One of the key ingredients in a healthy bottom line is a smooth logistics and supply chain process. Following is a discussion of four common obstacles increasingly experienced by today’s transportation logistics managers and suggestions for overcoming them.
1. Customer Experience
Given the global nature of the economy and customers’ ability to affect the reputation of a company’s brand—especially via online ratings—the customer is more in charge today than ever. And they want more in a shorter amount of time and at a lower cost. Your logistics customers demand and deserve the best experience possible. Many businesses today are employing customer experience (CX) as a primary business strategy. According to a 2018 Forbes article, “Customer experience is the new brand.” That same article states that 80% of businesses believe they offer superior customer experiences, but only 8% of customers agree. That leaves a LOT of room for improvement and the opportunity to do so.
That begs the question, are you offering your customers a smooth and streamlined experience? As your business grows, the supply chain can become more complicated, and more missteps can occur with additional people involved in its processes. But there are ways of refining your logistics management strategy so that the main focus is on your customer:
- Keep it personal and transparent. In addition to easy-to-understand services and associated options and costs, today’s customer expects information for their shipments at every step along the supply chain. Providing shipment tracking and weather reports keeps your customers informed and saves them time, strengthening your relationship and reputation.
- Manage the delivery process through the very last mile. The greater the distance and time involved, the greater the likelihood of shipment damage. Be proactive.
- Embrace data—a strong ally for customer retention! Studying customer behavior via technology like tracking tools and transportation management systems can lead to better strategies, better performance, and enhanced customer experience. Analyze, and gain insight regarding what your customer demands.
- Swiftly address issues. Attempting to promptly solve, or at the very least, address, an issue will help a customer feel supported and increase their loyalty. To that end, staff training should be considered one of your company’s most important investments.
- Collaborate with the best partners. Behind every company’s strategies are the people putting them into action, including those involved when your logistics management is outsourced to a third-party logistics provider. Careful research can help you select the best 3PL provider for you and your customers’ needs.
2. Risk Identification And Management
Quantifying risks while responding to market changes like the availability of credit, new products, and global sources is a key role of a company’s management team. These factors must be identified, monitored, and controlled for peak efficiency.
3. Regulations: Governmental, And Environmental
Numerous local, state, and federal regulations and additional local and state emission reduction regulations—such as anti-idling—make it especially important to keep current and take any necessary measures to remain in compliance.
4. Relationships With Suppliers And Partners
When partners mutually agree on standards for how performance is evaluated and how it can be improved, the best results can be achieved sooner. Service providers like 3PLs wishing to provide optimal customer service—including accommodating customer demand and meeting their deadlines—can benefit greatly from building and maintaining a dependable carrier base. How is this done?
- Communicate! Discover carriers’ preferences regarding lanes, scheduling, and if there’s anything they could help with. Be transparent regarding the frequency of loads. The more stability you can provide, the more likely you will receive better pricing.
- Then, maintain the relationships. Have open conversations, even when it’s not easy. Keep your promises and show up with integrity. Taking the time to build relationships and earn your carriers’ loyalty, especially given the current challenges with fluctuating rates, is more important than ever.
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