The New York Times was founded on September 18, 1851. While it’s certainly not new anymore, it is still widely regarded as the most influential newspaper in the world.
As of May 2014, it is worth $2.4 billion dollars. Compare that to the value of Twitter, whose value has dropped by more than 50% since December 2013 and is still worth almost eight times as much as the New York Times. It’s safe to say that the Times are changing. Yes, the era of social media is well upon us. And even though freight shipping is an industry that is over 3,000 years old, there are many lessons that any 3PL can learn from social media.
#1: Relationship-building with the customer is second to nothing.
Digital Media Genius: Dell trains and empowers individual employees to engage customers or prospects on social media.
In the digital era, many established companies were terrified that online engagement might convey the wrong messages. These companies trusted their public relations agencies or marketing personnel but knew that unleashing their employees online would spell disaster. Dell disagreed. Dell, a company that rocketed to success by selling directly to consumers online, had a history of thinking outside the box. Relying on research that employee attitudes can affect customer satisfaction by up to 80% and that B2B customers rely heavily on social media as a metric when buying, Dell set up a program to train individual employees to engage using social media on behalf of the company.
Freight Takeaway: What is the customer experience like when they engage with your 3PL sales team or website? Is it a week-long journey for a quote? Is there instant satisfaction? How can you improve it?
#2: It’s not B2B or B2C, it’s P2P (Person to Person)
Digital Media Genius: Corporate marketing has always been a little…stodgy. Leading social media brands are willing to break the rules a little to increase brand recognition and loyalty.
For most people, cellphone companies either garner absolutely zero attention or are hated upon for high bills. Which is why we remember it so much when Tesco Mobile, a British mobile network, engages with customers in their own language, unafraid to deal a few punches. The result? A boring mobile company got over 11,000 tweets, over 7,000 favorites and a whole lot of good will.
Freight Takeaway: Your job isn’t shipping goods from A to B. As a 3PL, your job is to provide a service to your customers. Working with customers may sometimes require going the extra mile or thinking outside the box…but when you manage to do the unexpected for a client, you’ve bought him for life.
#3: Never stop evolving.
Digital Media Genius: This is less Genius and more learn-by-example. The New York Time’s leaked 2014 Innovation Report shows what happens when a global giant goes stagnant. Ask any digital marketer what it important in 2014 and they will tell you “content is king“. But what the New York Times has discovered over the past few years is that even though it has what is arguably the best content in the world, it hasn’t adopted to social media. In a leaked report written by NYT employees, they lay out exactly what the New York Times hasn’t done to embrace the social media era. They get huge brownie points for being self-critical…but they have a long way ahead of them. See the full report here. Freight Takeaway: Just because it’s worked well for decades doesn’t mean it will keep on moving well. Technology changes, customer service expectations change, customers change and patterns change. Make sure you are staying ahead of the Times. Yes, pun intended.
#4: Speed Up
Digital Media Genius: How fast does information travel with social media? Faster than…an earthquake. In 2011, an earthquake in Virginia was quickly tweeted about. And long (well, comparatively) before the earthquake hit New York, people in New York read the tweets about it. Yea, social media is fast. And that makes sense: an earthquake can travel at only 3-5 kilometers a second while fiber signals can travel at 200,000 kilometers a second. With information travelling so fast, everyone expects an avalanche of information readily available at the fingertips, 24/7. Freight Takeaway: Just because it’s worked well for decades doesn’t mean it will keep on moving well. Technology changes, customer service expectations change, customers change and patterns change. Make sure you are staying ahead of the Times. Yes, pun intended.
#5: Be present.
Digital Media Genius: The CIA, giving up the shroud of secrecy for a warm internet hug. The CIA is the prototypical example of a secretive organization that realized that by getting out there, in front of the people, it could help it’s name far more than just relying on its reputation. After refraining from joining the social media revolution for years, the CIA broke operational silence with a simple tweet in June 2014. The tweet was retweeted a quarter of a million times and the CIA instantly gained the best possible online reputation.
Freight Takeaway: So much of the freight world relies on coasting through on reputations, hoping that word-of-mouth sales will help increase sales. Sometimes it just makes sense to buck the trends and get out there, using methods that are potentially scary but have potential to help you grow enormously.
#6: Provide service on your customer’s terms.
Digital Media Genius: Disruptive technology creates work-around for disgruntled TV watchers.
Digital media frees information. In the early 2000’s, movies and television was in its hey-day…but consumers were sick of advertisements, exorbitant bills and shows they just didn’t care about. Along came Netflix, Hulu and a cast of other online content providers. Starting with just distributing media and later on producing it (think “House of Cards“), Netflix & Co. effectively zeroed in on a pain point for consumers and created an alternative. Despite immense competition from huge corporations, a recent survey found that almost half of all US households subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus.
Freight Takeaway: Take on a giant. Providing service in a new way or with a new attitude can put you in a position where you can take on anyone. Every industry in the world is changing with technology – don’t miss this train.
[yellowbox]Enjoyed this article? Check out how one 3PL increased revenue and reduced costs by over $100,000 a year. Or just check out a free Freightos demo![/yellowbox]