The modern TMS needs a customer relationship management tool

 In Blog, Featured

In the dynamic industry of logistics, where efficiency and customer satisfaction mean everything, the blend of a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform with a versatile Transportation Management System (TMS) brings a myriad of benefits. Before diving into the importance of both tools to improve logistics business, the basics:

What is a TMS?

A TMS, or Transportation Management System, is a logistics platform that helps manage the movement of goods from one location to another. It encompasses tasks such as load planning, carrier selection, and shipment tracking. Overall, a TMS enables businesses to streamline transportation operations and reduce costs.

What is a CRM?

A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system, is a technology solution designed to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle. It serves as a centralized repository for customer information, enabling businesses to track leads, manage contacts, streamline communication, and ultimately improve customer satisfaction and retention.

Now that the basics are out of the way, time to dive a little deeper.

The Importance of CRM in Logistics:

In the logistics landscape, a CRM platform serves as a cornerstone for building and nurturing client connections. Within logistics, a CRM platform plays several critical roles:

  1. Lead Management: From prospecting new clients to tracking potential business opportunities, a CRM helps logistics professionals organize and prioritize leads, ensuring that no opportunity slips through the cracks.
  2. Customer Communication: Business leaders find effective communication paramount in logistics. A CRM enables seamless interaction with clients through various channels, including email, phone calls, and social media, facilitating personalized engagements.
  3. Client Relationship Management: Beyond just transactions, logistics leaders foster long-term partnerships. A CRM allows businesses to track customer interactions, preferences, and feedback, enabling personalized service delivery and proactive relationship management.
  4. Carrier Relationship Management: Like building relationships with customers, carriers are equally important to those using a CRM. Brokers are able to keep track of carriers’ needs, engagements, and which carriers bring the greatest success to the brokerage.

Why a TMS is Necessary in Logistics:

Put simply, a Transportation Management System (TMS) optimizes processes, reduces costs, and ensures timely deliveries. Some key functions of a TMS include:

  1. Visibility and Tracking: A TMS helps logistics professionals plan the routes for shipments, taking into account factors such as distance, traffic patterns, weather, and delivery schedules. A TMS provider also may include ways to track loads at a regular cadence. This optimization minimizes fuel consumption, lowers transportation costs, and enhances overall operational efficiency.
  2. Load Planning: Efficient load planning is essential for maximizing truck capacity and minimizing deadhead miles. With a TMS, logistics professionals can consolidate shipments, optimize load sizes, and allocate resources effectively.
  3. Carrier Management: Managing a network of carriers can be challenging. A TMS simplifies this process by providing tools for carrier selection, performance monitoring, and contract management. This ensures that logistics professionals partner with reliable carriers, negotiate favorable rates, and maintain high service standards.

Maximizing Benefits of a CRM-powered TMS:

When a CRM is seamlessly integrated with a TMS, the benefits extend beyond what each system offers individually:

  1. Streamlined Operations: By integrating customer data from the CRM with logistical processes in the TMS, businesses gain a comprehensive view of customer needs, preferences, and historical interactions. This enables logistics professionals to tailor services, anticipate customer requirements, and proactively address concerns. Thorough knowledge of each customer results in enhanced customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
  2. Efficient Communication: A CRM-TMS integration facilitates seamless communication between sales, operations, and customer service teams. Real-time access to customer information enables swift response to inquiries, accurate deal processing, and proactive issue resolution. This means improved efficiency and reduced response times.
  3. Data-Driven Decision Making: By combining CRM insights with TMS analytics, logistics professionals gain valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and operational performance. This enables informed decision-making, from route optimization and load planning to sales forecasting and resource allocation.

Who Benefits Most from Using a CRM:

While the benefits of a CRM extend across various industries, logistics professionals stand to gain significantly. This includes freight brokers, 3PLs, shippers, carriers, and other stakeholders such as customer and carrier sales reps, customer service personnel, and marketers involved in transportation and supply chain management. By utilizing a CRM, these professionals can streamline lead management, enhance customer relationships, and optimize sales, marketing, and service efforts.

Drawbacks of building a custom CRM-TMS Integration:

While the integration of CRM and TMS offers numerous benefits, it also comes with potential drawbacks:

  1. Complexity: Building and integrating two separate systems can be complex and time-consuming. If they are built on different platforms or have incompatible data structures, the process only gets more difficult. This may require significant investment in IT resources and expertise to ensure seamless integration and data synchronization.
  2. Cost: Implementing and maintaining an integrated CRM-TMS solution can be costly, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses with limited budgets. From software licensing fees to customization and support costs, the total cost of ownership can add up quickly.
  3. Training and Adoption: Introducing new technology to employees requires adequate training and support to ensure successful adoption. Logistics professionals may face resistance to change or challenges in understanding and utilizing the full capabilities of the integrated CRM-TMS system.
  4. No Integrated Reporting: In order to build a report combining data from the CRM and the TMS, the person creating the report will need to move all the data to a reporting warehouse first.

To avoid these drawbacks, find a solution that brings both built together already.

Just as a skilled navigator combines the precision of a compass with the detail of a map to make a course through uncharted waters, logistics professionals can harness the combined power of CRM and TMS to navigate the complexities of the logistics landscape with confidence and clarity. By integrating CRM insights with TMS functionalities, businesses can steer towards success, ensuring they stay on course and reach their goals with precision and purpose.

In essence, the integration of a CRM platform with a TMS represents a shift in logistics management. The CRM & TMS combination empowers businesses to deliver superior service, optimize operations, and drive competitive advantage.

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