Darren Matthews, Business Development Analyst for WiseTech Global, suggests listening to the people who matter most.  

“Fact: All customers are idiots! They constantly call in with questions and become frustrated when they can’t get answers. They don’t understand the time difference between here and Brazil or that I can’t get their copy of that POD until 4pm. They just blame me every time for their delayed cargo. They just don’t get it!”  

Of course customers are not idiots, but the view here expresses how some of your staff might see them. Such a view can only lead to one outcome: a poor customer experience. Paying close attention to customer complaints is a leadership “best practice.” Here’s an even better practice: Pay closer attention to staff complaints about customers. Few things say more about an organization’s culture and character than employees’ complaints about the clients they serve. 

The “Customer Experience” is ingrained into many industries already, and while they may not always get it right, the retail, telecommunications, and even tourism industries, are investing time and effort into enhancing the customer experience. Of course “a happy customer buys more,” and statistics show that 80% of customers will abandon a retail purchase if they have to wait more than 5 minutes for assistance. So why should the logistics industry be viewed any differently? Ultimately, every customer in every industry wants accuracy of service delivered in a timely manner by knowledgeable staff.

Of course, in the technological times we live, the fallout from poor customer service is reflected online through social media. 51% of Facebook users expect a response to their complaints within a day, and 52% of Twitter users expect one within a 2 hour period! It stands to reason that if customers are using technology to make their complaints known, then we ought to use technology to prevent the complaint in the first place.

Some of today’s leading Transport Management Systems contain the ability to define entire Customer SOP’s into the Workflow engine. Through this process, not only do you list each step, you also define how, when, and by who each step is performed. By working in collaboration with your customers you are able to scope out every detail of their requirements and put this power in the hands of your software where it can guide your staff through every step. Fewer mistakes occur in the life of a job file, and each task is executed correctly. These SOP’s can be different for every client, and your software should be intelligent enough to look at the job file that is being created and recognize what rules to apply based on the information supplied. The more sophisticated Workflow toolkits allow you to build a high level of automation into each of the steps. No longer will your staff have to remember where to send the booking confirmation; your software automatically delivers it to the right recipient on time, every time. The same goes for arrival notices, invoices, and all other documents your staff must manually generate. If we can provide our customers with the right information at the right time, whether good news or bad, we eliminate many of the complaints and criticisms received.

So we have saved your staff time and kept your clients updated with their all-important cargo, all without having to lift a finger. But what about the other staff complaint (mentioned above) regarding delays due to time-zone differences? A single-database solution is the answer to this issue. Bringing all of your global offices into a single database where every aspect of freight movement is recorded and shared removes the delay in waiting for overnight updates. Your colleague in Caracas, for example, won’t have to be in his office to see if his cargo was delivered. All information updates in each office in real-time, meaning no matter whether you sit in Sydney or Sao Paolo, everybody speaks the same language. From pick-up to delivery, departure to arrival, everyone is kept in the loop with shared information.

Customers are the lifeblood of a company. Rather than thinking of them as idiots, treat them like the essential part of your business that they are. Invest in their needs. Your staff need not work harder. Quite the opposite: make your software work smarter. 

Darren Matthews is Business Development Analyst for WiseTech Global

Media Contact: Lisa Tree, lisa.tree@wisetechglobal.com