You’ve likely read your fair share of COVID-19 articles, and at this point, would probably prefer if we talked about literally anything else.
But, this is the state of the world today, and we are all hunting for solutions to overcome the new problems we are facing as professionals, as family members – as humans.
In tackling these challenges in the professional realm, freight forwarders and global shippers are finding clever ways to not only maintain current business operations, but also, new ways to grow business. Whether said business growth happens now or when trade lanes open up more widely again, it is important to use this time to position your business leagues ahead of your competition. Here’s how.
Understand This New Environment
Everyone is afraid, everyone is anxious. Flanked by these two psychological responses to very real stimuli, it’s safe to say that your customers are overwhelmed. They need help easing the weight of fear and anxiety they now get to carry every day.
The most effective way to overcome fear and anxiety is by mitigating uncertainty. At the risk of stating the obvious, uncertainty is that crappy, overwhelming state where you’re worried about the future, which often morphs into fear, anxiety, and whatever else your psychologist may be tempted to give you meds for.
So how do we decrease levels of uncertainty? You find ways to create certainty, to expose portions of your business operation that make the unknown known, to bring clarity to segments where there may be a fog and lacking clarification. If you want to be a leader in your space, it’s on you to figure out how to create certainty and comfort for your customers. The less uncertainty, the more they trust you, and the better you can work together toward a common goal everyone can see and understand.
Make the Unknown Known, and Visible
Most freight forwarders, by no fault of their own, operate in an ecosystem of fragmented processes, unclear procedures, and a general, “wait, what’s the status on this?” state. Sure you can find the answer, but how long does that take? And can you see it?
Humans are visual creatures, so let’s play to that truism. Do you have a central hub where your customers can manage and understand their operations? How often are you sending status reports? The more visually you can present your data, in an easy-to-understand way, the more confident your customer will be in your organization – and likely to come to you when it’s time to move more freight.
The Vital Importance of Speed
2020 is an odd duck of a year, but it’s still the most technologically advanced year we’ve had yet. Leverage that by integrating systems that can provide your customers with solid answers fast. For example, how long does it take for your customer to learn the status of a shipment? If you’re like most freight forwarders, it takes a good bit of time, given that there’s phone calls to be made, emails to get answered, data sheets to sort through, etc. The clock is ticking the second your customer reaches out to you for an update, and the time between their inquiry and your delivering the answer is the most anxiety-ridden space for your customer – and precisely where uncertainty, doubt, and even fear sets in.
Eliminate that space by connecting, even automating, fragmented processes. There are technologies that will integrate your logistics, booking, and tracking systems. They can empower your people to confidently keep your customers apprised of their shipments and even deliver this information before the customer needs to ask. Even though the status quo of global freight is still largely analog and on email, you can be the game changer that presents a new, and better, way of doing business.
Protect Your Business with Tech
In this new world of social distancing, we rely on technology more than ever before. In-person interactions are largely banned, thrusting the necessity of digital conferencing and communications upon nearly every industry. The businesses that are staying afloat – and even growing – are those that moved their systems onto the cloud and digitized their processes before this all happened.
It’s not too late for you to do the same.
Find technologies that allow you to get your systems online and in the cloud. One place to start is in documentation and communication. The point that you want to get to as a service provider is to communicate so well with your customers that they don’t need to ask you check-in questions – because you’ve already anticipated those questions and have automated the reports and status updates they need.
New Technologies Bring Hope
One of the great joys in life is having something to look forward to. By doing the good work of restructuring your business with the innovative technologies of the future, you’re giving your customers (and yourself!) something to get excited about. Something that brings hope. Something that proves that although the way we do business is changing, there will still be business to be done.
You can be that thought leader in your industry, and wow your customers with fresh ideas they’ve never seen before. And in a world of global pandemic, which is something most of us have never seen before, we need new solutions that we haven’t tried before.
This isn’t the end of the world, there will be a thriving economy on the other side of this. The truth about that new world is it will be empowered with the most impressive technologies we’ve ever seen, and there’s engineers all over the world building software that everyone can get excited about. Do the research on what technologies can improve your specific operations, protect your business, and even win new customers in a time of crisis.