Date: December 5, 2017
We all know that building strong, long-lasting relationships is the key to succeeding in the third-party logistics industry. But what is the best way to create such relationships? We’ve found that your best bet is to focus on serving the people who actually matter most to your organization: your customers’ customer.
As a 3PL warehouse, you’re responsible for serving multiple levels of customers. There are your actual clients. These are the folks who pay for the fulfilment and logistical services you provide for them. Let’s call them your “first-level” customers.
But then there are also your customers’ customers. These are the people who pay your clients for goods you subsequently fulfill. Let’s call them your “second-level” customers. In many ways, satisfying these second-level customers is actually more important.
The logic behind this is simple. Second-level customers keep your clients in business. If you make second-level customers happy – then they will buy more, remain loyal, and enable your first-level customers to earn more money. This will ultimately result in more business, higher profits – and stronger, longer-term clients for your 3PL, as well.
Fortunately, 3PLs have multiple opportunities to delight second-level customers throughout the fulfillment process. In fact, in some cases, and particularly with eCommerce clients, your 3PL will actually have far more personal interaction with second-level customers than your first-level customers ever will.
Indeed, many second-level customers either do not distinguish – or aren’t even aware – that you and your first-level customers are not even the same company. In their minds you are one in the same. And your 3PL should feel the same way, too.
So how can a 3PL warehouse better serve their customers’ customers? Here are at least six opportunities:
Your 3PL should work closely with your customers to ensure their sites can provide product information via desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.
This should be as important to you as it is to your first-level customer. Help them test, optimize, and improve their systems. Provide your insight and make suggestions to increase customer satisfaction. The more second-level customers can see, the more they can order. Remember, all of these factors are in your best interest, as well.
While you want to please your first-level customer by presenting their brand properly, you want to delight your second level customer, as well.
Remember, there is an actual human receiving that package, so you’ll want to ensure your fulfillment team gives every package the care and attention it deserves.
Forging seamless integrations between your WMS and your delivery partners’ tracking systems will pay huge dividends in the long run.
Today’s second-level customers expect you to know exactly where their delivery is – in real-time, at any minute. The ability to provide this information will increase peace of mind, trust, and drive future sales.
Lost or misrouted packages may be a reality in the 3PL world – but they are simply unacceptable to many of today’s second-level consumers.
Strong relationships with delivery partners help your issues rise to the top, which is a critical advantage, particularly during the ultra-busy holiday season.
As it is yet another opportunity to delight your second-level customers, your return operations should be considered just as important as your original product fulfillment.
Every additional customer touch should be seen as yet another opportunity to help make them feel happier, valued, and well taken care of.
It’s true that customers only tend to call when they have a complaint. And, given the rise of social media, there is the chance that they could make their dissatisfaction public.
The good news is that, with the proper response, a customer complaint call can actually help you strengthen brand loyalty. To do so, your customer service team should see every complaint call as an opportunity, ensure that the customer feels that their issues are “heard,” and do absolutely everything they can to resolve any issue in a positive a way.
It is also highly recommended that your reps follow up via phone or email to ensure the customer is happy – even if the issue was resolved to their satisfaction.
In the highly competitive world of warehousing, your customers have many competitors from which to choose. But ultimately, 3PLs who gain a reputation for helping their clients delight their own customers will stand out as the best option available on the market.
To learn more about how your 3PL can delight its customers’ customers, we invite you to download our white paper "Three Keys to Retaining Your 3PL Clients".
3PL Central provides cloud-based WMS solutions for 3PLs so they can transform paper-based, error-prone businesses into service leaders focused on customer satisfaction, efficient operations, and growth.