9 Ways to Enhance Your Customer Relationships
The highest level of customer service is a precarious balance of communication, pricing, and trust between you and your customer. Knowing how to combine them in the best way is the tricky part. Every customer is looking for different qualities in a vendor; a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t usually work.
One path to stay in cahoots with your customers? By seeking stronger relationships — the last thing you want to do is leave the door open for competitors in line to take your place, with promises of better service and lower rates.
The topics below are things you should keep in mind, and utilize to build a strong business partnership with your customer.
Do Your Homework
When it comes to customer relationships, school is always in session. Learn about your customers. Learn even more about your prospects. Set yourself up for success by doing research on LinkedIn, company and industry websites, and other tools available to you to form a personal connection. Use those connections as the foundation of a long-term customer relationship.
When you finally build a mutually-beneficial partnership with your customer, don’t stay satisfied with the status quo. Take the initiative to anticipate their changing needs and service requirements. If you are suggesting ideas to benefit their supply chain rather than waiting to see what they ask for, you are providing value, building trust and deepening ties as you go.
Perception is Reality
You know what you want out of a business partnership, but what does your prospect or customer want? Look at quality of service from your customer’s point of view. Where do they find value? Is it affordability, reliability, visibility, communication, etc.?
When in doubt, remember the old saying: “the customer is always right”….and their perception is what keeps them doing business with you. Seek feedback, and work your tail off to provide solutions. Those solutions go the extra mile, and keep your customers engaged and to further reiterate your commitment to their success.
Help Customers Make Informed Decisions
Successful brokers and salespeople in general will patiently and respectfully give their customers the information they need to make an informed decision. Appropriate transparency and communication are the cornerstones of any solid relationship. Honesty is the best policy; if you communicate the challenges and cost of the services they are requesting, your credibility goes up and relationships are much more likely to continue long-term.
Communicate Effectively & Often
Don’t “sell” your customers during each conversation. Make the conversation just as much about getting to know them as it is about transportation business at hand. Creating some common ground and conversation will take your interactions further, and open the door to filling gaps in their supply chains.
Touch base regularly, even after you win new business. Set a schedule for checking in. The key to being a trusty resource is accessibility and accountability when customers are in need.
Watch Their Clocks, Not Yours
While certain times of your day may be the perfect time for contacting prospects and customers, being sensitive to their schedule is just as important. Does your customer always seem rushed or agitated? If so, ask them if it is a good time to talk or if they’d prefer to touch base anther day. They won’t disappear, and respecting their time will get you much further than forcing a scheduled conversation at the exact moment it’s convenient for you.
When you finally engage your contact, make sure they are actively involved in the conversation. Remember that most shippers are receiving sales calls DAILY. Hearing their frustrations, pain points, and special requirements are all ingredients in the customer service recipe.
No one enjoys repeating themselves. Keep records of discussions, facts, and figures in your CRM system, or if you’re old school, notepads and other digital tools also work! Use these records to jog your memory and to provide windows for future follow-up. Doing so will make a noticeable difference in the dynamics of future conversations for not only customers, but carriers as well when negotiating rates and capitalizing on capacity.
Diligence = Accuracy
Know in advance what your target terms are, and be prepared to negotiate wisely. Ask mutually beneficial questions to your carriers and customers, speak with confidence, and avoid multi-tasking when securing load details. Incorrect or missing information is often the culprit of delays and service failures — prevent problems before they occur!
Seek Carriers and You Shall Find Them
Load boards are for the lazy. Yes, we said it. If you search on Truckstop or DAT for trucks within a 100-150 miles of your origin and start calling, you will have more success than you think. A broker’s time is best spent being proactive and ensuring the value of your service isn’t wasted waiting for carriers to call you.
Pro Tip: NEVER tell the customer that you are going to “post their load”; doing so insinuates you don’t have a truck for the load, and your value to the customer significantly decreases.
Being on the receiving end of bad news is never fun. We get it. But as a reputable and accountable service provider, the responsibility is on you to inform customers of issues. Transportation is never going to be 100%; planning and risk mitigation is part of the top-notch customer service expected of you! What your customer values most in these situations is the safety net a qualified and reputable broker provides.
If you agree with these philosophies, we want you on our team. Take advantage of the tools available to our agents and brokers at Sunset Transportation. Your customers deserve it! Contact Meaggen Cooksey today for a conversation about how Sunset is the right size 3PL to help achieve your goals.