How To Communicate Shipping Delays To Your Customers

September 20, 2021

As a 3PL or freight broker, you work your hardest to avoid delays. Still, s*** happens. Here's how to best communicate this with customers.


As a service-oriented business, the reputation of your 3PL or freight brokerage depends on establishing a high level of reliability, speed and communication with your customers when it comes to moving their freight orders. A major source of anxiety can be maintaining that exceptional customer experience in the face of shipping delays or unexpected obstacles in the shipping process.

Since 90% of the time it's not possible to get the freight moved faster, it's important for your business to create a handbook of strategies to help customers understand the reasoning for delays, answer their questions accurately on time, and maintain high customer satisfaction. We'ved gathered a number of proven strategies for doing just this so you can implement them in your 3PL business as fall/winter business picks up moving into October.

1 | Create Open Communication Channels Online

In today's digital environment, customers expect information - particularly on delays and order exceptions - to be available online. Instead of relying on just phone calls and emails, which can be slow, implementing a communication channel for delays online, like a customer portal, improve the customer experience.

For example - Ultimate Expedite - a 3PL specialized in moving fresh and frozen foods offers their customers an online customer portal with real-time track and trace as an online communication channel. This creates added value and a greater sense of security for their customers on top of the phone and email support they provide.

Ultimate Expedite offers their customers an online customer portal to monitor order status and receive alerts on delays

2 | Use Emails To Communicate Changes Proactively

Another solution to creating open communication channels is to provide timely and consistent email updates to customers with the same information on status and delays. Baser Freight - a FTL and LTL freight brokerage in Minnesota - chooses to provide customers with updates through email instead of an online customer portal.

By addressing the status changes and order delays as soon as they happen, whether through an online portal or through, your 3PL team can keep customers in the loop. Remember, the sooner customers find out about delays the better - extending this only makes the delay harder to cope with and decreases customer trust in your services.

3 | Take Advantage Of Automation To Relay Information From Drivers

Having more touchpoints during the course of delivering an order is important for improving the customer experience, but can be challenging to implement without investing heavily in dispatcher-driver check calls. These aren't just annoying for drivers, they suck time out of your dispatchers' day and can be tedious, leading to higher team turnover and a lack of productivity for revenue-gaining tasks like new account sales.

With the advent of current transportation management software technology, 3PLs and freight brokers can use tools like email automation to relay information from drivers to customers without a dispatcher having to serve as the middleman.

For example, JBaron Trucking - a small trucking company based out of Atlanta, GA - uses email automation tools to provide multiple touchpoints to their customers with minimal dispatchers. This allows them to minimize overhead costs and move more loads without compromising on customer service, since they automatically relay shipment updates from drivers to their customers in the form of transactional emails - all without any dispatcher involvement.

JBaron Trucking uses email automation to relay driver updates directly to customers through an online portal and emails

Conclusion - Update Your Customers, And Use Technology To Do It

Optimizing your customer experience by using transactional comms channels to tell customers about order delays and changes isn't just a piece of running a successful 3PL or freight brokerage business - it's often the core of your team's value to shippers.

That's why it's essential to build a playbook of strategies and technologies that your team can use to tackle these challenges with minimal effort and headache.

Looking for more resources to grow your 3PL business? Check out our free FPLearn Books & Reports

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