RFX Blog

Shipper Focus Group Offers Insight for 3PLs: Part 2 of 2

June 2nd, 2015

Credit Note: Much of this article comes from a document produced by the Transportation Intermediaries Association entitled “TIA Shipper Focus Group: Summary of Highlights.” The information published on this website is done so with permission from TIA.

In part 1 of this series, we showed feedback from a shipper focus group regarding their general opinions on working with 3PLs, some of the reasons they do or do not work with 3PLs and some of the challenges these shippers face. Now we will explore the 3PL “Do’s and Don’ts” as well as shipper annoyances, objections and areas of concern that were expressed in this focus group.

Annoyances and objections that were expressed as a concern:

  • Shippers object to carrier rate changes on quoted loads without prior approvals or knowledge
  • Shippers don’t want a carrier to quote a price until they actually have a truck
  • Shippers want to know where their freight is when requested
  • Shippers do not want or need to talk to drivers but expect quick response to their inquiries about delays and ETAs on deliveries
  • Shippers want dependability; this is often more important than lowest cost
  • Shippers want brokers that they can count on and to use dependable carriers
  • Shippers would rather have an update if there’s a breakdown on the carrier’s end; it’s worse if they don’t knowuntil the last minute and then have to try and get a load covered elsewhere
  • Shippers want to know that a broker has done their due diligence in screening carriers, especially to avoid stolen loads, as well as FMCSA compliance.
  • Shippers often value local relationships that a broker may have with carriers in a specific area.
  • Shippers would like to see more use of technology, especially to avoid delays on receiving PODs. With so many drivers having smart phones, why can’t shipping documents get distributed faster than they currently are?


Broker Don’ts:

  • Brokers that call shippers as part of a cold call campaign and represent that that they have assets when, in fact, they do not; shippers will check the broker’s website and MC number to see if they are what they claim.
  • Brokers should avoid too many cold call solicitations by broker “boiler room” sales staff; this becomes a big annoyance.
  • Brokers can add the most value when there’s a gap in supply and demand and capacity is tight.


TIA Conclusion:

Perhaps publishing these comments as a set of best practices could be useful, especially with newer brokers. This could easily be an article in the Logistics Journal or a mini whitepaper to be used for employee training. The list could be expanded by conducting a survey of shipper executives at some time in the future.

This is the pulse from the 3PLs’ customer viewpoint and , while focus may be on issues that are important from the 3PL/broker’s point of view in growing their businesses, those companies that listen to their customers probably could derive the greatest return on investment by training or retraining their staff to improve their operations based on this customer feedback.

Posted on June 2nd, 2015 in business strategy