Freight Forwarder – The Value of a Personal Service

A good service is a personal service. Despite constant improvements in technology, the integration of automation and the benefits it provides to businesses today, the age old conflict still exists between reducing supply chain costs while increasing front facing service to end customers. Reducing costs is of course essential for a freight forwarder so that they can offer competitive pricing on to their customers, however there is no substitute for the personal touch which instils confidence, and the calm voice that eases the mind and can re-assure you that your freight will be there on time.

It’s well known that when the economy tightens, customer service takes a hit in many organisations. Why is this? Customer service is notoriously difficult to quantify and therefore the impact of cuts are obscured. It may well be perceived as the least painful option in cost cutting measures for managers.

But cutting costs when it comes to customer service is often not beneficial in the long-term. A reduction in the quality of customer service provided may well impact on the relationship the freight forwarder has with its customers and therefore it can impact business in the future. Although there is no definitive research to prove it, many experienced operators in the business feel that an investment in quality customer service returns a strong Return on Investment over time.

The Customer – The Heart of the Operation

While managing the day-to-day finances is hugely important, taking a long term view of customer service is required in order to manage the allocation of resources effectively. To get a birds-eye view of the customer service offering you deliver – and to get a vision of how this could be improved – the best approach is to talk to your customers. You may well find that rather than cutting service costs, you can increase efficiencies by extending the service offered – thereby also increasing revenues.

A well run distribution network relies on a strong foundation of communication, collaboration and organisation.

Quantifying Customer Satisfaction

Ultimately the customer is the heart of the operation. Providing value for the customer is the goal and being able to measure customer satisfaction provides the benchmark. Quantifying customer satisfaction is never an easy task. Maintaining communication and staying engaged with your customers business is a sure fire way of determining how satisfied they are with the service provided.  Great customer service is proactive as much as reactive. By understanding your customers business you can identify their strategic goals and customise the service you provide so as to facilitate their ambitions.  Reaching that level of collaboration should be the target for a freight forwarding supplier.

Freight Forwarder – The Art of Listening

A key building block in the customer service structure is listening. Developing a corporate culture which places a premium on “listening” creates value.  This concerns managing the reactive element of operations effectively.  A customer ringing with a query expects an answer. Providing that customer with an accurate, timely response goes a long way. Putting that customer through to an agent who will go the extra mile in making time to answer questions goes even further. A business which values the customer ultimately adds value to the business.

The virtual gap between what is expected and what is provided distinguishes the good freight forwarding providers from the bad. A good freight forwarder tries to bridge the gap using the resources at its disposal. And great freight forwarder companies go above and beyond what is expected to provide a service that can’t be beaten. This can involve a Herculean effort in some cases e.g. during a transport crises such as the French debacle recently, and the very careful management of communications – in that case to keep customers up-to-speed with what was going on, on the ground.  It can demand doing everything necessary to get the job done, working day and night to make it happen, not shying away from the task at hand. This is the benchmark set by the global leaders within the freight forwarding industry and it represents the ethos that Cargocare brings into its service.

Freight Forwarder – Problem Resolution

Within every organisation, when people are involved naturally mistakes can happen. Accepting that fact and having a process is place to deal with the problems as they arise is what makes relationships work. The act of overcoming an obstacle is what strengthens corporate relationships. Collaboration and communication once again provide the necessary building blocks for a successful relationship with partners and customers.

Often simply the presence of an existing solid working relationship can overcome logistic issues in a quick stress-free way. In worst case scenarios, personality and avoiding criticism can make a big difference. Staying positive and creating a relaxed friendly atmosphere while identifying a resolution to a problem will avoid any pointing of fingers. Avoiding the blame game prevents disrupting the existing working relationship.

Strategic planning – A Unique Perspective

The services sector relies on customers to share information so they can anticipate changing trends. Identifying new trends gives service providers an idea of future demands and potential challenges. This can facilitate the future strategic planning process. Maintaining the supply chain gives freight companies a unique view of emerging trends. They may see a high volume of product returns from one particular source of the supply chain, e.g. a specific manufacturer or an individual geographic location. The company could communicate these trends to its partners which may influence their strategic decisions.

 

For transportation and logistics based service providers, good customer service breaks down walls and extends supply chain synergies beyond contractual obligations. Customer service is an expectation and therefore an essential ingredient for success. It’s difficult to quantify, constantly evolving and largely based on emotion. Opportunities for measuring the effectiveness of the customer services provided only truly arise when problems present themselves. Only then is it clear if expectations are satisfied or spurned.

When good customer service is lacking –this is clearly visible, there for all to see. When it’s strong customer service, it is often discreet and tactful. A business which values customer service as a core competency and goes beyond expectation to satisfy needs, maintains healthy working relationships and is both proactive and reactive to changing trends – is a business that is destined to succeed.

 

Cargocare is committed to a customer service level that is probably second-to-none. See what our customers have to say about us or contact us for more information.  We look forward to your call.