Thursday, July 9, 2020
For years we’ve been hearing about automation as the big innovation in the logistics industry. But this spring, Uber Technologies announced it was closing 45 offices and laying off thousands of employees
, calling the role of automation in the logistics industry into question. Is it really adding value to the services we provide? And how much automation is too much?
At USL, we see technology as one part of the formula that’s moving the logistics industry forward. We’re always on the lookout for new technology that can help our agents, but we aren’t pushing for an entirely automated experience. We adopt new technology when it’s been proven to help people do their jobs better
. And when it can help our agents be more efficient and focused on their customers’ needs. Its value isn’t in automating interactions, but in helping the people managing those interactions. This is what tech companies who are launching automated logistics apps are missing. And it is likely the reason why they are struggling.
Human relationships are what keep the logistics industry moving. They are irreplaceable and they cannot be replicated with the click of an app. They require a commitment to time, attention and conversation in order to thrive. And the strengths of these relationships bring benefits an app can never match. Here are a few.
Confidence and trust
People want to do business with other people. And the best truck for the run isn’t always the cheapest one. There are multiple factors that can pop up and cause a carrier to increase their cost during a run. But a trustworthy freight agent has developed relationships with reliable carriers in lanes. Their customers don’t have to worry about wildly fluctuating costs for their freight.
The same longstanding relationships that build confidence and trust help us understand the nuances of situations and tailor a solution to fit. One way we see this is with our accounts payable team. They are in frequent contact with our carriers’ and factoring companies’ accounting teams. They develop an understanding of the unique needs of those teams, and can make sure that they offer solutions that truly work.
Adaptability and speed
Automated systems are not known for flexibility. If an agent needs help navigating our TMS system, Aljex, they could scour the internet for how-to videos. But that takes time. Time they may not have to spare if they have a shipment that needs to be picked up ASAP and a driver waiting on the load. We’d rather they save their time and call us, or send an email. We can get them an answer or change the load for them, and they can spend their time keeping their customers’ business moving.
Real-time support around the clock
Technology breaks down. Issues pop up. Automated systems can become a source of major frustration when an agent is trying to get something done on a holiday or in the middle of the night. But they don’t need to feel stuck working through a complicated system on their own. We can help in real time, right away. So the agent can keep loads moving for customers and avoid carriers getting stuck when they are counting on a load. Our agents have come to know us for this level of support.
“Whether you are a seasoned broker or just getting into the business, you won’t find a company that provides more personal support than US Logistics,” says Mike Huber of M&M Transportation, LLC. “They get you help quickly and provide excellent support.”
It’s natural to feel like tech companies that have successfully automated other segments of business are a threat to freight brokers. Sure, moving freight with the ease of an app sounds like a great way to save time. But there’s no app that can replace the efficiency of an experienced broker backed by a supportive team.
To find out how USL’s agent program can help you minimize the time you spend on administrative tasks and focus on building relationships and strengthening your business, visit us at uslfreight.com.