The Extra Mile Podcast by Metafora explores the world of Transportation and Logistics. We’ll chat and challenge the leaders who drive our industry and create the technology that helps take everything where it needs to go. From trucking company best practices to freight brokerage risk management, becoming a carrier of choice, and beyond. Join our experts as they discuss some of the industry’s most relevant topics with guests who live and breathe logistics.
Customer Service and Why It’s Important with Pawel Wencel
A new season of The Extra Mile Podcast by Metafora just started, and it is full of great conversations, awesome guests, and more surprises! We kick off this season with an exploration into the importance of quality customer service.
Our hosts Adam”P-Mutt” Perlmutter and Teresa Ronquillo chat with an expert on the topic… Pawel Wencel, Customer Service Manager at Metafora. From what customer service is to what it isn’t, why it’s important, and how to measure its success, we dive into all things customer service with Pawel.
“People Never Forget How You Make Them Feel”- Pawel Wencel
Born and raised in the beautiful country of Poland in central Europe, then he moved to the United States when he turned 10. During his professional career he worked in a number of fields. He did recruiting for a staffing agency and then transitioned into healthcare manufacturing through a variety of roles and positions. He found Metafora through Shanna Greathouse with whom he used to work with at the healthecare manufacturing firm!
What IS Customer Service and what ISN’T?
Customer Service is not about solving unique problems. Customer Service is about fostering relationships through an ongoing collaborative experience that continuously delivers value to your customers or clients.
There are many ways to do this, including personalized onboarding, identifying and exceeding goals, recommendation of features, proactively asking for and implementing feedback, as well as celebrating each other's success and milestones.
From an organizational perspective it creates loyalty, strengthens reputation, and supports growth.
What it isn’t:
It is not thinking by yourself in a silo
It's not providing limited myopic solutions to problems.
Why is customer service important?
“It's if you're operating a business and if you're looking to maintain your customer base, providing customer support/ Customer service is an incredible way for you to retain customers”- Pawel Wencel
Pawel explains that customer satisfaction directly impacts customer retention, which directly affects revenue:
Strong Brand Loyalty
Higher Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Decreased Brand Abandonment
Retention ROI versus Cost of Acquisition
Did you know companies with a customer service mindset drive revenue 4 to 8% higher than the rest of their industry?
Roughly 80%, 81% of companies view customer experience as a competitive differentiator.
Your favorite brands are the ones that treat you well and that you have a good experience.
It's more cost effective for a company to retain existing customers than to acquire new customers.
What has led to Metafora’s Customer Service success?
Team Leadership and Teammate Autonomy
Teamwork Buy-In and Collaboration
Setting Realistic and Clear Goals
Defining and Tracking Success and Performance
Going Above and Beyond User Expectations
Fostering Client and User Relationships
Effective User Onboarding and Ongoing Training
Establishing a Hierarchy of Support
Capturing and Implementing Feedback
Having the Right Tool For the Right Job
“Customer service it's not just a function, but necessarily it's just this little amoeba-like thing that touches everything in a good way.”- Pawel Wencel
How do you coach the team on how to handle customer service scenarios that are difficult in nature, e.g. angry customers?
Our team touches base regularly about our experiences/ We review what worked and what didn’t. We’re encouraged to have these courageous and challenging conversations that we can learn from..
Pawel coaches the team on empathizing and taking ownership and responsibility for the solution.
Pawel also coaches the team about taking accountability for driving each solution.
“Anything that's never happened, happens all the time.” - Pawel Wencel
Get to know the new EMP co host, Teresa!
Are you ready for a new season of The Extra Mile Podcast by Metafora? We’re beyond excited to bring you new topics, new guests, and a new… co-host! You know her as Metafora’s Marketing Director, and now she’s adding podcasting to her list of fave things about her job… Introducing: Teresa! Ronquillo. Listen now to catch a sneak peek into what’s in store with Season 3, and get to know P-Mutt’s new co-host.
Host Adam”P-Mutt” Perlmutter puts his new host in the guest seat in this short teaser episode for The Extra Mile Podcast by Metafora. He chats with Teresa about her career, her hobbies, and why she’s excited to be joining him as a host on the pod.
Teresa started her marketing career in New York City, where she did marketing for children's books at Simon & Schuster. After five years in NYC, she took a big leap from NYC to Austin, Texas to join the marketing team at IBM. She credits her expertise in the buyer’s journey to her time there.
In 2017, she decided to take a year off from office life to teach yoga and work at a spa. YOLO.
