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Tracking and Updating: Don’t Lose Your Customer Because Of a Bad Experience 

Don’t Let Inefficiency Eat Your Bottom Line: 8 Areas to Improve Your Freight Brokerage

Area of Improvement #4: Track and Trace

Balancing exceptional customer service with the relentless drive for sales in the freight brokerage industry can be challenging. On one hand, providing top-notch customer service requires time and attention to detail. Brokers must build strong relationships with both shippers and carriers, ensuring that every load is handled with care, all inquiries are promptly addressed, and any issues are resolved quickly. This commitment to service fosters trust and loyalty, which are crucial for long-term business success.

However, the time invested in delivering this level of service can come at a cost. Brokers often find themselves stretched thin, as the hours spent on customer service tasks can limit the time to pursue new sales opportunities. This can create a significant dilemma in a competitive market, where growth and profitability are driven by both repeat business and increasing sales. It’s a classic catch-22. 

Excellent customer service is imperative. A good working partnership starts with an efficient and consistent tracking and communication process that doesn’t waste anyone’s time, resources, and budget. That’s why we suggest that freight brokers take the time now, while the market is down, to thoroughly evaluate how their reps manage these two essential customer service tasks: 

  • Tracking and tracing loads
  • Updating customers on load locations/status

Now is the time to implement efficient procedures and technology to streamline tracking and communication tasks, freeing up more time for other activities. Your team may also benefit from clear prioritization, delegating certain tasks, and ensuring they are well-trained and equipped to handle customer service and sales responsibilities effectively. Finding the right balance gives you a competitive edge in the freight industry.

The Eight Areas of Improvement

Tracking loads and updating clients are the 4th and 5th of eight (8) common areas of improvement in the freight broker process. How your team handles these tasks can lead to daily performance inefficiencies and create pain points for your customers, leading to wasted time and budget and lost revenue. 

To read more about the Areas of Improvement, download our eBook, Don’t Let Inefficiency Eat Your Bottom Line: 8 Areas to Improve Your Freight Brokerage, here [LINK].

This blog will focus on how you can evaluate your process for tracking loads and updating customers. 

Evaluating the Tracking and Communication Process

When appraising these tasks, there are several crucial questions to ask yourself and your team. The answers to these questions help you know where to focus on enhancing and scaling these tasks so that no customers or loads fall through the cracks. The questions fall into four categories: process, time, tools, and improvements. 

This exercise aims to uncover bottlenecks and inefficiencies getting in the way of your team’s ability to track loads and communicate with customers quickly and accurately. Remember, these tasks are critical to building customer satisfaction and winning loyal customers. Let’s start by taking a deep dive into your tracking process. 

Your Track and Trace Process

To review your current procedures, map out your team’s current workflow. A good rep will establish a regular communication schedule with each carrier. Note if they are making manual phone calls to check on loads or using tracking tools from carriers or in-house tools. 

Ask each rep how many tracking calls they make during the day. Measure how long it takes for carriers to return calls and how long it takes for your brokers to record the information. Find out if everyone on the team is using this process or if every team member has their method.

In addition, check on the accuracy and timeliness of your tracking tools. Look for instances where your reps needed to follow up with individual drivers because of inaccurate information. Measure how much time and resources these extra steps take. Ask your reps if they record tracking information in a centralized dashboard or TMS so everyone can access it. If not, ask if they have a procedure for finding the information or if they have to start all over. 

Time is money. Tracking loads is an essential customer service, but it should not be a wasteful labor expense. It might be time to find a more automated way to track loads. 

Automating Your Tracking Process

Once you’ve mapped out your current workflow, search for ways to leverage technology for your workflow. Some carriers have tracking apps that your team can connect to through an integration with your TMS or a downloadable mobile app. These carrier-friendly mobile apps provide real-time access to a shipment’s location information from when it leaves the shipper’s loading dock until it reaches its drop-off point. Some brokers only work with carriers who utilize a particular tracking app.

Load tracking software is available for brokers that provide high-quality data and integrations to carrier systems via their TMS. Choose a platform that offers real-time tracking across different modes of transportation. Ideally, you’re looking for both precise location data and predictive ETAs. Keep in mind that you want to settle on a method that saves you money and time now and will scale as your business grows.

Once again, all the information gathered from these systems should be integrated into a centralized TMS or dashboard. This would make relaying this important information to customers quick and easy and offer historical data that may inform strategic decision-making in the future. 

Aside from a tracking tool, your TMS may have a texting feature to track loads by communicating with drivers. This small automation may save time by eliminating the phone tag game. Let’s look at your process for communicating this tracking information to your clients. 

Evaluating Your Updating Process

As you study the track-and-trace step, keep in mind that your brokers must relay the information to the customer. Your customers expect consistent, timely, and accurate updates. Communication is key, especially when delays, logistical challenges, and obstacles slow down shipments. Customers want to know this information as soon as possible. Providing real-time updates helps increase your business value to your customers.

Measure the time and tools your team uses to get the job done. Are you manually calling each client multiple times a day to give them updates? Are they leaving voice messages or calling until they talk to a person? Ask if your team is recording these conversations and messages in TMS. Track how often customers miss or don’t receive updated information. 

Optimizing the Updating Task

Sometimes, optimization involves listening to your customers. Some customers prefer to be texted or emailed. Take advantage of that. It will enhance their satisfaction with your team and reduce the time your reps spend on the phone. 

Regarding automation, some TMS platforms will send updates to customers in batches as tracking information flows into the system. If this is available to you, it will save your reps time and energy updating individual clients multiple times a day. That time and energy could be spent on business development and other revenue-generating activities. 

Your Next Steps

Achieving a balance between exceptional customer service and the relentless drive for sales is challenging but essential. While providing top-notch customer service nurtures trust and loyalty, it can also make it challenging for your reps to deliver new business. This classic catch-22 requires strategic action.

By thoroughly evaluating how your reps manage customer service tasks like tracking and tracing loads and updating customers on load locations and status, you can identify and address inefficiencies eating at your margins.

As you optimize these processes, remember that excellent customer service and practical sales efforts are not mutually exclusive. When you prioritize both, you can sustain long-term growth and maintain a competitive edge in the freight brokerage industry.

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