By Reginald Tucker—Xpress Global Systems (XGS), already a leading player in the nationwide transportation of floor coverings, is looking to take its capabilities to the proverbial next level with a new-and-improved customer service portal designed to enhance the overall user experience for its clientele.
The new, self-service XGS Customer Portal offers a host of bells and whistles and features and benefits. For starters, it provides: 24/7 access to the customer’s order information, thereby reducing phone call volume; order tracking/ETA and out-for-delivery notifications to XGS customers; and a new mechanism to pay bills online. The new portal also boasts: advanced search filters; a bill of lading creator; an updated rate request form; and a tool that allows users to generate—and schedule—reports. The best part of all this, accord- ing to the company, is users can access the new portal from any web-enabled device—with no additional training required.
Daniel Millbank, director of information technology at XGS, said the new portal changes the way customers interact with the company. “The way the existing portal was set up was not user-friendly; it was built by programmers and engineers,” he explained. “The new portal makes the overall experience much more pleasurable for the customer.”
One of the main objectives, according to Millbank, was to allow users to simply log in and get started without any prior instruction. That was the driving impetus for the upgrades. “It should be natural and intuitive and make sense from the beginning,” he explained.
“That’s what we tasked the programmers to do when they upgraded the portal. Our thought process was: if your mother is not able to use the system, then we haven’t done our job. Everyone was on the same page on how to make this process as painless as possible.”
The enhancements to the new portal, which were more than a year in the making, were driven by a combination of internal upgrades and consumer requests alike. For example, the automation of some traditional customer service functions—i.e., reducing the need to speak to a live rep on the phone—alleviated manpower/personnel requirements at XGS while expediting essential requests by some of the company’s clients.
“There’s a cost to answering customer calls, and there’s a cost to managing a customer’s frustrations,” Millbank explained. “We looked closely at the type of calls we were getting versus what kinds of calls that could be automated. We learned that nobody wants to be dependent on somebody else to get their problem taken care of.”
As a result, under the new system, customers can resolve many common requests regardless of the day or time. As Millbank explained: “If customers can fix the problems themselves right away, it doesn’t matter if it’s at 11 o’clock at night or if it is during business hours. Having that flexibility of 24/7 access to be able to do everything that you need to do to make sure you, as a customer, can keep promises to the people you serve, was one of our main goals.”
A case in point is the common issue that buyers encounter when they place orders—tracking the status of shipments in real time. “With the new portal, we can create that full visibility of the status of the shipment from start to finish,” Millbank explained. “When customers have questions like, ‘Where is my shipment?’ and ‘When am I going to get it?’—the system has the capability to answer those questions and provide full visibility to the customer. That’s where we fell short in the past.” With the new changes, customers and XGS representatives using the system see the same information in real time.
This particular feature is especially critical in today’s supply-chain-challenged environment in which prolonged delays are the norm. “People are much more dependent on the supply chain today, and so are we as a company,” Millbank said. “With the new portal, we have an opportunity to make a change for our customers and create a better experience for all involved. We’re not just ‘talking’ about moving into digitalization and making that new norm, we are demonstrating it as well.”
Another noteworthy improvement of the new XGS portal is the feature that deals with the rate quote process—typically a bugaboo for any sizeable logistics provider that covers a wide service area. “The existing rate quote process that we had in place was complex at a level where even internal folks who work with this every single day found it difficult to manage,” Millbank stated. “So just imagine how the experience was from a customer’s perspective. There was an enormous focus on making sure that the process of being able to get a quote, schedule a pickup, generate shipping labels and a bill of lading was facilitated in as few steps as possible to get the customer where they needed to be.”
To ensure a smooth transition to the new XGS customer service portal, the company’s technical team worked closely with clients during the beta-test phase. These tests involved connecting internal groups with external teams on the customer side. “They shared feedback on those features that are most important to them from the customer’s perspective—not just what we believe is important,” Millbank said. “We made that very clear to them that we don’t want any sugar coating. They gave us straight answers as to exactly what it is they want and how we can make this experience as seamless as possible. And that’s what drove the project forward and prioritized what features were need- ed to be completed first.”
XGS said customers who are currently using the company’s legacy portal, the original version, will find the transition to the new system to be seamless. For instance, customers can use the same credentials they would normally input to access the legacy portal. However, if clients have any issues, they have access to an online “help center” and a live chat option where technicians are available to provide support when needed. “It was a huge undertaking,” Millbank said. “We really took into account every possible scenario to make sure that process is seamless.”
Right on time
The transition to the new customer service portal was perfect timing for XGS, which has been gradually expanding both the number of its warehousing/logistics centers as well as its national trucking fleet. Along with those acquisitions, for example, XGS inherited tracking systems from the various companies it purchased—something that required a lengthy integration process. With the new portal, the company now has a tool that can connect all those systems and data points.
“The beauty of the technology we’re using is that it allows us to connect into multiple systems and pull information from those systems to display it on one pane of glass for the customer,” Millbank explained. “We don’t have to tell the customer, ‘You need to go here for this information and somewhere else for that.’ We can orchestrate all of that in the background and display it on a silver platter for the customer. Having that capability of leveraging API technology and tying into multiple systems at once on the same screen is very powerful.”