Proactive Strategies to Master Peak Season
If you are setting a goal to master peak season this year, you need proactive strategies to achieve preparedness, adaptability, scalability, and operational dexterity. With unpredictable rates, higher volumes, capacity volatility, increased customer support requests, and potential weather delays, businesses must be prepared to scale up staff, implement continuity plans, and anticipate customer concerns.
Although 2023 had a slow start, according to industry projections, shipping demands are expected to rise this peak season. These rises exacerbate the continued importance of preparedness and efficiency.
To help you get started, FPI has outlined three overarching strategies, key objectives for each strategy, and expert tips to help you achieve them.
Strategy: Achieve a reliable business continuity model that facilitates growth
Inclement weather, technology failures, supply chain bottlenecks, or labor shortages can significantly impact operations during and post-peak season. Don’t let potential disruptions stop you from seizing opportunities.
Objective: Maintain a Modern and Secure Tech Stack
The backbone of your operation lies in your software and systems that support Administration, Finance, Operations, and IT. Ensure that these tools are integrated effectively, fully interoperable, and impenetrable. Data capture and transmission methods must be equipped to handle the intensified transaction volume that accompanies peak season. Conduct rigorous scalability testing to ensure the seamless functionality of your software even under high loads, and educate your team for maximum tool adoption.
Objective: Streamline Data Management
The surge in data during peak season calls for streamlined data management processes. Efficient data entry methods, eliminating redundant steps, and embracing automation are paramount. Prioritize quality, speed, and productivity. By optimizing data handling, you expedite freight bill of lading processes and significantly minimize the risk of errors that can arise from a high volume of data.
Expert Tip: To achieve a healthy, sustainable, and revenue-generating back office, read Transforming Freight Billing: Key Factors for Efficiency and Profitability.
Objective: Be Prepared for Potential Disruptions
Peak season exposes businesses to increased risks of disruptions ranging from weather-related delays to labor shortages and technical glitches. Crafting comprehensive contingency plans is a prudent strategy. These plans should meticulously outline steps to mitigate various disruptions, ensuring that your business is equipped to navigate unexpected challenges swiftly. The presence of well-defined plans minimizes downtime and preserves the continuity of your operations.
Objective: Be Ready for Increased Calls and Delays
As customer inquiries and potential delays surge during peak season, proactive preparation for managing these aspects becomes vital. Enhance your customer service strategies to accommodate the heightened demands. Offer multiple communication channels, implement preemptive notifications about potential delays, and empower customers with real-time tracking tools. These measures help manage customer expectations and significantly reduce the strain on your support teams.
Expert Tip: Thinking about offering 24/7 customer service? Read 24/7 Logistics Customer Support: Necessity or Nice to Have?
Strategy: To meet demands, companies must have a strategic workforce that can scale up and down appropriately and with agility
Objective: Cross-Train Employees
Foster cross-training among your employees, providing them with versatile skills. This enables them to step into various roles, alleviating pressure on individual departments as they seamlessly cover for colleagues. This approach not only enhances operational flexibility but also bolsters teamwork and efficiency across the organization, ultimately resulting in a more agile and resilient workforce capable of easily navigating the demands of peak season.
Expert Tip: FreightWaves' Market Analyst Zach Strickland sat down with DDC's SVP of Client Experience, Donna Kintop, for insight into how companies can optimize their staff operations in preparation for peak season. Read the article and watch the video Peak Season & Workforce Planning: A Tactical Approach.
Objective: Secure Operational Partner for Alternative Workforce (“AWF”) or Staff On-demand
Collaborating with an external operational partner or business process outsourcing (BPO) partner will arm you with supplementary assistance in peak periods, particularly for functions like data entry, rate auditing, or inbound customer support requests.
Seek providers with industry expertise and strong customer service capabilities, ensuring they align with your needs. By entrusting specialized tasks outside of your core business to a professional and reputable third party, you can optimize your operation's efficiency and scalability, navigating the intricacies of peak season with the assurance of reliable expertise and resources at your disposal.
Expert Tip: Conduct due diligence. See these key considerations when searching for a strategic business process outsourcing partner. Read 5 Essential Components of Customer Service in Freight and Logistics.
Strategy: Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience.
With an influx of orders and inquiries during the peak season, managing customer expectations effectively is crucial for successful and positive outcomes.
Objective: Offer Multi-Channel Customer Support
As the volume of shipments increases, so does the likelihood of customer inquiries. To accommodate this surge in communication, offer a range of customer support channels, including 24/7 customer support through phone lines, emails, and live chat. Ensuring your customer support team is well-versed in promptly addressing billing-related queries can significantly enhance customer satisfaction.
Objective: Leverage Real-Time Monitoring for Adaptability
Continuous monitoring of the performance of your freight billing operation during peak season is a must. Analyze key metrics such as processing times, error rates, and customer satisfaction to gain insights into potential bottlenecks. With this data, you can make real-time adjustments to optimize efficiency, ensuring your operation remains nimble and responsive.
Expert Tip: Pattern extraction helps to make sense of freight bill data and use it to measure customer satisfaction and identify strategic business goals. Read How To Convert Freight Bill Data Into Business Intelligence.
Objective: Provide Preemptive Notifications
Take the initiative to inform your customers promptly and proactively about potential delays or issues affecting their shipments. By maintaining a transparent communication policy, you establish a foundation of trust and credibility, which not only reassures customers but also contributes to reducing their frustration and anxiety levels. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to their satisfaction and helps to forge stronger relationships, setting you apart as a reliable partner in their shipping journey.
Expert Tip: The CX encompasses each touchpoint between you and your end-users, from the first time that individual sees your logo to their tenth transaction with you. Read How to Optimize Your Customer Experience (CX) Via Your Back Office.
As the transportation industry gears up for the 2023 peak season, being proactive in your approach to processing bills of lading and fulfilling customer support will be crucial for continued success. By preparing for challenges, scaling up staff when necessary, implementing business continuity plans, and proactively addressing customer needs, you can navigate the peak season effortlessly.
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