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20-01-2020

Customer Portal: Your Ideal Weapon on Freight Battleground

It is said that customer experience is the competitive battleground for all kinds of businesses. Delivering excellent customer experience not only allows businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors but also increases customer loyalty and generates more revenue.

A satisfied customer is more likely to continue purchasing products or services of the current vendors. Moreover, satisfied customers are inclined to recommend their vendors to their family and friends, resulting in more revenue for the vendors. But as a freight forwarder, what do you do?

For freight forwarders, offering excellent customer services is certainly of critical importance to the growth of their businesses. However, this is certainly not easy for freight forwarders without the help of a Customer Portal.

A shipper books a shipment with you. As you process the shipment, your customer sends you an email or calls you to ask about some shipment-related information, such as ETD, ETA, final ETA, POL, POD, and others. You will have to pause your tasks at hand, look for the requested information, return the call or email, and then finally resume your work. A few minutes later, another shipper calls you to do the same thing. Sounds quite exhausting, doesn’t it?

B2B customers now expect B2C-like customer experience as the quality of customer service continues to improve in the B2C sector. The old-fashioned calling and emailing in the freight industry might not be able to keep up with the trend. Nowadays, customers simply have to log in to customer portals to access all the information they need.

On the freight battleground of customer experience, Customer Portal is certainly the ideal weapon. However, one must familiarize oneself with the weapon before wielding it. In this post, we will be discussing a few points about Customer Portal of freight software:

What is Customer Portal in freight software?

Mac showing customer portal or digital information desk

In freight forwarding software, customers of freight forwarders can log in to the customer portal to access shipment-related information and even download some important files, such as arrival notice, ISF confirmation, and entry summary. Moreover, they can easily communicate with freight forwarders using the in-app messenger instead of emails or phone calls.

How do freight forwarders and their customers benefit from having a customer portal?

Wordcloud showing benefits of using customer portal

Customer portals help freight forwarders and their customers in a few ways.

For customers:

  1. Faster communication and information-sharing Compared to phone calls and emails, communicating through customer portal messenger is certainly faster as freight forwarders certainly spend a huge amount of time on using their system rather than checking their inboxes or phones. Moreover, all the information shown in the customer portal is synchronized with that in the freight software, enabling faster information-sharing.
  2. More Autonomy Customers now expect a certain level of self-serving capability. They expect to be capable of getting answers or even accomplishing some tasks without relying on others since this certainly saves much time and avoid unnecessary contacts for them. These can all be realized with the help of Customer Portal.

For forwarders:

  1. Better customer retention rates and increased profit As customers are more satisfied, they are less likely to look for alternatives. Furthermore, retaining existing customers is much cheaper and easier than acquiring new ones. As a matter of fact, retaining existing customers might also facilitate customer acquisition since they might refer your freight businesses to their friends or relatives. Eventually, forwarders’ profits will also increase as a result of more satisfied customers.
  2. Smoother workflow The workflow of freight forwarders might be interrupted as customers unexpectedly inquire about their shipment. Even though this is part of the job description, this still slows down work efficiency of freight forwarders. Providing a customer portal is equivalent to offering another information channel. Customers will be less likely to contact freight forwarders or have fewer questions as they already have access to their shipment information. As a result, freight forwarders can spend more time dealing with their tasks at hand.

What are the next big things in Freight Customer Portal?

Future trend of customer portal

In the future, Customer Portal will definitely transcend its mere state of a digital information desk and provide the following features:

  1. Shipment visibility As consumers expect to know where their parcels are when they purchase products on Amazon, so do shippers. However, a lot of the customer portals of freight forwarding software do not show real-time shipment information. Shipment information shown in customer portal is usually manually updated by freight forwarders. Moreover, freight forwarders are not always available to answer their customers’ inquiry and their customers might not be patient enough to wait for their manual updates.

    Certainly, real-time shipment information will also be shown in the customer portal as the B2C parcel tracking system does. Having access to real-time information will certainly help shippers, importers, or exporters to adjust their plans accordingly.

  2. Instant quotation Getting a freight quote is not a simple process. Freight forwarders must take several variables, such as freight class, weight, distance, and others, into account to provide freight quotes. Normally, it takes hours or even days for forwarders or carriers to provide freight quotes, which seems to be a bit sluggish in other industries.

    Similar to hotel booking websites like Agoda and booking.com, customer portals of freight system will be able to instantly provide freight quotes based on the variables selected by the customers without the involvement of freight forwarders.
  3. Online booking Online booking has become the norm as people can complete countless tasks online. Freight forwarders have started providing online booking through customer portal so that shippers can simply book their shipments without calling or emailing freight forwarders. This does not only allow shippers to book their shipments anywhere and anytime but also eliminates several steps of offline communication and documentation.

Better experience for both shippers and freight forwarders

As the competitive edges between freight forwarders continue to fade, it often comes down to which one can provide better customer service. Freight forwarders must understand the significance of digitalization and utilize customer portal to gain an advantage in the digital era. Freight Management Software is THE component in becoming a digital freight forwarder. If you’re interested in becoming a digital freight forwarder, learn how you can start digital transformation or let us take you through.

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