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warehouse customer service

 

Warehouse customer service is among the top priorities for the organization and warehouse is evolving as very important entity to deliver excellent service to its customers. Organizations are realizing that it can be also be major bottleneck to achieve customer satisfaction and looking for warehouse experts to solve their problems. Unfortunately, Fact is that such Warehouse experts are not easy to find.

As scale and complexity increase in product volumes, organizations face challenge in ensuring right warehouse process, stock accuracy, efficient resources and engaged workforce  to timely service customer orders which impact warehouse customer service

Sharing the 3 best Tips  to improve warehouse customer  service. These ways provide a brief understanding of Warehouse processes to identify the bottlenecks and resolve  them.

 

Warehouse Customer Service 

warehouse customer service

To improve warehouse customer service, three requirements need to be taken care of :

1. Robust process management

2. Reliable and Efficient Resource Management

3. Engaged Workforce Management

 

1. Robust Process Management 

Warehouse process can be well managed with proper understanding of right processes and ensuring discipline and adherence in execution of the same. Warehouse end to end process is explained as below. 

Warehouse process can be divided sequentially into 3 parts :

  1. Inbound Process
  2. Stock Management
  3. Outbound Process 

1. Inbound Process: 

Inbound process defines how goods are received in a warehouse. It begins from receiving the vehicle in the warehouse premises,  storage at the appropriate location and stock updation in the warehouse system.

a. Vehicle placement at the dock:

Vehicles documents are checked for any inconsistency. If documents are found correct, then vehicle is placed on the dock for unloading.  Dock leveller is used to match the height of truck with height of dock. Truck door is opened and physical condition of goods is inspected.  If stock condition is found satisfactory, truck is unloaded.  

b. Accurate counting of Inbound goods:

Cases are unloaded, stacked on a pallet as per the standard and moved to staging area. No of cases per pallet, loose pallets and total  Pallet numbers are counted to arrive at total stock received.

c. Goods Receipt in System:

Physical Unloading sheet with batch details and documents are checked by system operator for receiving goods in system. Goods receipt entry is done in the system against the valid Purchase order shared with supplier. Stock details in the system, mentioned in documents and physically received are matched again for error reconciliation if any.

d. Accurate Put away:

Goods are moved to racks as per defined put away strategy. Put away is keeping the stocks at the designation location in the warehouse.  It is ensured that stock in system is physically available in the same bin location.

 

2. Stock Management :

Once the stock is kept in the warehouse, regular checks and controls are required to ensure stock accuracy because there is possibility that goods are misplaced by keeping at alternate location or dispatched more than the requirement. 

a. Cycle Counting:

Cycle counting is done to check there is no change in inventory due to  incorrect picking or put away. SKUs are picked on random basis and  checked on daily basis at quantity, batch and location level. This practice ensure discipline of stock management in the warehouse.

2. Balance Stock checks

After dispatching the stocks of particular SKUs, checking balance stock helps to reconcile the stocks on immediate basis

3. Outbound Process:

Accurate Picking and loading to improve warehouse customer service. Customers share the purchase order with the warehouse against which sales order is created. System generates pick list basis customer orders and defined logic like First Expiry First Out .

Stocks are picked from designated location and moved to staging area. Stocks are counted in staging area and loaded in the truck.

 Adherence to the warehouse end to end processes require strong leadership and rigor in execution. Automating the warehousing processes truck unloading, stock putaway, picking, warehouse management system, truck loading systems and other automation solutions can go a long way in building the process consistency.

 

2. Reliable and Efficient Resource Management to improve warehouse customer service :

Warehouse resource long downtime can severely impact warehouse reliability and warehouse customer service. Resources are quite expensive and need to be managed efficiently to sustain the customer service. Various resources and Ideas to make resources reliable and  use them efficiently in warehouse are as follows :

1. Material Handling Equipment: 

a. Reach trucks and forklifts maintenance to be done as per schedule to ensure always in good working condition. 

b. Adequate inventory of spares to be maintained for critical parts

c. Good and well trained drivers to be deployed.

d. Shift level output to be measured and compared against standard to improve  Productivity.

e. Distance travelled by MHEs to be optimized by ensuring proper stock classification in the warehouse.

