As freight travels from “point A to point B”, communication between a shipper and the carrier is critical, and customer service plays a key role. Mike Parker, vice president of marketing and customer service, shares his insight into customer service at Saia and plans for the department’s future.
Q: How is Saia’s customer service department structured?
A: The department is set up like a typical call center, enabling our people to be readily available to meet our customers’ needs and answer their questions. A majority of these calls are routine calls — a shipper scheduling a pickup, one of our customers checking on their shipment schedule or other things of that nature.
Q: What is Saia currently doing to enhance its customer service operations?
A: We are shifting our focus from a KPI, or key performance indicator, like call length, mentality to a more customer-focused one — with less emphasis on metrics and more on how well we meet our customers’ needs. This shift will enable our operators to take proactive ownership of a situation. Instead of passing along the question or issue, the customer service representative (CSR) will now sign out of the queue, work with internal resources to handle the situation and then get back to the customer with an answer or resolution.
Q: Why is this setup ideal for customers?
A: Some customers have more confidence that they will be known and taken care of with customer service at the terminal level. Through our efforts to be more proactive and customer-focused, we can provide that same personalized level of service while still seeing the benefits of being centralized. We’ve found that by having a centralized call center, our CSRs have more visibility and access than personnel at the terminal level and our dedicated team is better equipped to handle busy operational periods.
Q: How does Saia plan to adapt to the evolving needs of its customers?
A: We know our customers expect high levels of quality service, so we evaluate any new initiatives against that goal before implementing across the board. For example, we are investigating the possibility of segmenting our call centers, if it would promote a more consistent experience for the customer. This structure would still maintain the visibility of a centralized call center, but would allow for a more personalized approach with our customers.
Also, we are providing our CSRs with more visibility of all inbound and outbound shipments so that they can better report on the status of a shipment. By offering access and more in-depth training, we can give our reps the knowledge they need to positively impact our shipping operations.
Q: What other tools does Saia offer to shippers?
A: Our website provides the capability to retrieve instant information on a shipment. A customer can check the status of their shipment 24/7 and run scheduled reports online. In addition to reaching our customer service team via phone, the website also features email and chat options.
We see our social media channels as an additional way to connect with our customers, offering them exclusive tips, advice and social customer service; we are exploring other ways to expand our customer service capabilities, like a mobile texting option, as well.
Q: Why does Saia prioritize these customer service initiatives?
A: We’re a service business. We handle 25,000 shipments a day and have customers shipping with us multiple times a day. Therefore, handling the exceptions, or the occasional things that don’t go to plan, is a primary opportunity for us to set ourselves apart and truly impact customer satisfaction.
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