When she missed the marketing life, she jumped back in to do content marketing for a small media company in Philly, PA. Then, mid-pandemic, she learned about Metafora and their need to build a marketing function. The opportunity sounded amazing and she joined the wonderful Metafora team in November of 2020. Since then, she is proud to slowly but surely be becoming a SME in all things transportation, logistics, and supply chain. (Yes! Ask her about buy vs build or capacity strategy!)
Always on the Move
Teresa has lived all over the place. Cities she has called home? San Antonio, Miami, New York, Austin, Philadelphia, to name a few. Most recently she has moved to a little town called Los Angeles, California.
What else is fun to know about Teresa?
She is a passionate yogi and vegan, and an amateur comedian. In her free time you might find her performing stand up and improv comedy in LA. (What!?)
Marketing at Metafora
Teresa spends her workday managing all things marketing for Metafora. Along with her amazing marketing coordinator, Valentina Hoyos, (Lean Solutions Group shout out!) Teresa helps plan Metafora’s conference presence, develop and execute content strategy, build campaigns, manage agencies, and so much more. She is particularly proud of the Metafora blog and all the downloadable content that Metafora has published over the past couple of years.
“There's so much research, preparation, interviews, writing, and editing that go into our content.” - Teresa Ronquillo
What has Teresa learned during her time with Metafora?
“I've learned so much about employee engagement and retention, both in the content that we've created and shared via our blog and social media, but also just from our own company culture.”
Teresa adds, “...I learned a lot this year about capacity strategy, and pretty much anything that we've put out content on. I genuinely feel like I learn so much in the process.”
A Look Ahead: Season 3 of The Extra Mile Podcast by Metafora
We’ll continue to focus on training, training-as-a-service. We’ll dig deeper into buy vs build and a hybrid approach. Agile improvement will also be a spotlight topic for 2023. All this and more so be sure to like, share, subscribe, etc.
Training: More Important Than You Realize with Ryan Schreiber
Have you been hearing us talk recently about… training, training, and more training? Did you hear our recent announcement about Sync Logistics training? Well, the hype is still going in this episode of the Extra Mile Podcast by Metafora. Also, did we mention… it’s the season finale!!!! Don’t worry though, we’ll be back in 2023 with more great guests and conversations. Our host Adam”P-Mutt” Perlmutter and guest host Teresa Ronquillo chat with the one and only Ryan Schreiber, VP of Industry and Growth at Metafora. They discussed a very interesting topic: training and training-as-a-service. What’s the moral of the story? There is a business cost to not doing training or to doing training poorly. Conversely, if you train your people the right way, it’s an investment rather than an expense. This way, your employees will be trained based on what you need for the company and, more importantly, what you need from them. Training-as-a-Service: Sync Logistics Training Ryan shares the origin story of the brand name for this new training-as-a-service solution. Sync made sense for so many reasons, largely what it represents as the root word for many other words. To illustrate: Some of the training can be done synchronously. Some of the training can be done asynchronously. Sync is synchronizing the learning, as in standardizing it. Issues with the Current State of Training We dump too much on people early on, and then they often remember a bunch of stuff they don’t need to remember yet, and they don’t remember a bunch of stuff they do need to know at that point in their training. Companies don’t do enough training early on and then don’t have an opportunity to come back to the basics for many employees. Setting this foundation is crucial. Companies don’t do a good job explaining the “why”. Without the why, you’re simply just training your people to become automatons. The training sticks and becomes true knowledge when people understand why they are learning it, why it’s important, why it is the way it is, why the knowledge will help them in their role, etc. The focus tends to be on new hires only. There needs to be an equal focus on ongoing and developmental training. Consider: First time managers. How to have difficult conversations. Advanced capacity strategy concepts. What challenges does Sync Logistics Training tackle for transportation and logistics companies? Challenge: It’s hard to avoid management burn-out on training Challenge: It’s difficult to make digital training engaging Challenge: It’s hard to ensure that shadowing time for new hires is valuable, impactful, and not a waste of time for all employees involved Challenge: Improving a training program is costly Challenge: It takes too long to get new hires to a place where they are valuable contributors. What’s the thesis of Sync Logistics Training? The concept here is to take employees on a learning journey, beyond new hire training. It starts on day one, yes, you need to build a better new hire training program, but equally important are ongoing and developmental training. What type of companies would benefit the most from implementing a quality TaaS solution? Ones that want their employees to ramp faster Ones that want their customer and carrier experience to be better Ones that want to build a deeper bench Want to check out more of the content references in this episode? Well, then, here you go: Official Sync Logistics Training Website Pain Points addressed by Sync Logistics Training Metafora Holiday Gift Guide More training content on the Metafora blog
