Voice of the Customer Interview Series

Why is supply chain critical to Customer Experience?

Interview #2 with Riccardo Porta, Supply Chain Director.

Head shots of Jennifer Zamora and Riccardo Porta

I want to recognize all my colleagues for their agility in embracing change and commitment to rise above the ongoing challenges.

Being a customer-centric organization is a commitment that requires discipline, enterprise-wide alignment, and Customer Experience (CX) accountability across every single member of the organization. By hosting the new Voice of the Customer interview series, I hope to elevate some members of #TeamDow driving customer centricity across all disciplines.

For the second part of the series, I invited Riccardo Porta, Supply Chain Director, for an interview to discuss the impact supply chain plays in delivering best-in-class services and compelling customer experiences.

Riccardo is a supply chain professional with twenty years of experience in the industry. He is responsible for coordinating and leading a variety of global projects aimed at improving CX, EX, and maximizing the power of digital across supply chains at Dow.

Jennifer Zamora: Welcome and thank you so much for sharing your perspective and expertise today, Riccardo.

Riccardo Porta: Thank you for the invitation, Jen.

Jennifer Zamora: To start, I’d like to understand how supply chain is critical in delivering Customer Experience?

Riccardo Porta: If you think about it, supply chain is at the center of everything. From taking customer orders via human and digital interactions, working with manufacturing around planning, scheduling, and packing production, storing, and moving products inside and outside our fence lines – our supply chain function is the connecting point between materials and the customer.

The decisions supply chain professionals make have a big impact on our ability to fulfill customer orders and expectations, which are reflected in our overall performance.

As you can imagine, we have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and recent weather-related events that affected our ability to deliver across all our touch points. The past eighteen months have been the most difficult in our industry because of the constant disruptions at all fronts.

We know this is not isolated to Dow, but it’s been tough on our people, operations and on our customers.

The Supply Chain team contributes to positive CX at many of the touch points along the customer journey, so we need to stay creative to find solutions to complex problems, including leaning on digital tools to help us navigate these challenging circumstances.

Jennifer Zamora: Agreed, the resiliency and ingenuity Team Dow continues to show is commendable. With limitation around how much time we have been able to spend working together and engaging with customers, using digital tools and channels has made all the difference for all disciplines. Can you share how digitalization is changing the supply chain landscape?

Riccardo Porta: I believe that for large, complex, and global companies like ours, supply chain digitalization is not a choice, but a necessity. Both the frequency and the magnitude of disruptions has steadily increased over the past several years and there are no signs for the trend to reverse any time soon. I am talking about big swings in consumer preferences, geopolitical instability, trade wars, labor shortages, global logistic challenges, and extreme weather events.

Especially in B2B, we’re seeing how shifting end-consumer preferences impact the entire value chain from consumers, to our customers, to ourselves and up the chain to our suppliers and beyond.

We must take advantage of our digital tools to predict, control and automate some of the activities and decisions, there simply won’t be enough people power to get it done.

Managing global and complex supply chains without advanced digital capabilities will feel like climbing mount Everest without gloves. If possible, it would be very painful!

Thankfully, Dow recognized the trend years ago and has been investing significant resources to accelerate our digital journey. For supply chain, the prioritized areas of focus for digital are planning and order management.

Those are areas where we believe both the opportunities and the cost of not intervening are the largest. Technology and digitalization capabilities exist today. Our speed will be determined by the amount of change the organization can handle and by our ability to transform the way we do things while continuing to operate at the same time.

Jennifer Zamora: Totally agree with you – digital transformation is the path to the future, but we can’t get there without our people rallying behind the change. Would you agree?

Riccardo Porta: For sure, I want to recognize all my colleagues for their agility in embracing change and commitment to rise above the ongoing challenges. On top of the complicated dynamics the global pandemic created, our supply chain team had to deal with all kinds of additional demand and supply unbalances that have really tested their limits. Sometimes it feels like we’re running an impossible marathon, but we always find a way to keep going.

The dynamics we see today help create great opportunities for growth but also generate a lot of extra work. I want my colleagues to know that their efforts are seen and that they matter.

I also want to thank our customers for their patience and open communication. We are listening to your concerns and as always, Dow is committed to do our best to deliver. We’re working on stabilizing our business operations to be a more reliable supplier.

Closing Remarks

I want to thank Riccardo for elevating the perspective and work of our Supply Chain team. They have been working tirelessly to ensure we connect our product to customers, and that is no easy feat in today’s dynamic market conditions.

Stay tuned for the next interview in the series where we’ll dive into the world of Sustainability.