Josh Christie is the VP of Marketing & Recruiting at D&L Transport
A recent survey found that 86% of customers would pay 13% to 18% more for better service. On the flip side of that coin, 71% say that poor customer service was the reason they ended their relationship with a company. That concisely sums up the impact of customer service: loyal well-paying customers — or none!
As a Freight Agent, customer service is at the very heart of what you’re doing daily. So, you know these facts well beyond the survey statistics. After all, you’ve lived them over the years and, along the way, steadily improved your approach to serving customers, no matter the challenge they or you were facing.
This article dives deeper into the responsiveness aspect of customer service and how to leverage it to improve customer relationships and control the chaos that can often develop in any shipping process.
Responsive vs. Reactive
How often, in a highly stressful situation, before we have time to think it through, we blast out our first thought? That reaction is usually followed up almost immediately by remorse and the strong desire to hit the rewind button. Instead, we must develop an internal process of taking the time to think things through before we respond. Only then can we become genuinely responsive rather than reactive.
Responsiveness is a powerful tool. It shows you can move outside your protective shell and immediate needs. Instead, you put others first and take the time to learn and care about their situation and needs.
Once you’re consistently in thoughtful response mode, you’ll build goodwill, strengthen relationships, and cultivate trust. That approach is at the heart of excellent customer service. Furthermore, it must not be restricted to customers but needs to be how you work with everyone, especially your staff members.
Customer Service and Responsiveness
Undoubtedly, there are just as many customer service processes as organizations or, for that matter, individuals. However, the following steps outline the broad aspects of fulfilling customer service.
- Respond – Immediately. Above anything else, make contact with your customers. They have concerns and, in many cases, are in a panicked state. This frame of mind can lead to frantic thoughts and irrational decisions. Your customers want to be heard. Simply acknowledging their concerns and communicating that you’re working on a solution is a powerful tool for putting their minds at ease.
- Acknowledge Customer Problems. The customer has come to you with one or more problems that are very important to them and, no doubt, causing them considerable stress. That’s not the time to try to convince them otherwise. Instead, it would be best to listen closely and then accurately read back the challenges and problems they face. That demonstrates that you’re taking their concerns seriously, that you understand their situation, and that you care.
- Value Customer Feedback. This is also the appropriate time to let the customer know that you value their feedback, and if it’s impossible to correct things, note that you’ll do so in the future. Unfortunately, it’s proven that many customers will leave rather than take the time to provide feedback. So, welcome this opportunity to put things right or at least gain insight into what can be corrected.
- Outline the Next Steps. If there is an opportunity to correct the problem, provide the customer with an outline of the steps you’ll be taking along with the expected timeline. If you don’t have an answer or a recovery plan, let the customer know you’ll develop that plan and get back to them at a specific time and date. At that time, if you still don’t have an answer, get back to them anyway to bring them up to speed on your efforts. While not entirely satisfactory for the customer, it will at least let them know you’re still taking their concerns seriously.
- Take Action — Now. Yes, a bit of intentional redundancy to the first bullet. You must take action as quickly as possible to resolve the customer’s problem. You must also keep the customer informed all along the way. As noted above, accepting their feedback and providing them with an outline of steps to correct the problem starts the process, but regular updates on your actions are just as important.
- Follow Up — Relentlessly. This cannot be emphasized enough. Following up with the customer puts them at the center of the effort, demonstrates that you care about them and their problem, and reminds them that you’re working through the problem with your best effort.
Setting Your Customer’s Mind at Ease — Controlling the Chaos
In his book In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters provided a fascinating case study of IBM’s vaunted customer service. He pointed out that at the heart of their service were frequent customer calls to update them on their progress. It would go something like this: we’re packing up the parts, we’re loading them in the truck, we’re starting toward your place, we’re halfway there, we’re in the driveway, we’re installing the new parts, we’re testing the computer, and finally, all is back online.
Was all that dialogue necessary? Probably not. But the customer always knew someone was working to solve their problem. Of course, the problem wasn’t solved until the journey’s end, but the customer’s mind was at ease along the way. They felt that things were under control. They could also respond to their boss and customers that things were being addressed as quickly as possible.
Think about placing an order with your favorite online retailer. Not only do you like the product, but the order experience is probably one of the main reasons you’re a return shopper. Chances are, they’ve invested in an automated and detailed order status platform that keeps you informed from checkout to delivery. No need for you to pick up the phone, send an email or hop online to chat with their customer service. You know what’s going on and have peace of mind that it’s being taken care of.
It’s called ‘setting your customer’s mind at ease.’ It also serves to control the chaos of problems you’re encountering. The customer is not calling to pester you about the solution they need. They already know things are under control, even if they are not solved immediately.
Ready to Move Your Freight Agency?
At D&L Transport, we take customer service very seriously. For example, we respond to all phone calls within 60 seconds, day or night. That’s our standard for responsiveness. It also means that when you transition to our Freight Agent program, you’ll be the center of our attention.
For insight into our Freight Agent program, check out our BETTERLIFE™ with D&L video series. We talk to our Agents and select subject matter experts to help you navigate the challenging world of the Freight Agent.
Of course, we feel that our Freight Agency program is the best in the business. To see for yourself, look at our Agent Opportunities page. You can also hear directly from our successful Agents. Then, get in touch, and we can get started.
Call toll-free: 866.559.0203. Or complete the form at D&L Agent Requirements.
D&L Transport. Your Family in Freight.