The Evolution of LTL with Curtis Garrett from FreightPlus
In this episode, Robert Bain chats with Curtis Garrett, Senior Vice President at FreightPlus and the founder and Chief Creative at Understand LTL. They have a deep conversation around the evolution of LTL, where it came from, where it is and where it's going. What is LTL? “LTL: it's easy to plug in some zip codes, some weights and a freight class, and get a quote. It all looks real promising and you just pick who you want to use. But it's often after you hit the book with that carrier, things can kind of go awry from missed pickups or the carrier not having enough capacity when they back into the dock, or literally space on that trailer to the black hole that is sometimes the line haul process, and just going by, scanning in and out of terminals, but not really knowing where the freight is exactly.” - Curtis Garrett LTL Complexities It is segmented and each segment doesn't always communicate as well as it should. You either have an empty truck or trailer in position or you don't. Freight Classes Density: NMFC (The National Motor Freight Traffic Association) items are moving towards just being full density based. If you have the weight and you get the cube of the freight, you end up with that pound per cubic foot, and then that's gonna fit on the scale until you know where the class needs to be. Packaging: Example: TV’S. Those are shipped in the box that's gonna be put on the shelf. So the box itself is a product as well. You have to make sure that it doesn't get scuffed or pierced or damaged.Configurability: How the freight loads into a trailer and utilizes space to then play with other freight. LTL Landscape About 55 to 60 billion a year as far as the true LTL market If you look at the top 25 to 30 carriers, they make up the 99% of that revenue going up to the top. The biggest, FedEx Freight, they're gonna be over 8 billion this year. The second in size is going to be Old Dominion, they should pass 6 billion this year. So there is quite a gap between first and second. And then you've got The Yellows, The XPOs, The T Force and Estes, etc. There's a lot that is tightly packed, they're always changing and leapfrogging. Then you have some very solid regionals, which are very good options to use. They're big enough that they have the resources, the capacity, the technology, but they are tightly focused on a certain region in the country with usually quicker transit times. Why would a shipper or manufacturer, anybody that utilizes LTL services, why would they want to utilize an LTL carrier? It depends on how much you are shipping at a time. What's the average pallet count or weight of orders that you're sending out?, LTL allows you to be nimble and strategic with getting your product to your customers or bringing raw materials or different products into your own facility. LTL Pricing Misunderstandings around pricing It needs to be simplified. It's complicated now because the carriers have a hard job. Managing the labor, the equipment, the facilities, the fuel, to account for all that and run some shipment data through your cost model. There's a lot of moving parts and a lot of variables. Curtis Garrett mentioned “I think, to simplify this, it's going to be a collaboration, a community effort between companies and people willing to experiment, take a chance, try something new, document that, turn that into a new pricing product, and just kind of move slowly there…It's just gonna have to continue evolving.” LTL Future Build a community Everybody from different party lines or different silos, can come together and share ideas and collaborate and get better. Learn more about FreightPlus at https://www.freightplus.io/
A deep conversation around Logistics Systems with Mike Mulqueen from JBF
In this episode, Adam Perlmutter chats with Mike Mulqueen, Consulting Strategy Practice Lead at JBF Consulting. They have a deep conversation around logistic systems and the complexity of selecting the right system.
Mulqueen also outlines big logistics technology changes, recent market trends, key technologies/considerations that shippers should be watching, and more!
“Our primary clients are shippers… that will use contract freight, LTL,, truck load, parcel. Oftentimes they'll have either dedicated fleets or private fleets, and we help them in a number of ways. My practice is focused on technology assessment and making a determination as to what technology or set of technologies an individual shipper should be using to achieve their desired end state.” - Mike Mulqueen
Implementation of TMS
Due to issues such as bad data, organizational changes, and turnover, businesses often do not reap the full benefits of their TMS. At JBF there is a practice called "Accelerate", which revolves around continuous improvement, providing organizations with training on specific applications, super users, and also doing a decent amount of modeling and acquisition events.
Exciting things in the logistics space
You get to solve big problems
Opportunity to have an impact on shareholder value and transportation
Transportation and supply chain has become forefront in everybody's mind
The complexities are so grand that you never stop learning
Transportation and logistics has so many sub components are very differ, each with their own unique set of problems to solve.
Truckload, intermodal, LTL, ocean, air, parcel. Then add to this all the complexity that comes along with geographic variables.
If you want to solve big problems, transportation will keep you on your toes!
How does JBF Consulting go about determining who is the right fit for clients?
Define the desired end state. Look across all key sub-processes of transportation for a shipper and in multiple different lenses.
