The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.
Inboxes are getting an overhaul, one we didn’t know was overdue. With more email-innovating services recently gaining attention, many companies are seeing the potential to use inboxes and the data in them for a massive leap in efficiency.
Spoiler alert: The logistics and transportation industry has a high dependency on email. In our industry, timely responses are critical yet email has remained largely unchanged and operators are constantly missing client communication in their inboxes. Most accept the imperfections of email, supplementing with other platforms, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, which mainly support internal communication. When these methods fail, communication slips into the dreaded personal mobile text thread. We have come too far as an industry to continue working in the same Outlook hell as our predecessors.
Front, an email-optimizing platform, estimates its service results in 17% increased efficiency for team members and that each employee saves six hours per week that they would have spent on email. A 17% reduction in time spent or 17% increase in revenue both spell increased profits in logistics companies.
Limitations of email communication
The difficulties of email surface when multiple recipients are involved, which is the case more often than not in logistics businesses. An email thread can split and lead to confusion due to users responding to different recipients or responding at different points in the thread.
Team members also communicate internally about messages, which comes at the risk of the response being inadvertently forwarded to the customer.
Traditional email doesn’t have a way of assigning ownership of messages for response and follow-up. Teams can use a shared inbox and distribute the messages into folders for individuals, but this is more a workaround than an optimized solution as someone must be tasked with periodically dividing up the messages. Assigning messages by hand also doesn’t take into account the current workload of each team member. A message could go unanswered because the assigned individual is tied up, losing valuable revenue or trust from a customer. There is a need for customizable and intelligent solutions for sorting, prioritizing, alerting and following up. Developing a strategy and implementing additional technology layers helps logistics professionals secure more revenue and make more money.
AI data assistance
Routine, data-driven tasks can also benefit from an updated process and assistance from AI. Document handling and data extraction and analysis are everyday processes that often bottleneck other operations. With the capability to read and interpret data, AI can be applied to email inquiries, saving the team time and giving customers the advantage of a faster response.
Here are a few companies innovating in the email ecosystem that are worth checking out:
The goal of the Superhuman platform is a well-designed email inbox that delivers smarter features, read status receipts, scheduled messages and reminders for follow-up. Many thought Rahul Vohra was crazy when he pitched the idea of a paid email client. I can honestly say as a customer, Superhuman has taken email from the bane of my existence to moderately tolerable. It may not be an excellent solution for teams (yet), but it is a fantastic veneer on top of your gmail for any busy person who receives too many emails. Hitting “in-box zero” brings a sense of satisfaction akin to cleaning your room or finishing a workout.
The Front platform helps optimize communication internally and externally with customers. Logistics providers make up a significant portion of Front’s customer base due to its ability to assign emails to a team member, chat inside of the platform and reference specific order details across teams. The platform integrates multiple communication methods into one platform, including email, TMS, team chat and SMS messages to customers. Many logistics companies are using Front’s API to build execution tools into their inboxes, allowing them to update shipments, respond to requests and even provide rate quotes without toggling to the TMS. It’s easy to do and is relatively low code.
RPA (robotic process automation) Labs uses software bots to streamline processes such as tracking inquiries and quote requests. Using APIs and artificial intelligence, RPA Labs helps freight companies respond to quote inquiries within minutes and with less effort.
FreightTeams is a communication platform for freight professionals. It reduces email noise and inefficiency through visibility both between team members and with customers and carriers. Karl Long, founder of FreightTeams, told me via LinkedIn messenger, “The Freight Teams platform is an email killer, it takes all that email noise surrounding freight requests and organizes it in an easily managed ‘channel.’” When I asked Karl what gave him the inspiration to create FreighTeams, he said, “We came up with the idea for Freight Teams when we saw just how noisy and busy the capacity procurement process was for a freight professional.”
Whether you are a VC-backed FreightTech founder or a baby booming logistics operations pro, there’s room for improvement in your inbox, and you will probably be able to make more money if you get it cleaned up and focused. Figure out the appropriate platform and get it plugged in. Life is too short to live in email limbo!