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Two Sides of the Same Coin: Using Teams in Customer-Supplier Relationships

Summary: In an interview with James Rooney, Leslie Boston of prescription drug benefit provider Medco Health Solutions and Carl W. Keller of Vertis Digital Production Services discuss how the firms' cross-functional customer-supplier teams are an effective way to ensure quality and service while reducing costs. Medco implemented a cross-functional team to interface with its supplier, Vertis DPS. The management-level team meets monthly to discuss strategy and goals for the partnership as well as production issues. Boston says the sharing of expertise and open communication between the companies has produced many ideas to enhance efficiencies and quality. Medco expects its other suppliers to participate in a team approach as well. Its experience with Vertis DPS has demonstrated that the supplier will perform better if it is part of the larger team and can see the results of its contributions. Voicing the supplier's perspective, Keller notes that the team environment has allowed Vertis DPS to cut costs to the customer and improve turnaround time, creating a definite market advantage. Vertis DPS plans to use lessons learned in the partnership with Medco in future customer relationships.

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  • Topics: Teams, Customer Satisfaction and Value
  • Keywords: Case study,Communication,Cross functional teams,Quality improvement (QI),Interviews,Management teams,Customer requirements
  • Author: Rooney, James J., interviewer
  • Journal: Journal for Quality and Participation