You purchase a product and something about it does not meet your expectations – we’ve all been there. Although many companies know that an easy return process can go a long way in customer satisfaction, there are still those that make returns a challenge. As consumers we favor companies with easy processes and positive experiences and stay away from those that can be tougher to work with or don’t follow through on the service end.
The same can be true when partnering with a 3PL. Although clients aren’t looking for an easy return process, they are looking for a positive customer experience to happen before, during, and after their shipments are booked.
When it comes to driving value out of the partnership there are two levels that need to be considered. The combination of these will ensure that you are covering the basic blocking and tackling while setting a vision for the way you will maximize your partnership over time.
How do I get the best rates from carriers? What problems arise in the supply chain that could be avoided by utilizing a 3PL? Why isn’t my current process working the way I expected?
These questions are addressed by the tactical relationship the provider has with their customer and is what drives the partnership forward. Troubleshooting and problem solving are the responsibility of an experienced logistics team. This team ensures that you keep moving forward with your logistics and never miss a beat. Important aspects include: ease of requesting help, professional team members, seamless escalation of incidents, and a single point of contact through full resolution. This team should also feed key data back to the organization to allow for a more robust customer engagement strategy.
Another important component of this relationship is the self-serve option for basic functions. Picture this: you are rushing around in the morning and stop into your favorite coffee shop to grab a cup of black coffee. There is a line of 20 people and you know that this will slow you down. You see a station where you can fill up a cup and drop your money in a receptacle. You fill up and are back on your way. This simple modification to the shop's process gave you a high level of customer satisfaction. How would your perception of the customer service you received change if you stood in the line only to be late to your morning meeting? Giving customer documentation, training and other resources via a knowledge base often keeps customers moving. GTS understands customers have different needs and offers a shipping automation app to provide instant quotes for online shipping.
What business changes are coming up in our organizations that would need to be addressed by a 3PL? What are we not taking advantage of today that would be of interest? How could we change our business process to better align?
Relationship managers are key to ongoing and long-term vision of the partnership. They open the conversation to understand your current and future business needs. As your advocate, the relationship manager will act as your voice internally to give your perspective on future development. Also, look for this person to also acts as a "priority manager." It is not only about identifying value increasing opportunities, but to create touch points to ensure that you are implementing and seeing results.
Keys to Success
Remember utilizing a 3PL should be treated as a partnership. There are things every client can do to drive value out of the partnership and increase the likelihood of accelerating ROI. Start with clear communication to create a guideline. This should include the direction of your organization and explain not only where you are headed, but the timing and objectives.