Is it time to sound the death knell of customer service as we know it? In this hyper-connected, digital, and mobile world that we live in, the bar for customer service success has been set higher. With the advent of new communication technologies, patience is dwindling among customers and their sensitivity to interactions with businesses is rising. The brands that will win the future know how to seize this moment and soar.
Of course, some things will stay the same.
Time is of the essence.
Freight forwarding used to be a business that was conducted with phones and faxes. Digital technology today makes it possible to communicate information and decisions about shipments in a few keystrokes. With the technology we have, we can’t afford to waste a day or two. So the question to ask is: how timely are your freight forwarding representatives’ responses to you? It should ideally be within the hour, and not stop on weekends. If you call your rep about a shipment to China on Sunday and they do not respond until Monday, it will be Tuesday in China before any action can be taken. If you call your rep about shipping with a vessel right before the cutoff time for inclusion on the sailing, you will have to wait another week for your shipment to sail if the freight forwarder’s representative does not give you an immediate response. In addition, since customer expectations are changing fast, they are expecting faster responses and automated reports whenever possible.
Human-to-human is key.
With some companies, it may be difficult or nearly impossible to get in touch with a real person. Their business strategy simply may not include human-to-human interaction because of cost or scale reasons. To you, your cargo is not just a shipment of goods. It’s a literal moving target of revenue and profit that’s sensitive and priceless. You have many questions about your shipments as they leave the origin, go through customs, or reach the destination. Conveying that knowledge through a real customer service representative jumpstarts a learning process that defines a true partnership. Let’s say there’s a port strike that may affect your shipments. Are you being kept up-to-date on the latest information from insider sources or are you relying on news reports to stay in the know?
Attitude means millions.
International shipping is a complex endeavor that requires the coordination of many moving parts. Should a problem arise with one part of the journey, it needs to be resolved before it can affect the entire supply chain. Are your agents tenacious? Do they have the grit and determination to solve a problematic situation as it comes up? Do they have a sense of urgency? If they don’t personally have the answers, do they know where to find them and how to get them? Knowledge and experience is important, but tenacity will be the deciding factor that enables your freight forwarder to move your shipments forward through every logistical and bureaucratic hurdle.
Customer service has always been the bedrock of logistics. While customer service is a cornerstone in any industry, it is something that cannot be compromised in logistics. The urgency of global shipping makes it a critical component of every freight forwarder’s operational excellence and efficiency.
But the experience wins the future.
Ultimately, customer service is about flexibility and comfort in fast-moving world where there is constant change and immense complexity. The modern company grasps the key insight that every customer relationship is different. There is no one-size-fits all solution; customer service must be sensitive to the small differences that make a big impact. Customer service is now more personal, intimate, and complex. We now have an array of different types of tools and platform to communicate with. It’s about tailoring the right tools to the right person at the right time depending on personal preferences. B2C companies are delivering unforgettable customer experiences already. These are the same customers who will be using logistics services. The expectations have already been set. The logistics companies that are most in tune with customers build their service philosophy on the foundations of traditional thinking, but are also empowered enough to drive forward the new mindset of customer service in B2B industries: creating personal experiences that educate, engage, and amaze.
How will customer service transform in the 21st century?
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