Digital Ecosystems: Focus On The Customer
Updated: May 11, 2020
The second part of this blog explores how Intelligent Automation liberates teams from repetitive tasks to focus on customers’ needs and business innovation.
It’s a simple premise: Deliver a responsive and rewarding customer experience, and your customers are more likely to remain loyal, ultimately inspiring business growth. For freight, transport and logistics (FTL) organisations, that experience demands new thinking – the delivery of a seamless shipping experience across all channels, the innovation of new, compelling services that catch your competitors off-guard, and a rapid response to service enquiries.
Here’s the problem. Your teams are so caught up in the everyday, they don’t have the time or resources to focus on tomorrow’s customer experience. Back-office staff and customer service representatives, for example, are busy manually entering and re-keying data for primary business activities. Quoting, scheduling and tracking shipments, securing proof of delivery, generating and collecting invoices, and closing out loads are handled by teams of people executing repetitive operations.
Your Finance department faces a similar challenge. It would like to innovate new customer-centric systems, such as real-time billing insight or one-step order-to-pay. However, teams are trapped performing mundane, repetitive finance tasks like transactions processing and year-end close. Your talent doesn’t have the bandwidth to deliver the finance function of the future.
Now is the time for change. With competition in the FTL sector driving margins down, organisations can’t afford to lower prices any further. They need to find better ways to win new business and retain key accounts. Moreover, as FTL customers become ever-more sophisticated and demanding, it becomes imperative to shift from simple process improvement to customer-focused logistics.
Satisfying more customers across the supply chain
By automating repetitive, mundane tasks, Intelligent Automation compounds productivity gains across thousands of FTL transactions for greater capacity and agility. Customers, partners and vendors all along the supply chain can be served faster and better.
So, what is Intelligent Automation? It is a new form of automation that draws on breakthrough technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic processing and data analytics to remove the manual and repetitive, so teams are free to focus on the customer and innovation. Intelligent Automation also eliminates complexity so the business is back in control.
This Intelligent Automation benefits FTL providers in two ways.
First, there’s the obvious one. Automation liberates staff from manual, time-intensive tasks to concentrate on customers’ needs. They can focus on agile service delivery, proactive sales and service support, and personalised service experiences. All of which leans towards increased customer satisfaction.
Technology buyers and decision-makers recognise that Intelligent Automation empowers employees to work on more productive activities. When thinking about this technology strategically, it becomes clear that the ultimate purpose is to improve customer experience.
Second, automation frees staff to focus on innovation. They are liberated to explore and experiment new ideas, no longer immersed in repetitive data processing. And where best to begin looking for those innovative new ideas? In automation, of course!
Take these three use cases, for example. Intelligent Automation can act as a digital workforce alongside the human one, picking up the mundane tasks, executing them more accurately and, in many cases, reducing the time required from hours to seconds. Smart bots can extract shipment details from incoming emails requesting pick-ups, log the jobs in your scheduling system, deliver pick-up times to customer and carrier portals, track GPS-enabled vehicle locations, and keep everyone informed of status.
These bots can also support trade finance, interfacing with customers’ freight bill payment portals, generating invoices, and monitoring past-due accounts. The bots can also help capture and close-out loads, pulling PRO numbers, proof of delivery, bill of lading and carrier invoices from providers’ systems and coping them to your systems.
Intelligent Automation in action
The forward-thinking international freight forwarding company Davies Turner already uses Intelligent Automation to streamline order and inventory tracking. Customers have newfound insight into their stock and shipments, and operations teams are empowered with lightning-fast access to the information they need to respond faster to customer queries. Using Intelligent Automation, Davies Turner is now tracking 100% of shipments with the same number of staff it had previously.
The FTL industry has work to do though. Research shows that 76% of FTL providers have not yet automated key customer facing processes, like shipment and scheduling, rate look-ups, order tracking and invoicing.
With organisations set to spend more than $230 billion globally on Intelligent Automation technologies by 2025, forward-thinking FTL organisations need to seize the opportunity today to transform their customer experience.