How forwarders address competitive threats

Failing to drive home the value that forwarders deliver is opening the door to other providers, allowing them to tempt customers away with inferior offers.

In his piece for Air Cargo News Bradley Waller of Alliance Shipping Group highlight’s five key forwarder strengths:

  • Buying power
  • Expertise
  • Network
  • Service
  • Compliance

As individuals we have the power to support these strengths by communicating our professionalism and, by association, that of the entire forwarding sector.

Aspiring to Chartered Membership and Chartered Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport demonstrate the highest standards of professional capability.

Simply listing industry strengths does very little to communicate their critical nature. They need to be inherent in all your actions and messaging, which is why you need to:

  • Consistently underline the value you deliver to customers
  • Engage with customers at the highest levels to extend trust upwards
  • Use high level engagement to understand business needs and look for solutions
  • Over time move relationship from ‘service provider’ to ‘business partner’

For many forwarders, particularly larger ones, this may mean improving communication between the teams in charge of sales, project delivery, operations and account management.

Too often, failing to deliver and communicate your commitments is a mis-match between sales, implementation and operations.

The focus is so often focused on making the sale, that we forget to communicate what has been delivered after the sale has been converted. Which means the client may be left underwhelmed and consequently negative perceptions start to grow.

Since customers will often have an established relationship with the sales rep and not the operations team, some simple marketing assets can support this sensitive transition, helping you meet a customer’s expectations and keep them for the long-term.

Remind the customer how you will add value and introduce the ops team with a welcome pack, that also confirms the details of the service they will receive, together with (when appropriate) operating procedures and service metrics that will apply.

Use customer reviews to start building a picture of the customer and introduce KPI reporting to track performance and keep value top of mind.

Your objectives after the sale should be; building value, strengthening customer trust, encouraging referrals and stimulating cross-selling opportunities.

Develop KPI reporting packs, that can be customised for each customer, with clear metrics of your performance and the key indicators driving their account.

Providing continuous evidence of the value you add, reassures the client, builds trust and will support the transformation of your relationship from service provider to trusted business partner.

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