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The Economist Guide To Supply Chain Management by Jacoby, David

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7 Synchronisation: competing on reliability

FedEx set the standard for reliability in 1973 with its bold new air express delivery model and its claim that the packages it handles would “absolutely, positively” be delivered on time. SNCF, the French national rail company, defined reliability in the 1980s: if a train was scheduled for 13:00:00 and you arrived at 13:00:15, you’d know you’d need to run and jump to catch the train. Toyota and Honda raised the bar on the reliability of automobiles throughout the 1990s.

Reliability is a crucial aspect of customer service, and high service levels can command customer loyalty and support premium prices. The perception of reliability may be more important than reliability itself, since the price that ...

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