Discover how we created a convenient customer portal for a third-party logistics company that takes the customer experience to the next level.
A US-based third-party logistics company that offers B2B transportation services contacted us regarding software product development. Our client already had a custom transport management system created by another software development vendor. He wanted to create a customer portal and integrate it with his TMS. That would help his business build transparent relationships with customers and successfully compete with rivals by providing exceptional customer service.
The product we created benefits several groups of stakeholders
Business customers get an opportunity to:
View up-to-date shipment information anytime
Download the needed transport documentation
Have a holistic view of all shipments
Easily and quickly fill in all order info
In turn, the client’s logistics agents:
Get free from routine task
Can focus on providing timely and high quality customer service
Work more effectively, which leads to cutting operating costs
Robust order management module
Previously, customers had to directly contact their logistics agents to place orders. Customers sometimes need to make multiple orders at once, and dictating information and double-checking it was time-consuming and a potential source of errors. With the order management module, this process became simpler:
A customer fills in order details in the app. They can use templates, pre-populate the form with the data from previous shipments, or automatically generate multiple orders by simply uploading a CSV file of a predefined structure.
If that’s a regular shipment with predictable pricing, a customer can create an order without a quote request - the system automatically sends it to the TMS and admin panel. Otherwise, a customer can request a quote before sending the order to processing. The logistics agent calculates the price in the admin panel and sends it back to the cust.
The order data is sent to the TMS and admin panel. The logistics agent assigns the fleet, plans truckload, and builds the route.
The customer app receives information and notifies a customer about the submitted shipment. The system generates the Order card, where customers can track their shipment.
Real-time tracking functionality
To build trust with customers, our client defined transparency of business processes as one of his main business objectives.
The tracking feature delivers value to customers by:
Showing the full route of the shipment
Estimating the number of delivery days
Showing detailed shipment statuses that change immediately after the status is updated in the TMS
Notifying customers about delivered shipments or extraordinary situations that cause delays
Displaying the list of all documents related to the shipment with the ability to download them
To simultaneously track multiple orders, we created a dashboard that places all shipment information at a customer’s fingertips. For ease of use and quick access to information, we made several improvements to the standard dashboard functionality:
Check if order is paid, awaiting for payment, or overdue
Sort orders by date, type, status, etc
Filter orders in the set timeframe
Go to the tracking page of the particular order
Check the progress of the shipment
To make this possible, we created a module and integrated it with the client’s existing TMS via a custom API. We had access to the TMS source code, so on the back end we developed an API that can send data from the TMS to our customer portal.
We also implemented a message broker that can send updates and notifications via email, SMS, and the customer portal right after data is updated.
Automated document processing
Customers can access and download bills of lading, commercial invoices, certificates of origin, and other accounting documents. Automatic document generation was part of the TMS functionality, so integrating with the TMS also allowed us to easily and safely send documents to the customer portal. To be sure that the system sends documents to the authorized user, we implemented an access check for each document request.
The system is integrated with Sap ERP and Oracle ERP so customers can send documents directly to their ERP software. This saves a lot of time for end customers’ employees.
What’s more, customers can generate documents with a customized structure and format so there’s no need to reformat files to meet their own standards. A customer can set a custom document structure in settings by uploading a sample structure file. After submitting this file, the system will automatically add documents with the predefined structure to the list of downloadable transportation documents.
Helping client stand out from the competitors
The crowded transportation market forces third-party logistics companies to continuously seek ways to stand out from rivals. Our client’s company achieved several competitive advantages thanks to the actions we took:
Created intuitive UX for complex functionality
The customer portal handles high volumes of data that should be consistently organized and stored. Our task was to make a simple design where users can quickly find the information they need. We nailed this task by:
Implementing simple navigation with only tabs that matter
Highlighting important information on the order card so it’s easy to digest
Adding analytics where customers can get useful insights into their collaboration with our client and adjust their production or distribution strategies to account for possible delays
Introduced a new communication channel
For this project, we implemented our out-of-the-box real-time messaging solution written in Golang. The functionality we implemented provided customers and agents with additional communication channels through which they can send files or images.
Created onboarding for new customers
To be sure that customers make the most of the platform, we implemented an engaging onboarding experience for new and existing customers. For existing customers who only just started using the portal, we designed a step-by-step tour with screen tips. For new customers who are unfamiliar with the company`s processes, our client created an onboarding video that we embedded into the start screen.
Results in numbers
After half-year, our client evaluated business performance. He witnessed a significant increase in the most valuable KPIs and shared it with us:
Increased customer lifetime value
New clients onboarded
Decreased the time on problem-solving
Decreased the time on orders processing
A customer placed an order by phone, dictating details to the logistics agent and confirming them. Logistics agents put this data in the TMS system and manually calculated the shipping cost.
Customers have several convenient ways to provide order data. Automating this process saves time and reduces the number of failed shipments due to errors when placing orders by phone. Logistics agents have no need to fill in and recheck order forms. Moreover, the system can automatically calculate the cost of a regular shipment with predefined formulas. If an agent needs to specify order details, they can do it via real-time chat or by phone.
To check the status of cargo, customers contacted logistics agents via phone or email. Logistics agents spent significant time updating customers on shipment statuses and notifying about delivery or delays.
Customers can check the status of their shipments in the logistics portal at any time. The system automatically updates shipment information and sends notifications on shipment problems or successful delivery. A decreased number of phone calls lets our client’s logistics agents focus on more complex problem-solving.
Logistics agents manually sent transport documents to customers via email or by fax. If the customer needed another document structure, employees needed to reformat files manually.
All transport documents are generated automatically and can be downloaded in the logistics portal. Customers can adjust the structure of documents to meet their company’s standards. Both logistics agents and a customer’s employees are now free from this paperwork, allowing them to spend their work hours more effectively.
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