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Optimizing Customer Service in Logistics

30.03.2022

The evolving digital-first shopping environment is demanding, and businesses increasingly struggle to meet rapid turnarounds. It’s not surprising that there’s a global feeling of paralyzation when industry leaders predict thirty-minute deliveries will become a standard expectation for shoppers.

Customer service in logistics is about meeting B2B level expectations regarding time, reliability, price, and flexibility. They are becoming increasingly important in a world where customers’ demand for fast delivery is rising.

Take Nike, the well-known athletic brand, as an example. Extended transit times and production closures in Vietnam led the shoe manufacturer to breach its contract when shipping shoes from its producer in Asia to retailers in the US. Retail stores like Sneakersnstuff AB faced delays on their Nike orders, sometimes for several months. How can businesses transport goods to the end customer if the warehouses are empty? And, without reliable delivery expectations, what’s stopping the customers from taking their business elsewhere?

Retailers, logistics providers, and shipping companies are customers to each other and they must work together to make better decisions. By planning logistics with artificial intelligence (AI), you can optimize processes and increase transparency, ultimately improving the B2B2C customer experience. Here’s how.

AI Drives Smarter Decision-making

To meet service level expectations, logistics providers need to find flexible ways to reposition assets and meet fluctuating demands in ever-decreasing timeframes. AI-driven solutions can analyze historical data in seconds, finding patterns and peaks in sales. Put this alongside aggregate demand, and you can forecast volumes and allocate resources accordingly. 

For example, you are more likely to sell a car on warmer days when people are happy to come outside and take it for a spin – especially if that car is a convertible. If you know that demand will be high several weeks in advance, you can manufacture products in preparation for peak periods and hire outsourced truckers only when you need them. This reduces the number of outsourced truckers on standby and the number of cars with lengthy waits in depots that are susceptible to damage. 

Half-empty shipping increases the costs of vans, drivers, gas, and carbon emissions through the number of repeat journeys. If couriers and logistics providers can accurately forecast their load, they can look at orders holistically to ensure they meet deliveries for multiple retailers in the region. AI helps businesses reduce the error frequency of shipments to the wrong address or incomplete orders through its ability to review vast amounts of data and highlight discrepancies. However, the data fed to the system must be up-to-date.

Having a central system with all the data held in one place means demand fluctuations, re-routes, and storage capacity, for example, will be updated in real-time. AI can then provide you with recalculations instantly and reduce the error frequency. And less errors during transportation means fewer complaints to customer services.

Customer Service in Logistics

Transparency Among Stakeholders

Unexpected circumstances do occur, even with all the AI in the world. And if they do, you must be transparent. Opening customer service in logistics and real-time notifications via central platforms or email will help customers stay informed. For instance, if a customer didn’t get their things delivered by the expected deadline, they’ll want to know: Will it arrive the next day? Why is it late?

When a change such as a reroute arises, companies with a central platform can automatically send notifications to stakeholders including the customer, improving customer service in logistics, and increasing trust and understanding across the supply chain. In addition, businesses save time sharing updates manually, and the relevant parties can begin to replan based on the current situation.

Think of any underground metro; if a section of the rail is shut off to make carriage fixtures, other carriage drivers must be immediately aware of rerouting their passengers. It’s the same for ships and cars. If they cannot pass due to a tight river, road blockage, or overfilled port, rather than idling for days, their informed drivers would choose another route. Companies can set up predicted forecasts to 12 weeks in advance, and in the case of a late delivery, AI systems can analyze data in real-time to help managers ensure their drivers are on the fastest path and automate notifications to keep their customers informed.

Supergrid logistics refers to the orchestration of global supply chains where logistics will form the entry point for local companies to access the global market. Leveraging global logistics providers will provide a new level of market transparency that enables fast and cost-efficient execution of individual and multinational supply chains.

Are you ready to meet the rising service level expectations? Read our blog to find more tips on optimizing your supply chain and improving customer service in logistics.

Acknowledgment

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The Transmetrics project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 945610.