Ex. How do you procure contract rates? What is your process for inbound transportation, be it international or domestic inbound? What is your process for outbound transportation?
Figure out what they're doing well and what they're not doing well. Then document what the opportunity is.
Understand the KPIs that will be used to determine success is also key in the vendor selection process.
That becomes the basis for JBF’s vendor selection.
“TMS applications are extremely reliant on good data. I need to make sure my rates, my contracts, my customer preferences, my time… all these different pieces are set up accurately, and it's not just a one time setup.”- Mike Mulqueen
Key technologies that shippers should be watching
Microservices architectures with defined user exits (i.e. web hooks that enable TMS customers to customize the solution)
Old paradigm of waiting for the annual release is (or should be) dead
Enable the market to build extensions
Lots of hype, but this will be important in the long run
Focus has been primarily on two areas
Requires lots of data
Requires new skill sets for ML users, but potential is there.
The world is uncertain. Probabilities need to be taken into account during planning
Ex: Should I put my fleet on Load X? Decision is determined based on the probability of a load originating near the termination of Load X.
Should I ship this UPS ground if the customer needs it tomorrow?
“You want your TMS system almost to have to be thinking like your dispatcher, your dispatcher's got all this knowledge in their head. They know stuff. I'm trying to make it so that my TMS system has that same level of knowledge and can make decisions appropriately.” - Mike Mulqueen
Boutique consulting firm
Focus on transportation management technology
Primary clients: shippers!
Learn more about JBF at https://jbf-consulting.com/
Driving a Meaningful Company Culture with Randy Perkins from ITS
In this episode our hosts, Robert Bain and Adam Perlmutter chat with a special guest… Randy Perkins, VP of Capacity at ITS Logistics. They discuss ITS Company Culture and the challenges that have come with growth as well as the importance of driving a meaningful and impactful capacity strategy.
He worked in diesel parts for a long time. His brother started working with ITS and motivated him to come on board too. As soon as he got into this, it pulled him in just like it probably pulls most people in... It's addictive! (In a good way!)
T&L is a fast paced environment and the mainframe of the economy.
“I'm not going anywhere, you know this is it for me, this is my endgame, I'm here indefinitely”.- Randy Perkins, on how much he enjoys working at ITS, and thus plans to stay there.
ITS in the market
ITS was founded in 1999, started off as an asset sized, and then expanded to warehousing as well as brokerage. They founded their brokerage arm in 2012. Since then, they’ve just exploded into a top 25 brokerage firm.
Their main focus is specializing in expedited, which is the uniqueness that ITS provides to the industry.
They work in every different aspect such as: having a drayage division, the standard OTR division, reefer temp control division, specialized freight.
Growth & People
ITS’s growth thus far has been organic. They started small and credit a lot of their business growth to their people. ITS is very focused on the competitive nature and everybody that they bring in house.
The other unique thing about ITS’s business model is that they have a significant amount of assets, and they utilize those same assets in their brokerage side.
It all starts with the ability to recruit the proper people. ITS have done a lot in regard to making sure that they are hiring optimal types of personalities. While industry experience is important, ITS cares more about your ability to take on challenges and overcome them. For example, they want to know:
How have you overcome adversity in your life?
Are you that type of person when things get hard? Are you able to overcome that?
What are some of the challenges that have come with growth?
They had to overcome negativity in the beginning. A lot of people told them “You can’t” when they started. Critics challenged ITS’s ability to be based out of Reno and to be regionally located, but ITS has succeeded.
Technology difficulties: early on, they had a lot of manual processes. They had to slowly but surely get the right tech in place. Making sure they provided the team with what they needed to succeed was huge for them.
Again, Randy repeats that part of the secret sauce for ITS is their employee recruitment. ITS hires people in a very selective way with the intent of keeping them long term.
Improving training: From teaching people how to engage with carriers and promote growth of the relationship to how to manage issue resolution.
Continue to become and maintain a status of best in class. With this, they launched their “Carrier Commitments”.
“Focus on the root, not the fruit.” Focus on driving relationships which is the root, and the fruit of that, which is that carriers genuinely appreciating working with ITS, will come.
Tech focused on driving efficiency, productivity, and the carrier experience: load boards, general carrier engagements, working on care, reports…
Carrier benefits: show carriers that they're valued. Ex: driver appreciation week.
Capacity strategy is so important to every organization because it's needed. Every brokerage firm needs to invest into capacity strategy. There are stigmas and stereotypes that need to be broken and capacity strategy helps break the stigma and stereotypes associated with carriers.
How do you create a meaningful and impactful capacity strategy?
Constantly reiterate it: keep it front of mind - don’t get complacent.