min read
October 25, 2016

Messaging Apps & Omni-Channel Customer Experience in Transportation & Logistics

Customer Experience

Improving customer experience by increasing reliability and staying competitive means going the extra mile to reach out to your customer base.If you're seeking to improve efficiency throughout your logistics and transportation company, SMS messaging technology offers valuable options. These innovative solutions help you provide high-quality service, reliability and transparency, while also building employee engagement. Franz Hero, senior vice president of supply chain management and logistics at SAP, articulates the need clearly: "Across today's complex global supply chains, the movement and sharing of data between logistics parties are as important as the physical movement of goods."

Messaging Efficiency is Winning Over the Transportation Industry

The value of efficient messaging cannot be overlooked, although the logistics and transportation industry has previously tended to do just that. Companies in this space have one of the lowest SMS adoption rates of any industry, with fewer than 27 percent currently using or intending to use SMS messaging. This figure indicates a significant area for competitive advantage, giving early adopters an edge and enabling them to provide a premium omnichannel customer experience. Messaging platforms yield benefits when used both internally and externally, creating full transparency throughout the organization. Here's a closer look:

Internal Benefits of SMS Messaging

Communications within a transport and logistics company are naturally complex. Improving connections throughout the transport lifecycle simplifies planning and increases the company's profitability from several angles:

Employee Engagement

This crucial metric is essential for a stable, professional workforce, but it's not the result of any one single factor. Employees need predictability and some measure of control over their work environment, as well as real-time information about schedules, inventory and equipment. They need the opportunity to excel. A chaotic or disorganized system will create ongoing stress that results in poor service delivery and burned-out workers. Conversely, streamlined internal communication enhances your employer brand, attracting high-level talent and building the financial stability that results from great worker retention. Eighty percent of the transportation and logistics companies using mobile messaging feel that it has a beneficial effect on worker satisfaction. Mobile messaging can be used to deliver rewards and recognition to workers, as well as to enhance their wellness and provide access to training opportunities.

Operational Efficiency

Your logistics and transportation company saves money through efficiency at every node. You rely on maximizing dozens of resources: making sure that pickups are timely, freight loads are full, fuel is purchased at the best prices, delays are minimized, and so on.

  • Scheduling: Scheduling in the logistics industry is complex, and profits derive from the ability to respond nimbly to a constantly changing set of data. Automated communication throughout the entire supply chain, from inventory through distribution and delivery operations, allows your company to constantly balance these factors in real time.
  • Mechanical and Engineering Issues: Messaging can send alerts on maintenance schedules for a fleet of trucks, to ensure reliable infrastructure and worker safety, and minimize the amount of downtime due to repairs. Machine-to-machine applications are a growing technology in the messaging field.
  • Internal Communication: Messaging options keep everyone on the same page in real time: System and company updates are efficiently distributed via mobile applications, as are team communications. Individual worker timesheets and employee recognition programs are also easy to implement through this channel.
  • Worker Safety Issues: Emergency alerts are one of the primary uses of SMS messaging. Route hazards, vehicle issues and safe staffing levels can all be monitored via messaging applications. Furthermore, transparent monitoring and communication reduce the incidence of every kind of adverse event, saving money through compliance and risk mitigation.

External Benefits

Transportation and logistics organizations generally adopt messaging apps in order to improve internal operations. While this does indirectly improve customer experience by increasing reliability, staying competitive means going the extra mile to reach out to your customer base. Businesses today are faced with a still-growing mobile market made up of over 4 billion mobile users. These consumers expect their devices to deliver streamlined information about their world and especially about their transactions.

Where and When?

These two questions are at the heart of your customers' experience. Whether those customers are large enterprises, small businesses or individual consumers, everyone wants to know when their shipment will be picked up, where it is right now and when it will be delivered. SMS messaging can manage all aspects of the customer experience: providing reminders, order updates, bill alerts, automated shipping notifications, as well as surveys and feedback opportunities. In the most practical and simplest use case, your company can notify customers if their shipments are on time, delayed, or delivered, thereby reducing the customer's need to make repeated inquiries. Being able to visualize and predict the arrival of a shipment allows the customer to adequately plan in advance, so their own business is made correspondingly more efficient.When your shipping customers feel that they can interact directly with the delivery infrastructure and have their inquiries responded to promptly, the customer relationship is strengthened. Great customer service builds loyalty, and this is especially important in the shipping industry because what the customer is paying for is invisible until the shipment actually shows up at its destination. Giving the customer access into what's happening in between pickup and delivery is the essence of great customer service in the shipping industry.

