Excellent article taken from Transport Topics, Aug. 11, 2009.
Opinion: The Customer Service, Dispatch Dilemma –
By Greg Shelton, Dispatch Consultant
As the recession deepens, there is growing awareness in the transportation industry of the role dispatchers play in keeping third-party logistics firms and freight brokerages competitive, particularly in the areas where dispatch and customer service collide.
This article reviews the fierce competition that exists in today’s market. More and more Brokerages and 3PLs are striving for higher levels of customer service standards to keep customers. Let’s face it – “keeping customers happy is a matter of corporate life or death”, states Shelton.
Think of it as the evolution of dispatch, in which basic survival depends on a company establishing and observing customer service standards. In a normal economy, hiring more customer service staff might solve the problem, but that’s difficult during a belt-tightening recession. It’s a dilemma that has caused some companies to reach outside the transportation industry and hire customer service and call center managers to help them make do with existing staff.
An experienced manager from another industry could help a company become more efficient by instituting phone upgrades, call accounting and service standards and by creating clear guidelines for various problem-escalation situations. An outside manager also could optimize staffing models by examining call volume spikes and pinpointing scheduling needs by means of forecasts.
But there is a caveat: Bringing in a manager from another industry might sound good to a company in this chaotic environment, but it also might prove to be counterproductive.
Look at this way: Hockey and lacrosse are somewhat similar sports. They both use sticks, have face-offs and use goalies. A hockey coach, while unfamiliar with lacrosse, could use the same techniques to motivate players and evaluate talent on the field, but that is where his effectiveness would end. Shooting a puck off a stick while on skates is radically different than running full speed and launching a ball out of a net.
This is the potential problem with managers from nontransportation backgrounds. Their intentions are good, but relying solely on their previous experience and knowledge will block any chance of success.
Customer service’s focus is on the individual caller and on never giving that caller cause to consider the experience negatively. Call center managers are trained to promote efficiency and work inside statistical models — calls should be answered in so many rings, resolved in so many seconds and agents should answer a predetermined number of calls per shift.
But one cannot assume these methods will translate effectively in a dispatch environment. A dispatcher’s job is to keep freight moving, and as a result there are countless situations encountered on a daily basis that may require excessive time or a firm hand. A manager has to realize that.
There is a real danger in companies becoming so dazzled with call reports and efficiency upgrades that they fail to see the department actually is regressing. Dispatchers become less self-reliant, less diligent and less focused on the overall goal.
Should dispatchers be evaluated using negative feedback, efficiency and call totals? Of course, but letting these philosophies be the only criteria in defining the position will undermine the department’s effectiveness.
My favorite point that Shelton makes is “Can one learn to swim by watching someone or by reading a book? Perhaps, but without getting wet, you’ll never know what it’s like.” This means that in order for a company to be successful, those that manager dispatchers need to know exactly what it’s like by doing it. They won’t learn or understand how to fully motivate, teach, inspire, or otherwise manage a dispatch team if they have no idea what it is really like.
The Question, as Shelton puts it, is “Which service did your customer pay for?” Are they paying you for dispatching their loads, or are they paying you for your customer service abilities, which will inevitably become, empty promises.
During this downward trend in the economy, focus on what you do best. Focus your efforts on your company’s Core Goal. And strive for that goal in everything you do. It’s time to simplify processes, re-think programs, and get back to the basics of customer satisfaction.
If you didn’t catch it yet, be sure to check out Freight Tec on the cover of Internet Truckstop Magazine for the Sept/Oct 2009 Issue.
Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think by commenting below.
Freight Tec was recently featured on IT Magazine by Internet Truckstop.
“Techology is the wave of the future and those not riding it will be left in the surf paddling”
– Jeff Graves, CFO Freight Tec.
Here is the cover –
“We’re early adopters of technology. We’re always testing it, checking it out and keeping tabs on it. If it’s technology that’s going to help in any facet of the business, we’re out there and using it.”
– Steve Van Otten
Other highlights of Freight Tec and this article:
- Freight Tec is ranked in the Top 100 of all Freight Brokers nationwide – by Inc. Magazine.
- Freight Tec carries Error and Omissions Insurance and guarantees qualified carriers
- 24 years in business (since 1985) with strong Back Office Support
- Member of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (T.I.A.)
- Platinum Performance Program (P3) Member of T.I.A. & $100,000 GPP Bond
- Qualified & approved to haul Military freight
- Contracts with 21,000 different Carriers in the U.S. and Canada
- Quick-Pay Programs to keep the Carrier coming back to haul your freight
- FREE Auto-Marketing System for you to use to grow your Customer base
- Bonus / Incentive Program
Please contact us with any questions, and don’t forget to read the full article in IT Magazine.
Excellent article taken from the Journal of Commerce, Aug. 10, 2009 Issue, page 9.
Broker vs. Motor Carrier
I HAVE BEEN on both sides of transporation, and everyone brokers loads (“Brokers Ride a Rollercoaster,” www.joc.com/node/410818). It’s comedic when I hear a shipper say they don’t use brokers and only use asset-based companies. If only they knew the number of asset-based companies that are brokering loads and charging the shipper asset-based prices. It’s all one big brokerage at the end of the day. Brokering loads cannot be avoided completely unless your customer doesn’t mind their freight not moving.
On the flip side, I know for a fact some so-called asset-based companies only own three to four trucks and continue telling shipping companies they have over 10 times that amount of trucks. They tell the shipper they are indeed asset-based with several trucks to load their freight, but have every intention of brokering it all.
The worst thing about this is they demand more money for the comfort of using their trucks while really brokering every single load. I am not saying all asset-based companies do this, but beware of those few that do. I want to end by saying it doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a broker or asset-based carrier; both have their fair share of service failures, one no more than another. Heck, I get calls from asset-based companies asking for help covering their loads, and I call asset-based companies for help covering my loads.
– By batlogistics1 on 7/18/09
A MAJOR BENEFIT to using a Top 100 freight broker like Freight Tec is our intense Carrier Qualification process. With the possibility of asset-based carriers brokering loads, you’re leaving yourself open to many potential problems. You have no assurance of their qualification process and no say in WHO they actually get to haul your load. That is scary! Freight Tec qualifies each and every carrier making sure they meet the requirements for safety, insurance and quality service. Choosing a broker with such high standards, protects you and your freight.
“…Shippers, brokers, and others responsible for carrier selection must have proper protocol in place for selecting carriers and must be diligent in their efforts to properly investigate and qualify carriers. Failure to do so could lead to catastrophic events to the public and substantial financial damage to the shipper, broker, or others engaging carriers to transport freight.”
– By transportation lawyer, Justin R. Olsen
Again, Freight Tec has a stringent gualification process for EVERY carrier.