In the transportation industry, communication means everything. Open communication allows drivers, operators, shippers, warehouse workers and others to all coordinate the sometimes complicated process of getting goods from one destination to the next.

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Unfortunately, even a small breakdown in communication can lead to big problems along the chain. This is why good communication requires that solid relationships be built between trucking companies and shippers using technologies like electronic data interchange (EDI) as well as by establishing expectations through SOPs from the outset of a contract.

According to Elton Chung, co-founder of NEXT Trucking, “Erroneous billing is perhaps the best way to lose a business relationship, but [it is] also the most preventable. On the one hand, getting goods to their destination has already been accomplished, The heavy lifting is quite literally done. On the other, however, is the procurement department that may be working with hundreds of carriers. They get a lot of invoices, each of which might need to be checked against a contract to identify agreed-upon detention rates and other fees.”

Chung’s statement demonstrates that relationships between carriers and shipping companies often extend beyond the point of drop off. This means that building solid relationships from the start and cultivating these relationships is all the more important when growing your client base and your company’s reputation within the transportation industry.

Below are a few tips to help you ensure that your efforts not only lead to open and clear communication, but also that they give way to more lucrative relationships for business development:

Provide Transparency

Building professional relationships can only benefit from transparency. To be transparent, attempt to provide your shipper with as much documentation as possible during the planning phase of a contract in order to give peace of mind. This also allows the shipper to ask questions and receive clarity to avoid surprises down the road.

Offer Multiple Points of Contact

Modern shipping is a 24/7 effort, and no one likes reaching a voicemail during an emergency. To keep things running smoothly, set up multiple points of contact that your shipping partner can use to reach you. Additionally, utilize various methods of communication, including EDI, to keep shippers in the loop.

Address Problems Quickly

Finally, despite the best efforts of everyone involved in a contract, problems can and do come up. Addressing issues quickly shows that you’re on top of your game, but it also demonstrates that you have a genuine desire to ensure quality customer service.