Benefits of 360-Degree Transparency

Freight tracking alerts offer end-to-end transparency, with drivers checking in each time the package reaches a certain location and keeping all stakeholders automatically updated. Customer confidence is strengthened, while employee time and other resources are distributed in the most effective possible configuration. Two- way conversation is key to customer retention and also to operational efficiency throughout the entire supply chain. Overall, the integration of multi-channel communication has limitless possibilities.

Gaining Deeper Customer Insight

Establishing relationships with customers allows you to better understand their choices, pain points and demographic characteristics. This knowledge can then be used to shape your spending strategy. Top-performing companies differentiate themselves by delivering excellent customer service, and knowledge of customer needs and habits is essential for developing marketing approaches. Mobile messaging is an effective channel for delivering customer surveys, to further refine and target top-notch service.

Challenges to Overcome

A few remaining concerns have slowed the adoption of mobile messaging solutions by major players in the transportation and logistics industry:

  • Global reach: With the majority of enterprise-level companies conducting business globally, the need for an affordable messaging platform that delivers service on a global level is acute.
  • Security: Companies in this space need to make sure the messaging platforms they use possess the necessary security features and protocol to ensure safe and secure messaging. Whether SMS messages are transmitted internally or externally, multi-factor authentication and one-time passwords can provide robust security features.

Justifications Needed by Transportation Companies

Before putting a mobile messaging service into place, you need to be able to justify its cost. It's important to have some indication of ROI, along with a clearly delineated payback window or a corresponding cost decrease that can cover the investment in mobile messaging.Finding the right mobile messaging vendor is essential to success. They have to provide good customer support when you have an issue or question with the system, and many transportation companies state that they look for vendors with a good case history of customer support excellence. It's also important for the vendor to provide APIs and be able to support platforms, rather than only addressing individual technologies or use case requirements. The goal is to establish a far-reaching relationship with the vendor, such that a long-term strategy will be justified.

Successful Use Cases

  • FedEx has introduced an SMS Tracking function for customers. Shippers or recipients are able to simply enter a tracking number into their mobile app, and receive text messages letting them know the status of their shipment. Customers can choose either a one-time status update or ongoing status notifications.
  • Business software provider SAP has signed with cloud-based messaging network Descartes to provide their SMS service as an option for SAP's transportation management software. This collaboration spares SAP's customers from having to locate and contract with their own individual vendor of messaging services, and provides access to a global transportation network extending into 160 countries. As global distribution channels grow increasingly complex, there's more demand for collaboration between specialized vendors to integrate and share data throughout the supply chain.
  • British messaging company CM extends its SMS messaging network around the world. Two of its customers are Tui Fly, a Belgian airline, and international sea freight carrier Samskip. Tui Fly uses the CM Telecom platform to keep its staff updated on flight scheduling changes and various delays. Since internet access can be scarce on some flight routes, they appreciate the ability to rely on SMS messaging. Samskip channels two-way communications through their CM platform, keeping everyone updated on changes in route and timing. Their workflow has improved and the messaging solution even helps them reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Soprano Design is an Australian-based global messaging company that partners with over 1000 global enterprises to supply mobile communication systems. Its custom SMS programs secure internal and external messaging options to the logistics industry, increasing efficiency and ensuring the safety of remote workers. Soprano partners with thirteen mobile network operators, offering a resale arrangement that extends into four global regions.

Mobile messaging systems are not simply a nice "add-on" for your transportation and logistics needs. Instead, these systems form a central, scalable tool with which you can increase your operational efficiency, lower your costs and strengthen relationships with your customers as well as your employees.

Centric Digital