Many companies focus on the customer experience as a way to differentiate themselves. For trucking companies and brokers, competing on price alone has become increasingly common and difficult, meaning that differentiation through customer experience and service is mandatory to survive.
This is nothing new. In any industry, most businesses generate 80% of their revenue from 20% of their customers. This ‘pareto principle’, or the 80/20 rule, certainly applies in the transportation space. Often times, a few key accounts can make up a significant, if not the majority, of revenue for trucking companies and 3PLs. It’s obviously paramount then that these large accounts are properly supported to not only avoid churn, which can be catastrophic, but to actually grow and expand the business.
To support these top accounts, transportation companies are constantly striving, and often struggling, to provide a great customer experience. An experience where the customer feels welcomed and engaged with your brand, while all of their core needs are met (on-time service, damage-free deliveries, access to the right data at the right time, etc).
Historically, trucking companies and brokers have provided this experience through customer service reps. And historically, this was sufficient. However, enter the Amazon Effect, where consumers expect instant information, real-time visibility, real-time delivery data, full transparency, 100% consistency and total predictability.
As this Amazon Effect shifts into the B2B space, shippers are expecting the same type of experience at work as they receive at home. Meaning shippers are demanding far more than they ever have from their carriers and brokers. Customer experience, then, requires a clear vision of what that customer journey will be and how your business will support it through its internal processes and resources. And when a good customer service rep is no longer enough, investments in best-in-class technology becomes fundamental.
Justin Bailie, chief strategy officer for Rose Rocket, told FreightWaves that shippers are insisting that carriers modernize the way they do business to improve this customer experience.
“We speak with some of the largest carriers in the industry every day,” he said. “They are under a ton of pressure from their biggest customers who are demanding an easier way to do business with them. They need visibility that is on-demand. Better visibility really means better communication. This is what is key to a great customer experience”.
While it is easy to say that investment in technology is more crucial than ever before, carriers and 3PLs are still struggling to find the solution. Not only can choosing the right technology be a challenge, the investments are often large and can impact the C-Suite, the front-line employees, and your customers. The choices of where to invest have also become increasingly fragmented and crowded.
Rose Rocket believes when making a new investment in technology, start with the piece that touches your customers on a daily basis. Rose Rocket offers an order management platform that works with traditional and cloud-based transportation management systems (TMS), giving the end user, your client, a robust customer portal for real-time communication.
While some TMS’s have their own version of a customer portal to funnel information and data to the customer, Rose Rocket believes many are not used properly, or at all.
“I’ve talked to a lot of executives at trucking companies who say they have a customer portal, but nobody uses it,” Bailie said. “The reason nobody uses it is because it has no utility.”
Rose Rocket is among the companies trying to change that. The Rose Rocket Order Management System offers carriers and 3PLs a unique value add to their customers; live time pricing, rating and spot quotes, real-time track and trace, live customer chat within each order, updated ETAs and appointment scheduling, and document management. This easy-to-use portal drives customers to your site, in turn driving better engagement, communication and ultimately, retention.
“This is a true competitive advantage for our customers; it isn’t just smoke and mirrors” Bailie said. “You are going to help your customers win with technology by breaking down communication silos between your systems, your team, and your customers. When you add value beyond moving freight, you can finally be able to use the word ‘partner’ in the proper way.”
New technology can open doors to offering a great and modern customer experience, but ultimately the results of what that experience looks like depends on a company’s vision, and their existing technology stack.
Bailie believes that the customer experience of the future is not only built with technology, but with technology that is extensible.
Utilizing a cloud-based system that acts as an overlay to a TMS, the Rose Rocket order management system allows brokers and carriers to choose the applications that best fit their needs, regardless of the underlying TMS. Through its open-architecture APIs, trucking companies can choose all of the applications that best suit their business while easily integrating into all of the pre-existing technology within the company.
“Modern companies today are building their businesses using platforms supported by micro-services … this could be dozens of applications that work together to become the TMS,” Bailie said. “We believe a modern TMS is made up of multiple specialized vertical applications, including order management. Gone are the days of having one monolithic piece of software on a server. Using Rose Rocket as your order management software allows us to be the customer-facing hub of your modern TMS; or as we say, the truth of the order.”
Ultimately, a successful customer experience strategy requires technology that enables every interaction with your company to be easier and faster.
For carriers and 3PLs, using technology that is customer-facing and flexible can embody that philosophy, allowing them to extend that positive customer experience further down the chain. Whether it is rating, pickup and delivery, tracking, or billing, the easier the process is for the shipper, the better the customer experience.
The goal for any transportation service provider is to ensure their customers are successful, and the need to improve the customer experience is more urgent than ever before.
“It is absolutely naïve to think the internet will not further disrupt your business in the next 10 years, so ask yourself, ‘How can I prepare?’” Bailie said. “If I’m a trucking company, how do I create this value for my customers? Not only to help shippers not be disrupted but rather how to win. That’s what we want our customers to think about, and what we want to help them do.”