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Customer-centric strategies for freight forwarders

Created on | Last updated on October 20, 2023 at 03:05 pm

Building customer-centric strategies for freight forwarders is so important to ensure your client’s success.

It’s not a secret to any forwarder worldwide that the forwarding industry is quite complex and full of high stakes, however, your customer success shouldn’t be one of them.

Your freight clients have to be at the center of your company, they need to be your main priority in order to succeed.

First things first…

For years many freight forwarders didn’t worry about how their clients felt regarding the services delivered. 

Gladly forwarders are starting to understand the importance of keeping their customers at the center of their business and how this helps them to improve their freight companies.

Some freight forwarders are already managing to reduce those problems by using technology and customer-centric strategies as an ally to improve the business.

Maintaining success in a freight forwarding company for the coming years depends on retaining a customer-centric mindset.

However, before you start developing customer-centric strategies, there are a few important concepts that you must be aware of:

Customer Experience

The customer experience (CX) is the set of actions taken to improve and optimize interactions between consumers and companies throughout the phases of the relationship process: before, during, and after sales.

The customer experience must occur during the whole process, it can never stop.

The reason is really simple, once your freight partners feel happy with the services you are providing the more chances there are for them to come back, and to recommend your freight forwarder to others. 

A positive customer experience enables your forwarder business to grow, but one bad experience can take down your company in a matter of seconds. 

As Warren Buffet states, “(…) it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.

Customer Success

Customer success is all about understanding your customers’ needs, helping them achieve their goals, and making sure they have a positive experience when using your forwarding services. 

It goes beyond just delivering goods from one place to another. It’s about building strong, long-term relationships with your customers.

Customer success is about putting your customers at the center of your business and working to ensure they have a great experience with your forwarding services.

It’s a win-win approach where happy customers lead to a successful freight forwarding business.

Customer Service

Customer service is the assistance and support you provide to your customers during their interactions with your freight company.

It’s about addressing their immediate needs and questions. However, customer service is more than solving a customer’s problems.

Today, customer service means delivering proactive and immediate support to customers anytime on the channel of their choice — phone, email, text, chat, and more.

Let’s simplify it

Customer Experience (CX): This is how your customers feel about your freight service overall. It’s like how much they enjoy using your service from start to finish.

Customer Success: This is about helping your customers succeed in their shipping needs and making sure they are happy with your service over a longer time, not just for one shipment. It’s like being their helpful partner.

Customer Service: This is the help you give customers when they have a problem or question, like answering their calls or emails and fixing issues.

So, customer experience is about how they feel, customer service is about fixing problems, and customer success is about helping them succeed over time.

Why focus on freight forwarder customer success?

Focusing on customer success in the freight forwarding industry is a win-win strategy. 

It benefits your customers by helping them achieve their shipping goals, and it benefits your business by driving customer retention, growth, and a positive reputation in the industry.

Here are some of the reasons why you should invest in customer success:

Building long-term relationships

Customer success helps you build strong, long-lasting relationships with your clients.

Satisfied customers are more likely to continue using your services and remain loyal to your company.

Competitive advantage

Providing exceptional customer success sets you apart from competitors. 

When customers know you’re dedicated to their success, they’re more likely to choose your services over others.

Positive brand reputation

A reputation for excellent customer success can enhance your brand image and make your company more attractive to potential clients.

Increased referrals

Happy customers are more likely to refer your freight forwarding services to others.

Word-of-mouth referrals can significantly boost your business and attract new clients.

Business growth

Satisfied customers may expand their business with you, increasing the volume of shipments and revenue for your company.

Feedback and improvement 

Customer success initiatives provide valuable feedback that can help you make improvements in your services. 

This continuous improvement can lead to better overall service quality.

Risk mitigation

By understanding your customers’ specific needs and challenges, you can proactively address potential issues, reducing risks and disruptions in your operations.

How to apply customer success in my forwarder company?

Applying customer success in your freight forwarding company involves a strategic approach that prioritizes your customers’ long-term satisfaction and success. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to implement customer-centric strategies for freight forwarders:

  1. Understand your customers:

Get to know your customers’ businesses, industries, and specific shipping needs.

Create customer profiles and segments to tailor your services to their unique requirements.

  1. Proactive communication:

Maintain regular and proactive communication with your customers, even when there are no immediate issues.

Share updates on their shipments, industry trends, or relevant information.

  1. Gather customer feedback:

Collect feedback from customers through surveys, interviews, or feedback forms.

Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and meet their expectations.

  1. Relationship building:

Foster strong, long-lasting relationships with your customers based on trust and mutual success.

  1. Problem resolution:

When issues arise, address them promptly and professionally. Find solutions quickly and communicate progress to the customer.

  1. Continuous improvement:

Use customer feedback and performance data to continually improve your services.

Adapt to changing customer needs and market trends.

  1. Customer success team:

Consider establishing a dedicated customer success team or roles to focus on customer-centric strategies.

Here is a guide we prepared for you to learn how to build your forwarder customer’s success journey, click here to access it.

To learn more about freight forwarder customer success watch the video below:

Now that you know how to implement customer success in your company, let’s explore the customer-centric strategies for freight forwarders further:

How to build a customer-centric strategy in your freight forwarder company?

Building customer-centric strategies for freight forwarders involves prioritizing the needs and preferences of your customers throughout every aspect of your business. 

As we have mentioned before, bringing a customer experience to the center of your freight forwarder company is the main key to success. 

In order to establish this kind of strategy, technology must be your number one ally.

Bring data to your day-to-day work

If you continue to keep the data of your forwarder partners in your mind you will never be able to improve your forwarder company and understand your customer’s needs. 

Rate with qualified carriers

Once you start establishing good partnerships the pricing job will get a lot faster and easier. 

The ideal is to have at least three partners in each country your forwarder works with and prioritize them for quotations. 

To keep track of all this information a management tool will make the process easier. Parnity’s management tool can help you with that! 

Automate your forwarder process

If you are still working with spreadsheets to automate your processes you are going to keep wasting time. 

With a tool to help you automate the process of your freight forwarder, you can save almost half of the time of your teamwork and avoid errors.

Think about your partner’s priority, not yours

It’s common to think that your forwarder’s priorities are more important than your client’s, but that is not the right mindset to grow your business. 

Using a CRM tool the chances of retaining forwarder partners are much better.

What happens after the sales process?

Many forwarders think that the sales process ends when the client signs the deal, which is a big mistake. 

Once you have that kind of mindset you can lose around 75% of new partners within the first week.

Along with that, almost 40 to 60% of partners that have hired your services will not hire them again, that is the moment you need to start worrying about your forwarder partners’ retention.

How to increase your forwarder partners retention

Customer retention is the result of delivering a positive customer experience, providing exceptional customer service, and actively working to ensure customer success. 

All these elements are interconnected, and when executed well, they collectively contribute to retaining customers and building long-lasting, profitable relationships. 

A satisfied customer who has a good experience receives top-notch service, and achieves success is more likely to remain loyal to your business.

Increasing partner retention in your forwarding business is essential for long-term success.

One of the ways to increase your freight partners’ retention is through an onboarding process.

Setting an onboarding process inside your company can let your clients know how your forwarder operates, and make them feel embraced.

What is customer onboarding?

The customer onboarding process is defined by all activities involved in introducing your company’s service. 

The main goal of this process is to inform your new partner step by step how to successfully use all services you offer so they can get the most out of them. 

It’s about making their experience as good as possible.

Customer onboarding refers to the process of gradually and effectively showing the customer everything you have to offer

The onboarding process can impact positively or negatively on the customer journey inside your freight forwarder company. 

It’s up to you to make your partner’s experience successful.

When should the onboarding process begin?

After your sales team closes a new partnership, that is the best moment to start your onboarding process. 

Usually, big freight forwarder companies have a team designed to do the onboarding process of each new partner. 

Small forwarders can also have a structure of the onboarding process and that can be taken care of by the sales team. 

In fact, the onboarding process is a vital part of customer service and customer experience.

The whole concept of onboarding is about bringing the customer “on board”. 

It’s about understanding your partners and their needs rather than just providing them with all the information about your services.

In case you want to know more about how the onboarding process works in a practical way watch our conversation with Jemma Cross and Matthew Gardiner.

Now it’s up to you!

In a rapidly evolving industry like freight forwarding, embracing customer-centric strategies is not just a choice; it’s a necessity. 

As this blog has highlighted, by putting customers at the heart of your operations and consistently exceeding their expectations through tailored solutions, transparent communication, and proactive support, forwarders can build enduring relationships, drive business growth, and stay ahead of the competition.

In a world where customer satisfaction is paramount, the journey toward becoming a customer-centric freight forwarder is a journey toward long-term success, solidifying your reputation as a trusted partner in the industry.