5 easy ways for 3PLs to manage high email volume

Third party logistics companies (3PLs) process an incredible amount of email each day. With new requests, order questions, shipment updates, and support inquiries coming in 24/7, workers often spend nearly half their day on email.

If it’s not managed efficiently, email can slow down your logistics business. That’s why many 3PLs are making effective email management a top priority and adopting software to help them manage high email volume.

Here are five ways 3PLs can use an email management tool like Front to stay on top of a high volume of email, work faster, and get ahead of their competition.

1. Get the full picture with a shared inbox

Many 3PLs field new requests from a group email address, like inquiries@acme.com. Group email is tough for teams to manage, though: there’s no way to quickly decide which teammate should reply to an email, and you can’t access all the conversations your teammates have had with a customer.

To solve these problems, 3PLs use a shared inbox, which allows the whole team to access the same queue of emails in a single inbox, get the full picture of all your communications with clients, and easily see all the work that needs to be done.

Let’s take Acme Logistics Corp., our fictional 3PL, as an example. Say Acme has three employees who need to manage incoming emails together: Rene and Chris in New York, and Jamie in Los Angeles.

When Chris arrives to work in New York, he’ll see everything his teammates have been working on in the shared inbox, like a shipment email that Jamie started handling in LA the night before. He can see the whole email thread between Jamie and the customer. With that context, he knows immediately if he needs to jump in and continue the conversation.

With the shared inbox, the Chris, Jamie, and Rene can work together to find a resolution faster — which means they can keep orders moving and dodge setbacks like storage and missed delivery fees.

Read more on using shared inboxes in Front.

2. Respond faster with automatic email routing

For 3PLs, every second that an email goes unanswered can mean lost business or costly delays. What if you could get emails to the right teammate automatically, so your team didn't have to spend time hunting for answers or deciding who should reply to an email?

That’s why many 3PLs use automatic email routing to get every email into the hands of the right teammate instantly, based on expertise, geolocation, customer relationship, or other triggers.

Let’s take a look at Acme Logistics, Inc. again: Rene knows everything about free trade zones (FTZs), and Chris is a pro at hazardous materials (hazmat) shipments. They can set up automatic email routing that identifies the words "FTZ" or "hazmat" in emails and automatically sends that email to the teammate with that expertise.  

With a robust logistics email management tool, you can layer email routing. For instance, you could include time zone into the setup: Although Chris is the hazmat wiz, an email received at 6pm on the East Coast might be better handled by Jamie in LA, where it’s only 3pm. You can set up routing to get the email in Jamie’s hands, so the customer doesn’t have to wait until the next work day to get a reply — even if Chris is the expert.

Check out how you can set up automatic email routing with rules in Front.

3. Take warning, stand by your SLA

A common thread among the most successful 3PLs is that they make it a priority to measure and uphold service level agreements (SLAs). Missing an SLA can lead to several problems:

  1. Not solving the immediate issue: SLA-related penalties, plus the fallout costs of not solving the problem in a timely manner (demurrage, dry run charges, missed delivery fees).
  2. Domino-effect problems: If missing response deadlines is a problem once, that problem may be repeated as you attempt to play catch up, resulting in further SLA breaches and repeated problems from #1.
  3. Loss of business: Customers who rely on an SLA are serious about their business needs. They're likely to give their contract to one of your competitors after repeated SLA breaches.

Many 3PLs avoid these nightmares by using an email management tool to set up SLA breach warnings. When a customer email comes in, these warnings will bump the email to the top of the inbox and flag it as urgent, so your team can respond before the SLA is breached.

Taking time to set SLA breach warnings for emails helps your team meet obligations, measure success rates, and exceed your customers’ expectations.

Read how to easily set up SLA breach rules in Front.

4. Use email templates to jumpstart replies

If you’re a logistics professional, you probably send or receive messages like these multiple times a day:

  • “When is the last free day?”
  • “Please provide proof all charges have been paid.”
  • “How many days of storage do I get?”
  • “We are still missing documents for your container.”

Whether it’s an order confirmation, shipment update, invoice, or request to learn more information, saving an email template for it can help your team out in many ways:

  1. Faster replies: Replies that took minutes to type out can be sent in seconds.
  2. Personalization: With nitty gritty details already typed out in an email template, your team has more time to spend adding greetings and personalization for every customer.  
  3. Simple training for new teammates: Filling in blank fields is easier than remembering for each shipment what information you need from your customer.  Starting from scratch each time, you may forget to ask the client for key piece of information, like last free day, or arrival date.
  4. Consistent brand messaging: Keep a streamlined voice and tone across your entire company.

Learn more about saving email templates with Front's canned responses.

5. Build auto-replies for new inquiries

Auto-replies are useful in many instances, not just for taking vacations. You can easily set up all sorts of auto-replies using an email management tool. A few common ways 3PLs leverage auto-replies:

  • Get more information: When a new customer submits an inquiry, many 3PLs send auto-replies to ask for more information, like a time frame to get the job done, and get the order moving faster.
  • Send additional resources: When a customer writes in with a question or submits a new order, make an auto-reply to send resources like a help center, FAQ, or how-to guide in case they need assistance.
  • Email received: During your busiest working hours, send auto-replies to customer inquiries to let them know their email was received, and that you're working on a reply. Double points if you specify a time frame in which you'll respond.

Learn about setting up auto-replies and automating customer service with Front.

Getting ahead of the competition with an email management tool

Using an email management tool to manage high email volume puts you ahead of your competition in several ways:

  • Increased productivity: With effective email management, your team can get through client emails faster, so you can handle more clients without increasing headcount or burning the team out.
  • Customer satisfaction: With time freed up and a more manageable workload, your team can deliver better results for customers, handle inquiries with more accuracy, and handle customer problems proactively — before they happen.
  • Employee happiness: With tools to help avoid repetitive tasks and prevent problems before they occur, your team will be happier and more effective.
  • Room for growth: Using your team's time more efficiently frees up resources to develop new lines of business and work on impactful long-term projects.

Many 3PL are prioritizing effective email management: read how 5 logistics companies are using Front to manage high email volume and scale their businesses.

5 ways logistics companies use Front