Logistics Best Practices in Customer Support

Transportation management has become a challenging mountain to climb for many shippers.  Partnering with a third party firm to enhance, build, and sustain an efficient and optimized supply chain are among the most important logistics best practices.  A reliable freight payment company will become a strategic partner to help you save time and money, assuming they competently support your requests.

The ability to listen, understand and execute client requests is critical to building and maintaining a positive relationship.  For the logistics professional, a freight payment company’s customer support can reflect on your own performance and reputation.  If you’ve been tasked with fine-tuning and optimizing the freight payment process you must receive the attention necessary to meet and exceed expectations.

Freight Payment Requires Superior Customer Support

Freight audit and payment is a business of managing the details.  Shippers understand that invoicing is different between carriers with most freight bills requiring careful attention.  The finance department often dictates cost allocation logic and GL codes that inevitably change.  Carrier contracts require special handling to assure audit accuracy.  To support cost-savings initiatives, customized reports need to be created.  These tasks can become overwhelming if a shipper doesn’t have the support of a responsive freight payment company. When evaluating the logistics best practices of your current provider or prospective freight payment company, consider the following three features of customer support:

Logistics Best Practice #1: Access to a Dedicated Team

Gone are the days when a single-point of contact for customer service issues was a best practice.  Today’s shipping environment is much more complex, requiring a dedicated team of support staff who have specialized skill sets.  In the freight payment world, the ideal customer service structure would include three representatives.  First, an Account Manager who has ultimate responsibility for customer satisfaction.  Second, a Senior Auditor who manages the day-to-day audit and payment operations.  And third, a Programmer Analyst who provides technical support.  A shipper must identify the logistics best practices of the freight payment service provider.  It begins with having direct access to the team assigned to their account.  Any degree of separation from the highly trained specialist working on projects can cause problems and increase the likelihood of frustration.

Logistics Best Practice #2: Online Task Tracker

When evaluating a freight payment company, ask direct questions about how they track and monitor customer service.  With freight payment, customer service issues are diverse, ranging from GL coding and audit issues to custom report requests.  It is a common practice to employ multiple team members when addressing a single request.

While issue tracking systems are common in other industry applications, there use is rare amongst freight payment companies.  When you consider the complex nature of freight payment and auditing, a superior response that is fully documented should be managed through an integrated issue tracking tool.  If your freight payment company does not include a web-based task management system, it may be assumed, at the very least, any history of customer service is untraceable.

Logistics best practices dictate any task, issue, project, or problem be assigned a unique case number.  Each case would be assigned to the correct person and redirected if the assignee was not available.  Periodic updates would be required, escalating through management levels to ensure a timely response.  The case management tool would track and document progress through to completion.  All open and closed cases would be retained online and allow for research on all issues along with their resolution.

Logistics Best Practice #3: Documented Special Projects

Freight payment companies must be able to illustrate how their customer service goes above and beyond for every client.  Perhaps the best way to provide ongoing support for custom requests is to generate defined projects with an executable scope of work.  Only an organized, well-thought-out plan can properly secure results that meet or exceed client expectations.

The logistics best practices found in customer support require a systematic approach to special requests.  When customers petition special handling beyond the scope of normal work, they must be documented.  Special requests would be initiated using an online task management system.  Objectives, proposed procedures, and general scope of work would be defined.   A detailed proposal would be drafted to document all processes and management controls, including any other freight payment objectives that might be adversely impacted by the project.  Any additional cost to the shipper for the project roll-out would be itemized to minimize any surprises.  Ultimately, a detailed project checklist would be created to execute the project to the client’s satisfaction.

Shippers Deserve the Best Support

Your freight payment and audit provider should embrace the logistics best practices that support superior customer service.  A dedicated team of support staff coupled with an online task management tool will allow any shipper to see how tasks and projects are being managed by the freight payment company.  Additionally, any special projects will be succinctly executed if the process is reduced to writing and both shipper and freight payment company buy-in to the solution.

Shippers deserve superior customer support.  If you aren’t getting that today, then perhaps it’s time to partner with a firm who can deliver the attention you deserve.

Download the SSI white paper on critical customer support features to learn more.