The Best Partner Carriers Provide Transparency
Q: How can service accountability and innovation help shippers stay one step ahead in a tough economic climate?
O'Dell: Vigilant shippers make sure every dollar they spend counts by choosing carriers who offer them the opportunity to shine in front of their customers. While there are different ways to accomplish this, one of the best measures a shipper can take is to look for a partner carrier that provides transparency and evolution.
For more than 10 years, Saia has tracked its performance via our Customer Service Indicators (CSIs), an index of performance measurements. Indeed, I encourage shippers to make sure their carriers are holding themselves accountable by providing honest, accurate metrics. Shippers shouldn't assume all on-time performance is created equal. It is your right to ask what shipments are excluded from service, then compare carriers to see who is providing the truest measure of service. Saia has always held itself to a higher standard by having very few service exception codes. When we say 97.5 percent of our shipments were delivered on-time, we mean it. Because of this, our customers know they are getting an accurate assessment of our performance.
Another way to assess a carrier is to look at how they view "clear" deliveries. For instance, being able to see claims-free ratios is great, but being able to see how many of your customers signed for shipments "clear" is even better. Saia measures "clear" deliveries for every Saia customer each day via our exception-free delivery metric, which is the number of error-free deliveries we make before freight is recorded as damaged, short, or in surplus. Currently, 98.3 percent of our shipments are delivered exception-free. In January, this data will be available via our Web site as part of our CSIs.
Shippers shouldn't stop at transparency; they should also partner with a carrier that fosters innovation. As an example, we recently improved our pick-up and delivery optimization software, which has significantly enhanced our overall service. Now, estimated time of arrivals are generated by our optimizer and fed directly into our tracing screens. This allows customers to get specific delivery times on their freight by calling our customer service number or tracing the shipment themselves through our Web site.
Times are challenging. But that doesn't mean shippers should expect less. In fact, they should expect their carrier to always be looking out for their best interests.