Does Your Freight Forwarding Company Meet Shipper Expectations?

With the scarce capacity and high demand of orders, 2021 was an extremely busy year for freight forwarders managing existing and new customer shipments. As shippers continue to scour the market for partners that can help them move record volumes of freight, the question forwarders need to ask is “Am I offering a competitive service that can win new business?”

A recent white paper by FreightWaves and Logixboard helps answer this question, analyzing responses from 100 shippers to gather data on what they look for from their freight forwarding partners. 

Join us as we dive deeper into what shippers actually want from their freight forwarders (ranked below by importance) and what your company needs to be doing to win their business.

1.  Customer Service

It is no surprise that Customer Service came in as the top priority of shippers when evaluating a freight forwarder. Providing quality, personalized Customer Service has been the standard in this industry due to the importance of differentiating in a field of competitively priced services. 

78 percent of surveyed shippers ranked “customer service and individualized attention” as “very important” when scoring characteristics of importance for freight forwarders.

Shippers are looking for easy, personalized processes for every touchpoint with their forwarders. To evaluate your own customer service offerings, forwarders must ask themselves if they are hitting on the most vital pieces of Customer Service for their shippers:

  1. Communication and Responsiveness
    Shippers need to know that they have a direct line of contact with their forwarder for updated tracking information, unexpected delays in the shipping process, general updates, or just for their own piece of mind. Reaching out proactively with speed, and consistently or offering a digital visibility tool will increase the trust your clients place in you.
  2. Industry Knowledge
    Providing a strong knowledge base for your customers will help soothe the minds of shippers. Giving personalized logistics advice based on the regulations and protocol for their orders will help demonstrate that operations will run as smoothly as possible when partnering with you.
  3. Personalized Approach
    Providing personalized visibility data, communications, and insights to your shippers proves they are partnering with a team of real people who want them to succeed. There isn’t a one size fits all for logistics needs, so listening to a shipper and making sure your services cover or exceed their demands is necessary to win/retain their business.
  4. Addition of Value
    Overall, freight forwarders need to be adding value. Make sure shippers feel heard, trust your services, and see improvements in their overall operations by having you as a partner.

While these aspects are core to providing top-tier Customer Service, as shipper Customer Service expectations are evolving, it is becoming clear that the adoption of new technologies is critical for freight forwarders. This leads us to the second most important aspect: digitization.

2. Digitization

“Cutting edge technology and digital tools” were rated “very important” by 53% of the surveyed shippers. As an industry, freight forwarding has seen a surge in Digitization and Technology Innovations that has started to change what is offered from forwarders as they manage shipments from point A to B. The industry as a whole has been slower to embrace these changes, with some saying shifts may be at odds with the traditional customer service discussed above. Fear of creating a less personal approach to Customer Service has created a lag in adaptation and pushed some companies behind as they resist leveling up with Technology. Refusing to adapt means refusing to meet shipper standards and creates a risk of losing customers and new business.

Technology is not only a critical factor in continuing to win new customers, it’s also the key to maintaining current customers and reducing churn by staying in tune with the needs of your shippers. 50 percent of shippers from the study say that in the next 5 years they will be working with freight forwarders with Digital Technologies that provide better visibility, analytics, workflows, etc. While nearly half of survey shippers also state that they have left a forwarder for competition with better Technology:

In order to continue competing, freight forwarders need to have a powerful, best-in-class digital offering. In-house solutions can take time and money, so exploring third party solutions that directly integrate into your current transportation management system is a smart approach for small to mid-sized forwarding companies.

3. Price

Many freight forwarders believe that competing on price is the most important aspect when trying to win a shipper’s business, but this survey found it to be rated lower on their list of top priorities. Only 42% of shippers rated price as “very important.” Interestingly enough, not only is price not the top factor, but shippers also stated they are willing to pay more to work with shippers who execute well on the first two points above – Customer Service and Digitization. 

These survey results show that the real competition is not a price war, but a battle of Customer Experience and Technology. Read the full white paper here to see the complete results from the shipper survey.

How Do You Make Sure TOP Shipper Priorities Are Covered?

Now that you have read the current top priorities of shippers, how should you act on this?

Easy…use these priorities to make sure your company is aligning and fulfilling their updated needs:

  1. Focus on delivering the best Customer Experience you can offer with tools and protocols.
  2. Stay up to date on the latest Technology Innovations and offerings in the industry by following Logixboard on LinkedIn.
  3. Maintain a clear line of communication with your shippers to stay ahead of changing priorities to keep an advantage against competitors.

Customer Service continues to be the main priority of shippers when evaluating freight forwarders, but the expectations of that experience have grown to overlap and converge with the technological advancements now seen in the logistics industry. Technology must be part of your continued strategy to ensure you are not left behind.

To dive deeper into the recent shipper survey by FreightWaves and Logixboard, access the complete white paper here.

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