This is a guest contribution from Crossflight.
When it comes to shipping or exporting goods overseas, you should never make the error of selecting the first option you find – or even the cheapest. While it might seem like a laborious task at first, it’s vital that you weigh up your options when it comes to finding a courier service you can rely on.
To help you get started with your search, here’s a guide of what to look out for when choosing the perfect courier service to meet your business needs.
- Expertise and Experience
- Customs Clearance
- Proactive Approach
- Bespoke Solutions
- Real-Time Updates and Tracking
- Building a Relationship
1. Expertise and Experience
Through experience comes expertise and unrivalled knowledge in the courier business. The courier services that you narrow your options down to should have all the answers to any queries you might have. Plus, they should be able to offer you tailored options to meet your exact needs.
Selecting a courier service with years of prior experience suggests that they’re more reliable. With a proven track record, they can be a more risk-free option compared to new or unestablished alternatives.
To benefit from saving costs, look for a courier service that can find the most efficient ways to route deliveries. For example, it can be through an intelligent routing system which takes into account several factors to determine which journey will be the most efficient and successful for its clients.
When it comes to cost-effectiveness, it’s not just about the money aspect. Even though intelligent routing might mean your deliveries are taken through a longer yet more efficient journey, you need to think about other aspects.
Think about the costs of working with a courier service such as constant late deliveries, re-sending items time and time again because of previous failure, the time you spend on the phone to fix these issues and so on.
As a whole, the better the relationship you have with a trusted courier service, the more cost-effective it is. So, look for a courier service that provides genuine value which reduces costs overall. Plus, you might end up paying high rates with smaller courier services because they have no choice, while others are big enough to negotiate their tariff.
It’s simple – we all tend to pick companies that have relevant accreditations, certifications or even awards. It’s because they’re proof that a business knows what it’s doing and courier service is no different.
Courier services need to meet and maintain certain standards and quality levels to keep hold of those accreditations. When narrowing down your search, make sure to keep an eye on the accreditations the courier services hold, such as ISO:14001, ISO:9001 and AEO.
By having these, it’s evidence that the courier service you’ve chosen is qualified to carry out the level of work that your business needs.
4. Customs Clearance
Having this process as efficient as possible is highly beneficial so that your customers are never left frustrated. Look for a courier service that can ensure getting customs clearance paperwork right at the first time of asking.
All courier services are treated the same. However, the difference is that some will have more customs knowledge than others. So, look for a partner that will know if something will have trouble at customs or not.
When searching for the right courier service, look for a partner that offers flexible delivery options rather than one that caters to its own requirements. If a courier company offers more than one limited option that it expects its clients to cater to, it shows that the experience offered might not be the most convenient.
On the other hand, businesses that have ever-changing needs will want to work with a courier service that has flexible delivery options. When it comes to seamless and enjoyable customer experience, there’s less hassle involved with flexible delivery options. Meaning there are happier customers.
Look for a courier service that takes full responsibility throughout the journey of your shipments. As there are many parties involved in the delivery of your shipments, such as handling agents, airlines, customs and delivery agents, look for a courier service that takes full responsibility through the life cycle of your shipments.
Make sure the courier service you choose commits to being responsible for your shipped goods from start to finish and will take ownership throughout the entire business.
7. Proactive Approach
For peace of mind, it’s good to know that you’re working with a courier service that you can rely on. The last thing you need is an issue with delivery taking your focus away from your everyday business tasks.
A good courier service will have a dedicated customer service team that proactively manages all of your deliveries. This is much more beneficial as you’ll be alerted at the earliest opportunity so they can get to the bottom of the issue. It’s better than working with a reactive courier service which may only keep you in the loop once an issue has become a genuine problem.
8. Bespoke Solutions
Never settle for a courier service that only offers a one-size-fits-all approach. If you need something more tailored to your needs, then look for a courier service that can offer a bespoke solution instead.
The best courier services should be able to work with you to create bespoke applications and streamline the distribution of your shipments. For example, a bespoke solution might be the creation of custom integration solutions. Although, this can vary between courier services so ask what they can do for your business.
9. Real-Time Updates
One of your top priorities to look out for should be your courier service’s ability to offer real-time updates. If you’re a business that regularly works with clients that need updates about their shipments, then this can’t be overlooked.
Real-time updates and shipment tracking offers you that extra peace of mind. It gives you greater visibility into the entire process and you can update everyone with the exact status – not just what was reported hours earlier.
There’s no denying that sometimes, things can go wrong where nobody is at fault. However, an added bonus to look for is having the ability to have direct access to a dedicated customer service team. So, if a mistake does occur, it’s nice to know that you’re not in the dark and can contact somebody.
10. Building a Relationship
If you’re regularly shipping goods, then it’s important to choose the right courier service that you can actually build a relationship with. By having the ability to put faces to names, you can build a level of trust which isn’t always achievable with every courier service provider.
A courier service that’s open to building a relationship with your business won’t make you feel like ‘just another customer.’ This means they’re more likely to quickly solve any issues that arise, complete ad-hoc requests, complete complex projects and offer bespoke solutions.
For your business to really enjoy the benefits of working with a reliable courier service, you need to be positive you’re picking the perfect one. The tips in this article should help you choose wisely.
For tips on working with freight forwarders in international trade, read this Open to Export interview with the Institute of Export & International Trade’s Shipping Office.