According to research carried out by the US Department of Commerce, around $1.48 trillion was spent on logistics and distribution in 2015 across the US. To put things in perspective, this accounts for approximately 8% of the annual GDP.
The logistics industry plays a very fundamental role in linking production companies and their consumers. Therefore, these numbers shouldn’t surprise us. Companies providing these services carry out important functions such as:
- Fleet Management
- Inventory Management
- Transportation Management
- Management of Third Party Logistics
- Handling of Materials
- Order Procurement and Delivery
- Design of Logistics Network
- Planning of Supply and Demand
Every facet of the industry depends on efficient communication between stakeholders, employees, warehouse staff, drivers, administrators and, of course, customers. Using VoIP can help companies gain the competitive edge by creating a system of seamless communication which will eventually lead to reduction in delivery time and cost and an increase in productivity. If you are looking to set up a VoIP system for your firm, here are 5 of the best service providers out there.
Let’s take a deeper look at how VoIP can help companies improve their logistics and distribution departments:
With VoIP, you have the ability to record calls. All outgoing and incoming calls will be recorded and this will aid the managerial and supervisory staff in ensuring that customers’ wishes, demands and instructions are always kept in mind. In addition, these records can be consulted during the investigation of a dispute.
Most VoIP service providers allow integration with customer relationship management systems and if all the call records are also periodically loaded there, it makes the lives of people dealing directly with customers a lot easier.
A customer contact center is the company’s primary source of letting its customers get in touch with it and call handling and distribution is always a fundamental role of the center. With VoIP, you can use call routing and interactive voice response (IVR) features to make sure that the incoming calls reach the right parties.
Time is the most important resource when it comes to customer support or contact centers and with the use of caller identification, agents can get an idea of the caller and their possible locations. Integration with CRMs make things even better because as soon as a call is received, the CRM fetches information related to the customer from the system for the agent to review before having the conversation. Details related to the orders like delivery information or order tracking can be fetched promptly, allowing agents to deal with customers swiftly and efficiently.
Every company is reliant on multiple departments for its smooth functioning. If the communication between these departments is seamless and efficient, then productivity will be maximized. A lot of departments are either directly or indirectly related to the distribution and logistics operations taking place. For example, sales, customer service, warehousing, purchasing, transport, marketing and accounting all have to stay in touch with the logistics and distribution team for different reasons. Hence, efficient communication between departments is of paramount importance.
VoIP makes this inter-departmental communication easy, quick and efficient. Most of the VoIP providers also have smartphone applications which ensure that, provided an internet connection is always available, everybody is always going to stay in touch. It doesn’t matter whether a person is present within the office or is going through packages in the warehouse, if they want to talk to someone concerning work, it’s always going to be easily possible.
Warehouse Efficiency Improvement
A warehouse is where the goods are received, from the lines of production to be dispatched, to the suppliers and eventually, the customers. The warehouse staff is of great significance in the logistics and distribution process. By using VoIP and all that comes with the package, warehouse staff can use their smartphones to stay connected with the rest of the network via their wireless networks. Supervisory staff can easily get the message across to somebody who is on the other end of the warehouse without incurring any call charges. This also makes the frequency of the made calls irrelevant which allows supervisors to make as many calls as they want to get updates of ongoing work.
In case a customer makes a special request for a package already in transit, supervisors can track the location of the pertinent driver and let the customer know whether their request will be fulfilled or not. (It is important to note that If the driver is already too close to the destination, it would be impossible for him to make a detour without disrupting the daily schedule.)
Knowing when a package is going to reach customers is always a priority and hence, delivery tracking systems often become a necessity for logistics and distribution service providers. VoIP can once again help in this regard. Using the messaging services provided by VoIP, drivers can update the delivery tracking system and inform the customers of estimated times of arrival as they make the journey towards the destination. This plays a huge part in enhancing customer satisfaction. Supervisors can also monitor the efficiency, productivity and punctuality of the drivers using the tracking system.
Reduction in Distribution Costs
Being able to send and receive information from drivers helps in reduction of distribution costs. In a hypothetical scenario where a supervisor informs a driver of an upcoming traffic clog on a route, he can make a detour and prevent the trip from getting delayed.
Calls made to drivers will call less with VoIP because VoIP data packets get transmitted via a data network instead of the GSM network where costs are considerably higher.
The Final Word
The world of online shopping is growing bigger with every passing day and that makes the need for logistics and distribution functions to be efficient, streamlined and fast, a paramount one. Usage of VoIP by people that constitute the logistics and distribution chain can go a long way in ensuring that communication is never disrupted and costs of staying in touch are kept at a minimum.