the only Sam’s Club logistics partner to win its prestigious 3PL of the Year award for two years running. KANE has also been named Walmart’s Carrier of the Year twice in the past and has won the Sam’s Club Distribution Center of the Year Award 10 of the past 17 years.
“We Need You”
Mr. Jemeyson’s ultimate message to the KANE team was a simple phrase: “We need you,” he said.
As Mr. Jemeyson succinctly put it, our collaboration is to benefit the (Sam’s Club) member.
Whether it’s Walmart, Sam’s Club, or a growing eCommerce start-up, our job in logistics – the job of getting products to market – is that critical final link in the supply chain.
Yes, it certainly feels good to receive the affirmation that our retailer and manufacturer customers need us. But they need us sitting up and leaning forward in the basic chair, not slouching down in the comfy chair and counting the minutes until the shift ends.