2. Warehouse space:

a. Use vertical height to the maximum extent possible

b. Use high density racks to improve capacity within same infrastructure 

c. Measure storage capacity per sq feet and compare with best benchmark

d. Increase height of goods on a pallet to the extent possible without damaging the goods

3. Manpower:

a. Eliminate non value add activities 

b. Streamline role basis the requirement vs basis the hierarchy

c. Merge multiple activities into one activity for example, hygiene and housekeeping to be one responsibility

4. Docks:

One of the key for managing warehouse efficiently is that dispatches should be regular and continuous. Dock reliability, efficiency and productivity defines the output of a warehouse.  Any hiccups in warehouse dispatches will lead to excess stocks in the warehouse and multiple issues like stock identification and traceability. 

Docks preventive maintenance schedule to be adhered and proper corrective and preventive actions in place to avoid repeat breakdowns. Measure dock  utilization  basis number of trucks loaded in a day vs available time to identify the bottlenecks. 

 

3. Engaged Workforce Management :

Warehouse team is the face who interact with the customers on daily basis. Their behaviour and approach goes a long way in building good customer relationships and deliver excellent warehouse customer service  

Workforce and People Management is an integral part of warehouse operations as there are multiple vendors and stakeholders like system operators, forklift operators, supervisors, loading crew, transporters and drivers who needs to be managed. Their contributions play an important role in improving warehouse customer service 

Understanding their contributions in brief can help on how they contribute in improving  warehouse customer service: 

1. System operator: Works on an ERP system to receive customer orders, generate pick lists and create invoices. Accurately create invoices for the customers without any errors

2.Physical Supervisor:  Check the unloaded stock, supervise the loading operations and conduct regular stocks checks. Ensure accurate count of goods loaded with correct pattern to avoid damages 

3. Forklift operators: Drives forklift and transfer stocks from one location to another. Usually from unloading area to storage area and storage area to loading area. Picks the right stock and keep in  right location. No damage to goods during movement 

4. Loading crew: Load pallets and cases inside the truck either with forklift or hand trolley. Follow the right loading pattern inside a truck

5. Drivers: Place trucks on the docks and drive away once the trucks are loaded. Ensure goods are reached timely with customers.

6. Transporters: Place trucks as per vehicle slot and ensure no in transit delays so that good reach customers timely and in safe condition.

Last but not the least is warehouse manager who leads, coordinate and manages end to end warehouse operations. He needs to be champion of warehouse customer service and his commitment and dedication for servicing the customers is most important.

These 3 area  are the fundamentals for ensuring smooth warehouse operations and improving supply chain performance , warehouse customer service and productivity.

In nutshell, Warehouse customer service can be improved by ensuring right processes, improve resource reliability and building an engaged team.

 

Also read

Improve supply chain performance by pulling 10 Amazing right levers

7 Principles of Warehouse and distribution centre design

warehouse customer service

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Anupam Shrotary

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2 thoughts on “Improve Warehouse customer service : 3 Best Tips

  1. Few other points should also be taken into consideration which are:-
    1. Advance shipment notification from supplier and also the system of giving an appointment to the supplier in order to reduce the waiting time for the truck coming to supply the goods to warehouse.
    2. Multi tasking of the Warehouse Manpower. for example, the picker can be trained for receiving and put away and vice a versa. This will help in balancing the work load, whenever there is high load in receiving shift the trained man power from picking to receiving and if there is heavy load in out bound shift the receiving manpower to picking.
    3. Bin audits to be made a regular practice in addition to cycle count.
    4. Explore the possibility of managing very fast moving, high volume SKUS to manage through cross docking/ flow through.
    5. Recognition and reward for the worker will definitely help in improving the productivity
    6. Manager taking the floor walk regularly at least twice a day, interacting with the workers will keep the worker motivated and also help him recognizing the problem areas within the DC / Warehouse if any. May be find a solution from the person who is working on the ground as they have the more idea.
    7. Try to automate the processes as far as possible. For example RF picking and putaway which will eliminate the chance of wrong SKU picking or the put away at wrong location.
    8. Similarly RF Loading will ensure that all the Handling Units/ Cartons scheduled to be loaded against a particular out bound delivery are loaded in the truck. This will ensure 100% loading of the goods picked and delivered there by improving the fill rate.
    9.Last but not least, the important part is transportation management. Improving the fleet rotation, vehicle capacity utilistion will surely help in cutting down the overall Logistic cost.

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