eCommerce: How Online Freight Rates Can Improve Customer ServiceWritten by Neal Willis
Not only do you increase your chances of making a sale when customers can see the cost of shipping, but making freight rates and carrier information available to your customers for heavy items sold online also yields the added benefit of a consolidated database of historical shipment information. Rather than having to go to multiple carriers and/or sources to obtain records, this centralized data source makes retrieving shipment information faster and easier. From freight charges to the proof of delivery, all order information can be made available in one place, which speeds response time and increases the efficiency and quality of your internal customer service staff.
With freight rates tied in with your ecommerce platform, your customers gain visibility of their shipments from the time they place their order, which allows them to proactively track and monitor their own shipments without having to call you for information. Calls and emails to your customer service department for tracking shipments and quoting freight will be drastically reduced. If they do receive an inquiry about a particular order or shipment, as long as it’s tied to a reference number, then your customer service staff can instantaneously retrieve the information your customer is requesting, such as a copy of a delivery receipt or a bill of lading. Should a shipment need to be reconsigned, your customer service staff will already have the order information when a request is made, which is especially beneficial when time is of the essence. The process can even be automated with a hosted web portal where customers can go online and retrieve the information themselves.
An added benefit of freight rate integration is the ability to automate the process of matching rate quotes with freight invoices to ensure billing accuracy, otherwise known as freight bill reconciliation. By requiring that a reference number be entered for online orders, you will be able to tie individual shipments to specific orders. Rather than sifting through pro numbers, purchase orders and freight invoices when trying to match rate quotes to freight bills, the system can automatically match corresponding amounts through the reference number associated with an order and flag any discrepancies it finds, which helps shippers spot billing inconsistencies and other potential issues before they become a major problem.
For example, when a freight bill comes in with a higher cost than expected because of a limited access charge not indicated by your customer at checkout, you will automatically be alerted to the fact that there is a discrepancy. Perhaps the customer didn’t know it was subject to the charge, or maybe they tried to avoid paying it and were hoping you wouldn’t bill them for it after the fact. Either way, you will easily catch the issue and be able to address it before it gets out of hand.
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