Creating Logistics Software With An Eye For Customer Experience
Providing an exceptional customer experience has become the main topic of discussion in most industries, including logistics. Third-party logistics providers strive to attract and retain customers by creating feature-rich customer portals.
Moreover, in 2020, B2B companies consider digital interactions two to three times more important to their customers than traditional interactions according to McKinsey research. The major spike in demand for transportation services has forced companies to automate and streamline their processes. Taking these facts into consideration, creating platforms where customers can track and order shipments at any time has become an unspoken rule in the transportation industry.
Some companies have already introduced client portals and are reaping the benefits of this decision. Some are still doubtful and remain behind their competitors.
If you’ve decided to create a self-service portal for your individual or business clients, it’s high time to take action. Creating a self-service portal will allow you to successfully compete with market leaders as well as get a competitive advantage over those who are still hesitating.
At Claritus, we receive lots of inquiries from logistics companies looking to build customer portals. In this article, we walk you through the main benefits of creating this type of software and help you decide on the requirements for your application. We hope this information will help you make a decision and develop a solution that will be warmly welcomed by your customers.
Why client portals are a boon for logistics companies
There are strong reasons behind the desire to build a customer portal as fast as possible. We’ve thoroughly analyzed the logistics market and the inquiries we’ve received to define some of the most common benefits of creating a customer portal:
- Reduced operational costs
Traditionally, to book a truckload shipment or check the status of a delivery process, a customer had to call a dedicated logistics manager or sales representative. By creating a self-service customer app, you enable your customers to check information or fill in order information by themselves, reducing the number of support requests.
Customer autonomy lets agents work more productively, focusing on more complex tasks and solving problems faster.
- Increased customer satisfaction
Customer portals empower users to access information or order services 24/7 without contacting a customer support representative. Within the last few years, self-service portals have become a necessity for organizations in many industries.
A customer app will also help you increase customer satisfaction by gathering valuable insights into customer behavior. This data will help you improve the quality of your services and deliver a more personalized user experience.
- Increased customer lifetime value
Convenient services along with visibility of your processes can encourage customers to work with you on an ongoing basis. When you build transparent relationships with your customers and let them see all information and documents regarding their shipment orders in one place, they’ll want to keep using your app. Providing visibility and personalized offers is a great way to increase customer retention.
How to meet increasing customer expectations?
To reap the benefits we’ve described above, your service should effectively meet specific customer needs. Bear in mind that in most companies, apps for customers mirror information from internal software like transport management systems, order management software, and warehouse management systems. So as a rule, creating a customer portal is infeasible without automating a company’s internal processes (if you don’t have any software yet) or integrating existing software with new software solutions.
What can help you create software aligned with your business?
To build a customer portal, some companies mistakenly follow the strategy of creating custom applications identical to the apps of their rivals. Unfortunately, this strategy has a high risk of failure, since it doesn’t take into consideration the specificity of a company’s business processes and customers’ needs.
To build an application that meets the needs of your customers and is perfectly aligned with your business processes, you should conduct a thorough analysis of your business processes and existing software solutions. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to define the requirements for your customer portal:
1. What are the most common questions customers ask your logistics agents?
Survey your employees on the most common questions and problems your customers bring to the support team. This will help you define the top priorities for your customer portal. Do employees have problems accessing invoices or bills of lading? Then creating a convenient document database should be a high priority.
2. Is it convenient for your employees to use your existing software?
Interview your employees about the convenience of using existing software. What functionality do existing solutions cover and what tasks should your logistics managers do manually?
Create a list of problems your employees encounter when using the software. Analyze the potential causes of mistakes and data losses. Also, define what processes could be automated.
3. How is information stored and processed?
Before your customers can access the information they need in the customer portal, ensure that information is effectively stored and processed on your TMS or ERP software. How do agents collect and change information about shipments? What software do they use for these purposes? Are there any risks of a data breach? How do your employees gather information for reports and exchange data between operating units? Answer these questions to find possible room for improvements for storing and exchanging data.
4. How can customers access shipment information?
Do your agents send shipment information manually via email or is it sent automatically? How do they notify your customers about delays or arrivals? Define the most favorable communication channels and the format in which information will be sent to users. Also, pay close attention to integration with your existing software so information is immediately changed and sent to the customer portal via a safe communication channel.
As you can see, building a successful customer portal is impossible without internal software (like a TMS, WMS, or ERP) that works like a clock. If you want to create a custom client portal that integrates with third-party solutions or create both a TMS and customer portal, you can rely on us. Claritus has solid experience creating logistics software even under tight deadlines as well as integrating custom software with existing solutions.
You can learn more about what we can do for logistics companies or contact us directly to discuss a solution tailored to your particular needs. here