Customers across every industry have higher expectations than ever before. Quality and quick service at affordable prices are baseline standards. Logistics is grounded in serving customers, so providers like carriers and 3PLs must not only meet but exceed these demands to keep and attract business.
In a recent Industry Update, FreightWaves sat down with DDC FPO’s Donna Kintop, senior vice president of client experience for North America, to learn what DDC’s clients are coming to her with and how they are advising companies to maintain growth during this time.
“As everyone knows, customer service differentiates you from your competitors. That first impression with your customers and building a strong relationship is so critical to retaining business these days,” Kintop said.
It’s becoming difficult for logistics providers to deliver beyond customer expectations due to the impacts of recent global affairs and trends, however. The effects of catastrophes and crises in one country ripple through the supply chain and have impacts on the other side of the world.
A pandemic, war, natural disasters due to climate change, cyclical challenges of the freight industry, and hints of a potential freight recession on the horizon have created, and continue to create, obstacles in daily operations. There is an ever-apparent struggle to deliver great service through the market highs and lows while also staying profitable.
One challenge that has become more noticeable in recent months is inflation. Often used as an indicator of inflation, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the percentage change in the average price consumers pay for goods and services over time. From March 2021 to March 2022, the CPI for all urban consumers rose 8.5%.
For logistics providers, this can translate into rising operational costs across the board, including increasing health care and insurance premiums, cost of training programs, equipment expenses and more. Customers are bound to bear at least some of the burden of these rising expenses.
Customers also anticipate instant gratification at a high level of service. If a provider doesn’t respond promptly, customers will find a provider that will. They expect to be able to reach out through every avenue possible — whether that be phone, email, instant message or even social media.
Providers must have the personnel available to respond through these channels and also communicate in a wide variety of languages, as often they are working with people of many different backgrounds in many different locations.
Many logistics providers just don’t have the in-house staffing capacity to meet these needs.
DDC FPO is answering the challenges logistics providers are facing today. DDC recently expanded its back-office solutions to add a front-facing, Customer Care suite of services. These new offerings include customer service-based and inside sales-focused solutions to help its partners achieve long-term success.
“We have built trusting relationships with our customers over the last 32 years — 17 years here in the logistics industry. We do a great job for them on their other processes. As their businesses are continuing to evolve and grow and need some assistance, they’ve reached out to us and asked us if we can help,” Kintop said.
Outsourcing some or many customer service operations is one way that logistics providers may find resources that can help them meet — and exceed — customer expectations. Partnering with a business process outsourcer (BPO) that is knowledgeable in logistics with years of industry experience can be an effective option for a company to keep healthy margins in a challenging market while also keeping pace with the changing needs of customers. At the same time, it is also a means of taking some burden off of business leaders to give them greater flexibility and the ability to focus on the core competencies of their businesses.
By partnering with the right BPO, providers can help lower operations costs. DDC offers locked-in rates through its service-level agreements for long-term cost containment for its partners. This helps providers feel some relief from the inflationary burden and keep costs manageable for their own customers.
BPOs have the resources to help partners overcome borders as well. For instance, DDC offers services in more than 30 languages to provide multilingual customer support for its partners, which are located in North America, the U.K., Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Its teams are available around the clock, every day of the year, and are available to assist customers across a wide range of communication channels. They can provide assistance in answering general inquiries, shipment requests, order tracking, proof-of-delivery retrieval, dispatching, complaint resolution, technology assistance and more.
In addition to its front-facing customer service offerings, DDC’s inside sales solutions include:
- Lead qualification and generation.
- Portfolio management.
- Account management.
- Price quoting.
- Customer research.
“All of these efforts are either built to grow the revenue within a certain segment of clients or expand the customer base [or] react to clients that may have gone dormant — and so we look at that program as a holistic program,” Kintop said.
In business, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is especially true for the diverse logistics industry. Working with an experienced BPO like DDC allows logistics providers to receive customizable services to help manage their customer service operations in a way that is specific to individual needs.