- Service providers are starting to see logistics not just as a delivery mechanism, but as a marketing tool. Technology that allows them to retain and satisfy customers is what is going to win in the next year and beyond.
So getting back to the topic, what’s the most important success factor in logistics?
Here’s the result:
Client’s expectations – 50%
Technology – 33%
HR – 16%
Transportation management – 4%
Building brands through customer experience
Today’s logistics leaders have to be customer experience leaders. Instead of thinking like operations, we have to put on the marketer and customer success hats and prioritize the delivery experience the customer receives – branding, UX, speed of delivery, transparency, visibility.
However, there’s a disconnect between the high level ideals of logistics as marketing and the reality that’s often in place on the warehouse floor, at the loading dock, and in the front office.
- Staff are too busy: warehouse staff are too inundated with administrative work to bother with providing great service – in a commodity industry where margins are critical, it simply isn’t possible to hire a “CX person”.
- Legacy customer communication: the majority of communication with customers is through email and over the phone. This is time consuming and painful for your staff and customers alike.
Logistics leaders should then focus on reducing these pain points in their teams by promoting the following:
- Invest in technology that simplifies staff workloads and reduces administrative burden
- Reduce complexity and make the customer journey as effortless as possible
Digitizing the supply chain
Along with the focus on customer experience, it’s also critical that today’s logistics leaders digitize all aspects of their supply chains. This includes communication, documentation, analytics, and the processes of booking, order, and inventory management. Digital transformation is the process of using new technologies to create or optimize internal business processes and customer experiences to improve market position and meet business needs.
This means that when you work to digitize the supply chain, you have to do so through the lens of customer experience. This time, you can work backwards – what’s preventing you from delivering the customer experience that you want?
- Automate and centralize the booking process: don’t let your staff waste their valuable time in the process of manually booking shipments through various portals and communication with carriers and drivers to secure booking confirmation.
- Work with your partners on the same platform: the software you use, whether as a distributor or a 3PL, should make it easy to collaborate in real time and outsource specific supply chain responsibilities.
- Automate the documentation process: one of the hidden hurdles in the digital transformation of the supply chain is the vast amounts of shipping documentation that needs to be processed. Invest in software that handles this, and communicates it to the right stakeholders securely for approval.
This digital transformation will also make it easier to gain valuable analytics and insight on both your internal operations and your customers’ purchasing patterns. Next-generation software will have to do both – aggregate the metrics that help you measure and analyze your internal performance, as well as providing insight into how customers are receiving the delivery experience that you provide.
Smart suggestions to plan operations in advance
Nobody can perfectly predict buying patterns, supplier timeframes, and carrier or driver rates. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be running blind. Logistics leaders will need to embrace the data revolution and use analytics, KPIs, and AI-powered suggestions to predict buying patterns, identify problematic carriers/drivers and lanes, and estimate order lead times. In a commodity market like logistics, this is what will create the biggest wins – maximized operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
The first step towards planning and forecasting operations performance is to collect the right metrics. Great freight technology can help you with this – aggregating and centralizing data across your scatter booking processes, order management systems, and warehouse management system. Only when all your data is in one place can you look at the overall success metrics that really matter – allowing you to track freight spend, lane performance, carrier/driver performance, and inventory turnover in one location.
Wrapping up, there are three key areas that logistics executives need to take into consideration to be successful:
- Become customer-centric: measure and improve upon a branded customer experience
- Reduce non-revenue generating tasks: automate the administrative tasks and focus on building customer relationships
- Use analytics to plan ahead: analyze your operations and customer journey periodically to improve efficiency and performance.
Bringing these elements into your strategy can only strengthen your customer relationships and operational efficiency. If you’re not prioritizing this, you’re already falling behind the leaders.