The power of self-service in transportation and logistics

16 January 2023

For organisations in transportation and logistics, it’s no longer enough to just get your shipments from A to B on time. Both private and business customers expect (demand) a top-tier service level these days. In this article, we’ll explain how a self-service portal can offer optimal service in the logistics industry.

selfservice logistiek

In transportation and logistics, margins are small, time is of the essence and transporters more or less offer similar services. Setting yourself apart from the competition under those conditions is a complicated endeavour. The area you can differentiate yourself in as a logistics service provider is service and customer focus.

Companies that deliver a superior service get a larger market share. They can set themselves apart by providing transparent information, reliable delivery, availability and flexibility.

A strong customer portal allows you to deliver better service, nurture loyal customers and increase customer value.

The benefits of self-service in transport & logistics

A self-service portal (or client/customer portal) is a personalised, digital environment behind a login, where the customer can interact with your organisation, and monitor and handle their affairs.

By seamlessly integrating the self-service portal with the back-office systems, service employees can help the customer even better. For instance, employees don’t need to spend a huge chunk of their time on writing reports and queries, and the customer service phone won’t be ringing off the hook. These things will be covered in the portal. Moreover, it gives you the chance to give customers even better service. How? We’ll walk you through it.

1. A self-service portal offers real-time insight into logistical processes

Customers, whether they’re senders, receivers, importers or exporters, want insight into and control over their shipments. Where is it, is everything on schedule? With a customer portal, you offer your customers real-time insight into the status of shipments and cargo, 24/7. By allowing them to access real-time status reports, the business can adjust its schedule and business operations as needed.

This is how you offer real-time insights through a self-service:

  • 24/7 tracking and visibility of cargo, load or shipment

  • Transparent information on loading, scheduling or the loading status

  • But also: provided services, stock history, expenses, entry and exit, invoices

  • Real-time weather reports so you can anticipate weather conditions and potential delays

  • Check current contracts

2. A logistical self-service portal offers customers control of their tasks

There are many things customers can take care of without any of your employees’ help. Like printing (return) labels, booking pickups or modifying contracts.

That’s not only nice for the customer but also for your organisation: digitising and personalising these processes only saves you time, lowers the operational costs of providing customer support and increases your efficiency thanks to more targeted customer contact.

The customer portal we developed for DHL Parcel, for instance, led to a decrease of 25% in support queries, while the daily number of shipments increased by 12%!

My DHL Parcel in hand

Want to let customers take care of their logistical affairs through the self-service portal? Consider these features:

  • Creating digital order forms and preparing shipments

  • Managing your address book

  • A chat feature or instant messaging with employees

  • Printing (return)labels

  • Checking supply levels

  • Checking the status of orders and delivery receipts with personal reference or purchase order numbers

  • Scheduling repeat orders or pick-up tasks

3. A logistical self-service portal helps you build long-term customer relationships

When customers have a positive experience with your organisation time and time again, brand loyalty increases. And by offering a personalised online environment, you can provide your customer with extra value. They’ll always have the right information at hand, customised to their specific situation – helping you solidify that bond for years to come.

This is how you develop a valuable self-service:

  • Make sure that customers can personalise their dashboards with widgets

  • Let customers create custom reports and customisable views

  • Ensure that customers have a personalised account with options for customer-specific (pricing) agreements

  • A link to the CRM system gives your customer service employees clear insight into the customer’s account details, which allows you to help customers with anything they need.

  • Offer an overview of invoices and management reports for the customer’s financial administration

A user-friendly self-service portal in 5 steps

A self-service portal is not a 'one size fits all' solution. It is wise to take a number of things into account during construction. Read our practical tips for building a successful self-service portal in the whitepaper 'A user-friendly portal in 5 steps'. You’ll have a solid foundation and get your organisation off to a flying start with a portal that will yield optimal returns.


Focus on simplicity, ease and an optimal service experience

Developing a self-service platform is always a custom job at iO. How could it not, as every organisation is different and every user has different needs? We always start with customer research to determine which tasks your customers would want to use the portal for. As part of our approach, we then combine customer tasks with the brand experience. User Experience Design, development and technology integration. Want to know more about the development of a self-service portal? Read our 9 tips on how to build an effective self-service portal.

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