Customer Management Logistics

OTP electronics are one of the

When it comes to customer service, shippers want their carriers and 3PLs to provide the complete package.

In today’s complex supply chain environment, customer service between shippers and their logistics providers means more than just a friendly voice on the line when something goes wrong. It is more than the ability to track a shipment or expedite a delivery. Today, shippers expect their logistics providers to take a “cradle-to-grave” approach to customer service, providing insight, strategic guidance, and a wide range of capabilities from the very beginning to the very end of the supply chain. From transportation of inbound raw materials to vendor management to outbound deliveries and everything in between, shippers depend on their providers to execute flawlessly, while acting as an extension of their company.

Automotive parts and service chain Pep Boys, for example, sets high customer service standards for Agility, its global third-party logistics (3PL) provider. “We expect Agility to be on top of each part of our supply chain, every day, ” says Joshua J. Dolan, director of global logistics and U.S. customs compliance for Pep Boys. “We depend on them for cradle-to-grave management.”

To meet these types of expectations, logistics providers must take the time to truly understand their shippers’ supply chains, to know the complexities of the industries they function in, to design their functionalities around desired outcomes, and to determine how to ease their customers’ customers’ pain points. It is a big job, and one that is likely to get bigger.

“With so much change in the supply chain environment, shippers increasingly need logistics providers to better support their businesses going forward, ” says Dr. C. John Langley, author of the 2010 3PL Report, conducted in conjunction with Cap Gemini, which examines the global market for 3PL services. “Operational effectiveness has always been imperative, but it is underscored now because shippers are trying to run leaner and meaner without compromising service to their own customers.”

Stepping Up the Game

3PLs and carriers are responding to increased shipper demands by stepping up their games, pushing customer service to the forefront. Many providers have adopted service-centric cultures to ensure they meet shippers’ service requirements— and to gain a competitive advantage in the crowded outsourced logistics and transportation field.

“From our drivers all the way up to our CEO, service is the culture at C.R. England, ” says Mike Tucker, general manager, Chicago Regional, for refrigerated trucking company C.R. England. “When new drivers join our regional fleet, the importance of customer service is the second thing we talk about— after safety— because if we don’t satisfy customers, we don’t stay in business.”

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