The world of logistics and distribution is indeed a complex and vast one! Every day, vast armies of logistics teams and workers work around the clock to move cargo of all shapes, sizes, weights, and forms from all corners of the world to… well, other corners of the world!
Quite naturally, the logistics industry employs scores of people, resources, and equipment, while also presenting an immense commercial opportunity for its players to make profits. However, as the adage goes, “honey attracts bees!”, and naturally, there is intense competition among the players—both incumbents and new entrants—to grab market share and service customers better.
In the modern world where all players have something of equal access to technology and equipment, it is the non-functional aspect of the business that, then, retains customers. Enter Customer Satisfaction.
And, a crucial part of creating that customer satisfaction is by having an excellent customer service setup. One that is quick, responsive, caring, and omnichannel.
Why is Customer Service so important for logistics companies?
Global logistics is a hotbed of numerous challenges: global regulations, trade wars, vastly different weather patterns, and of course, unique challenges like the pandemic.
Although the growing demand for online e-commerce has created a great opportunity for logistics companies, it has also brought its share of new challenges. For example, reverse logistics, a critical part of the online shopping world, could create a severe dent in reputation, business numbers, and company reputation if not managed properly.
Therefore, the difference between good companies and not-so-good ones is, once again, based on that critical metric of customer satisfaction; and, a company’s customer service setup has a major impact on whether customers feel valued and taken care of. Or not!
Expressed differently, excellent customer service is now an all-important business differentiator. And, for logistics companies aiming to create a global business, it is a weapon that they must wield with expertise!
A healthy combination of tools and processes, customer communication, and automation to achieve on-time package deliveries is the way to go.
How can technology improve Customer Service in the field of logistics?
Technology is omnipresent in our lives these days, both, in personal and professional spheres. Modern software and automation enable logistics firms to establish better communication with their customers, predict demand-supply curves, and efficiently manage inventory and packaging.
1) Streamlining client communication: Customer service is built around solid communication. Simplifying it to benefit both, the receiver and the originator is the first step in setting up an efficient system.
- Improve processes: Research has shown that modern customers expect their emails and queries to be answered within “an hour!” This isn’t an easy task and the good ole “copy & paste”, or “forwarding” from one to another will fall short of customer expectations sooner than later. An organized email help desk with a CRM facility will help in sorting, categorizing, tracking, and responding to emails quickly and efficiently
- Provide regular updates: Logistics companies can take a leaf out of the E-commerce companies in this regard, who seemed to have mastered the art of keeping their customers in the loop about their order status at given points. Not only does this inspire consumer confidence but it also reduces pressure on Customer Support teams. The modern customer has become ever more demanding than earlier generations – they want delivery and payment options, specific warehouse locations, and 100% transparency. Last-minute changes, package arrival, delays (etc.) are just some examples of important communication pieces that keep customers happy. Tools like Clevertap, Amazon SNS, and SimpleTexting are some tools to use for updates
2) Streamlining internal processes: A robust internal process is a key to maintaining efficient and effective transparent processes. There are numerous elements for logistics companies to manage in real-time, including supply-chain dynamics, inventory planning and handling, warehouse management, and fleet management…the list is endless! And, don’t forget that all this has to be done out there in the real world with constant exposure to hazards of nature and traffic
- Simplify working relationships and collaborations: Using and managing multiple vendor and client accounts and communication apps is not only challenging but can very easily get out of hand. Therefore, using CRMs, shared inboxes, and end-to-end workflow tools provide an efficient solution for logistics firms to simplify operations and use the information for timely communication with their customers, thereby eliminating miscommunication
- Deploy advanced software and automation: Modern software that predicts demand-supply patterns help logistics teams to optimize and manage their internal processes such as improved supply-chain dynamics, CapEx, cashflow, IoT sensors installed within vehicles to track real-time movement and allow two-way communication, fleet size, drivers, workers, warehouse capacity, the average time is taken for package delivery (etc.) all result in transparency that provides for better customer service
- Data analytics: Modern day data-analytics has improved beyond recognition! And, since all activities right from manufacturing till the time the package is delivered to its end-user are now “online”, every step generates a data point. This data is a rich source of insight that can be used by logistics teams to correct and improve constantly. This ultimately results in better asset utilization, optimum resource usage, and better planning and execution
3) Managing consumer expectations: An effective customer service operation is always based on managing customer expectations, i.e., be sure to communicate clearly with your customers. Logistics is a challenging and complex operation that has numerous moving parts and is forever affected by the unpredictable elements of nature, traffic, labor availability, etc.
As a result, there will be times when the original schedule for delivery may be delayed or even postponed. Other deviations from the planned path include vendor payments, raw-material delays (etc.). All this adds up to ultimately delaying the original delivery time for clients. Such incidents must be communicated with sensitivity and transparency to clients, consumers, vendors (etc.) so as to maintain and improve Customer Service levels
4) Use omni-channel Customer Support software for automation and efficiency: This seems to have become a no-brainer already! Email, SMS, App notifications, chatbots, helpdesk, feedback pages… an omnichannel customer service setup that enables two-way communication between the company and customers is a must.
Conclusion: In today’s world of extreme competition and complex logistics operations, it is most important to achieve customer satisfaction from the non-functional aspects of the business. Customer service is, perhaps, the most important part of this. It will help in avoiding many potentially harmful situations as well as create company equity among your consumers. An important way to achieve this is by using modern technology and software across your operations, such as last mile delivery software for optimizing your delivery schedules, to ensure you meet customer expectations.