Competing Against Giants: How Air and Sea beat Kuehne + Nagel, Expeditors and Flexport to win over $2.3M in revenue… in 4 Months

Overview 

Customer service is hard to sell prospects on, especially when everyone in your industry claims to provide “leading customer service.” Sure, you can share testimonials and positive reviews, but service is something customers have to experience to fully value and understand. 

Improving and selling their customer-first approach was a challenge that Air & Sea International was facing early in 2020. As a company that was built from day one on customer service, they were asking themselves: How do we continue to improve the experience and service for our customers? And how do we use that to win new deals?

In this case, both questions had the same answer: digitization. This case study outlines how Air & Sea’s efforts to digitize and modernize the customer experience helped them:

  • Go head-to-head on an RFP against Kuehne + Nagel, Expeditors, and Maersk, to retain a $800,000 account
  • Win 6 customers worth $1.5M within the first four months of adopting Logixboard
  • Win 3 of those new customers competing against digital-first forwarder Flexport

Searching for the Next Evolution of Service

Founded  in 1985, Air & Sea International is a transportation company that provides complete multi-modal shipping and logistics solutions. Since its inception, leadership has made sure to instill a sense of service at the heart of its culture. 

Our company was founded on family values of providing unmatched service to our customers and employees. We build 20+ year relationships with our clients, and pride ourselves on being a supply chain partner, not just a logistics vendor. Our goal is to always deliver on what we’ve promised and keep our customers up to date on their shipment’s status at all times.

Jason Fowler, President

[RELATED POST: Read more about what it means to be a supply chain partner in our Customer Spotlight interview with Jason Fowler, President of Air & Sea International]

Air & Sea has a number of customers that they’ve worked with steadily for over 20 years— a testament to their team’s belief in a customer-first approach. Early in 2020, Jason, the President of Air & Sea, was thinking about how to leverage their service culture to hit the company’s growth plans. Two big challenges kept him up at night:

Challenge #1 – How can we continue to improve and evolve the customer service to stay ahead of competition?

Challenge #2 – How can we get our foot in the door with more prospects to prove our customer focused approach and win long term customers?

While the foundations of good customer service stay the same, customer expectations and the way we deliver great service are constantly shifting. Additionally, every freight forwarder will say they put customers first, but it’s really only something you can prove once you’re working with a client. This makes it really challenging to use as a differentiator in the sales process. Logixboard helped us modernize our approach to customer service, and provided a great way to get into new accounts.

Jason Fowler, President

Solving Challenge 1: Digital Transparency = Delighted Customers

Communication and transparency is a huge part of what drives Air & Sea’s approach to customer service. Previously, this would mean always picking up customer calls, responding quickly to emails, and making sure to be proactive in communicating shipment updates. 

While all those aspects are still important, Jason started noticing that customer expectations were shifting, and they needed an easier, faster, and more scalable way to get updates regarding their shipments. This led Jason down a path to find a way to provide customers with an online platform where they could access and share real-time information about their cargo. 

When Jason and the Air & Sea team was introduced to Logixboard by a partner agent, they had already started exploring a few options for customer engagement platforms, ranging from CargoWise Webtracker to bespoke solutions built by consultants. However, the urgency for finding a solution ramped up after a large client— an $800,0000 account— put out an RFP, putting Air & Sea in direct competition with large players like Kuehne + Nagel, Maersk, Expeditors, and more. 

We needed a platform that could help us go head-to-head against these big players, and Logixboard was the only solution that was up for the task. While we were able to retain our customer’s business, adopting Logixboard also let us double down on improving transparency for all of our customers. This transparency is a huge part of our dedication to service, and is especially important as carriers continue consolidating, which leads to more blank sailings, higher rates, and ultimately, more variability.

Jason Fowler, President

Winning the RFP and keeping their customer provided an immediate return on the investment in Logixboard and gave Air & Sea a way to improve the customer experience and increase transparency for all their customers. However, it also inspired Mike and Sherry, two members of the sales team, with ideas for how they could use their new digital toolset to grow the business… 

Solving Challenge 2: Using Digitization To Open Doors

Winning the RFP helped the Air & Sea team come to two critical realizations:

  1. They could compete with the industry giants including Kuehne + Nagel, Expeditors, and more
  2. Logixboard could be a great sales and marketing tool to open doors

The team had confidence that once they started working with a customer, their service, reliability, and transparency would win the customer over for the long haul. The challenge was that service, reliability, and transparency aren’t something prospects can tangibly see or experience before they start working together. That’s where their new digital toolset filled the gap. 

For me personally, the closure of my sales efforts were challenging before we had a digital offering. But within four months of bringing on Logixboard as our digital customer experience platform, my team and I were able to close 6 new customers worth $1.5M in revenue. And for 3 of those deals, we were competing directly against Flexport.

Mike May, Client Development

Mike, Jason, and the Air & Sea International sales team found that having a digital platform they could use early in the sales process provided a huge advantage when it came to winning new business. When competing against other service-focused freight forwarders, they were able to use Logixboard as a way to differentiate themselves and position Air & Sea as a modern and innovative service provider. When going against larger players, they were able to show they had digital tools that were as good or better than what Kuehne + Nagel, Flexport, or others could provide, and then use their smaller-size and focus on service to help get the deal across the finish line. 

Once we start working with a customer, our retention is extremely high because of our service and execution. Digitizing our customer experience is helping us evolve and enhance both of those things, and it’s also helping us get a foot in the door with more new business. Logixboard gives us the digital tools to differentiate ourselves from smaller agents we compete with, and go head-to-head with larger players Kuehne + Nagel, Expeditors, or Flexport.

Jason Fowler, President

Final Thoughts

Jason, Mike and the team as Air & Sea International have stayed true to their value of putting the customer first. However, as the freight forwarding industry continues to evolve, they’ve adjusted their approach to achieving that mission, in part by digitizing the customer experience. 

As the results have shown, combining a strong foundation of customer service with an agile and modern digital toolset has had a profound impact on how Air & Sea supports their customers and grows the company. 

[RELATED POST: Winning Back a $2.5M Deal with Digitization]

We’re excited to see what happens in 2021! If you’re interested in exploring how Logixboard can help you digitize your customer experience, you can request a demo or email sales@logixboard.com. 

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