What separates an average 3PL provider from an amazing one? Often it boils down to customer service. A company that prioritizes trust and relationships, shows extreme attention to detail and goes above and beyond to fix problems is one that you want to work with.
Unfortunately, too often companies with shipment needs feel slighted after a freight deal is brokered. If your 3PL provider is more interested in the next transaction than your en route freight, you deserve better.
But how do you find the diamonds among all the rocks? These seven questions will help you learn more about 3PL customer service at any company so you can make the right choice for you:
1. What does the website say?
Start by exploring the 3PL's website. Read the mission statement, check for case studies and look for quotes from satisfied partners. At Choptank Transport, we have an entire page that details our philosophy about why integrity yields results to give present and potential partners insight into what we value most.
2. Has the company won any awards?
A company that focuses more on brokering deals than building relationships won't likely win a whole lot of industry awards. Check the website for awards past and present. "Broker" or "partner" of the year awards speak well to the relationship you can expect with a 3PL provider.
3. What is the company's experience?
First, verify how long the company has been operating. Experience that has developed over time as the industry has evolved can be invaluable. Another great thing to check is membership to leading industry organizations and involvement in thought-leadership initiatives.
4. What is the 3PL's reputation with partners?
Word of mouth is powerful. Reach out to your professional network and see what they have to say about working with the 3PL provider. Do they feel they were treated well or have they had to cancel contracts? Would they recommend the company?
5. What is the 3PL's reputation with drivers?
If the 3PL has a positive relationship with the freight and cargo drivers that will be transporting your goods, it can result in a streamlined supply chain for you. This is particularly important considering the current driver shortage across the country.
6. How does the company approach communication?
Get to know the 3PL provider and understand their communication policies before signing a contract. How do they communicate with shippers? Ask which technologies are used to track shipments and get real-time updates on freight locations. If you have special requests, make sure they can accommodate them.
7. Who exactly will you be communicating with?
Will you be speaking with a single account rep throughout your partnership, or will you have access to a team of logistics coordinators? Synergy is an important part of business partnerships and you want to know who you'll be communicating with most often.