Commercial Freight and Logistics
Commercial Freight and Logistics has been in the logistics game for nearly 40 years thanks to an impeccable track record in customer service.
Award-winning logistics company Commercial Freight and Logistics (CFL) began operations in a single office in 1980. Since then, its scope has expanded to include a Sydney warehouse, offices in three Australian cities, independent agents in every Australian and New Zealand port, and globally in 191 countries.
The freight industry is always changing, but, over the past 38 years, CFL has found that the key to its success has remained the same: providing best-in-class customer service. The company’s track record in outstanding customer care speaks for itself—some of CFL’s original clients back in 1980 are still using the freight forwarder’s services today.
Staying on top of the customer service game is a difficult task in an industry where customer expectations are rising along with pressure on margins, but CFL takes a simple approach to the problem: start with the customer, and think long-term. For director Paul Walsh, that means focusing on people.
“In our business, we don’t provide a product—it’s only a service,” says Walsh.
“So it’s all about your people, it’s all about your staff. They’re available to clients 24/7. In this day, that’s what clients are looking for.”
This commitment to attentive, always-available customer service is so important to CFL that the company has had to make significant tradeoffs for the sake of keeping customers happy. In the past, CFL has had to spend more on outsourced work, or even turn down new projects if they threatened to compromise service levels.
“We’ve rejected business when we thought that we couldn’t handle it properly,” says Walsh.
“We couldn’t take our eyes off existing clients to go and chase new business. You know, our existing clients would suffer.”
For CFL, putting customers first isn’t just a value that the company wants to uphold. It’s also the blueprint for how the business is run, influencing everything from recruitment to customs broking to technology.
“We want to make sure that our customers get the best experience that they can,” says IT manager Daniel Kind.
“We need to have a system that’s able to move work around that also reports on exceptions.”
That system is CargoWise One, a single-platform software solution CFL has been using to increase the efficiency, visibility, and profitability of its operations.
Kind believes that CFL’s decision to adopt CargoWise One fits perfectly with the company’s ethos, in that it “has essentially allowed us to not only do more with the resources that we have, but to do it in a way that we feel the customer experience is quality.”
All this means that CFL no longer has to make difficult tradeoffs where they might have in the past. A task that once required outsourcing can now be largely automated. Improvements in productivity and office connectivity have seen staff capacity rise, allowing CFL to take on more customers.
“Margins are very low, so we have to be as efficient as possible,” says Walsh.
“With CargoWise One, we’ve found you can be anywhere in the world and operate. So we’ve been able to spread the workflow throughout our various offices in Australia.”
The big moment for CFL came when the company decided to enter the Lloyd’s List Australia Shipping Awards, a celebration of Australia’s best customs brokers and freight forwarders with regard to excellence in customer service and going “beyond the call of duty.”
“In 2014 we were runner-up for Customs Broker of the Year, and in 2015 we successfully won the Lloyd’s List,” says Walsh.
But for a company like CFL, being recognized as the country’s #1 customs broker isn’t the goal and has never been the goal. The award is just a reflection, Walsh says, of “the service level that our staff have been giving to our clients.”
As CFL continues to explore what CargoWise One has to offer, the company’s next development in customer service is just around the corner.