Freight and logistics professionals are no strangers to buzzwords and phrases. From OTD to cross-docking, the logistics industry is a seemingly endless web of jargon that can make or break success. But for all the specialized vernacular and quirky lingo, no term is more important than “customer service.”
Customer service is pivotal in the logistics world, as it’s key to building the relationships that underpin sustained success -- especially in freight procurement. Yet as much as it’s talked about by freight technology providers, carriers and other logistics companies, many fail to live up to the service goals of their customers. Luckily, there are tools and tactics that freighting and logistics companies can use to enhance their customer experience operations and amplify freight procurement customer service success. Here are a few.
For decades, the entire logistics industry has been plagued with transparency issues. This is especially true in freight procurement, where shippers and carriers are still beholden to the broker market -- which has operated as a “black box” for generations. However, as technology becomes a bigger part of logistics industry-wide, customers are demanding more transparency and reporting from their freight procurement and logistics partners.
Bare bones reporting is no longer enough to win at customer service. Instead, freighting and logistics companies need to provide the most granular insights possible, which includes everything from individual driver performance to shipment tracking. Forward-thinking companies provide lane rates so a shipper understands true-market costs and what a carrier (not the broker) wants to get paid on a specific load. Further, this “glass box” approach helps build trust with customers and allows freighting and logistics companies to better track their own performance and make tweaks as necessary. More data, also empowers customers to make stronger, educated decisions on how they can most efficiently haul their freight.
Managing customer relationships and communication is a building block for successful customer service infrastructure. And just as customers are looking for deeper and more transparent data, they also crave more nuanced and personalized communications with their logistics partners.
For example, while a blanket generic product update email may have sufficed 10 years ago, today’s customers not only want to hear this information delivered on their preferred channel, they want it tailored specifically to their business and how it impacts them. So freighting and logistics providers really need to expand their communications strategies and opt for a more thoughtful and personalized approach to customer communications, instead of one that’s quicker and commoditized.
Build around honesty
No freighting or logistics provider wants to fail to meet customer expectations. However, no matter how we try to guard against risks and plan ahead, unforeseen delays, breakdowns and other hiccups are inevitable. And as a result, logistics providers are faced with the difficult process of having to share the “bad news” with their customers.
Of course, owning up to mistakes can be hard. But by communicating clearly and giving honest updates around any mishaps, logistics providers can actually build more solid bonds with customers rather than being vague or evasive when an issue arises. Additionally, conveying bad news in a timely way can help customers adjust to conditions and tweak their existing plans accordingly, saving them money as a result.
Building a successful business in freight procurement and logistics is about more than just facts and figures. It’s about cultivating and nurturing relationships with every stakeholder in a given ecosystem. And to do this, freighting and logistics companies must find ways to deliver the transparent, personalized and sincere experience customers can rely on for years to come.