Executive Briefings

Rethinking CRM: Social Media at a 3PL

For some time I've been promoting the potential value of social media technologies like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in supply chain management. This is why C.H. Robinson's announcement in February about TMC Connect caught my attention. Simply put, TMC Connect is a private social media site for CHR customers that includes a blog, discussion forums, content library, and the ability for customers to connect and communicate with each other (similar to how you "friend" someone in Facebook or link to them via LinkedIn).

I was given a demo of TMC Connect a few weeks ago, and although the site has only been live since December and customers are still learning how to use it, I was very impressed with what I saw. While other 3PLs and software vendors have launched blogs in the past year or so, mainly for marketing and brand visibility purposes, this was the first time I have seen a logistics company combine blogging functionality with Facebook/LinkedIn-like capabilities to facilitate collaboration and networking between customers.

Social media is the next evolution of customer relationship management in the logistics industry.

Customers complain that their 3PLs aren't proactive enough in identifying continuous improvement ideas and opportunities. Operational excellence is a given these days, it's the cost of entry, what gets a 3PL invited to the dance. What customers also want from their 3PLs, what they expect, are insights-about industry trends, best practices, business threats and opportunities, and ideas/solutions for how to respond to these trends. What C.H. Robinson is doing with TMC Connect is a step in this direction.

Are you still a skeptic about the role of social media in supply chain management? Some of your competitors are hoping so.

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For some time I've been promoting the potential value of social media technologies like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in supply chain management. This is why C.H. Robinson's announcement in February about TMC Connect caught my attention. Simply put, TMC Connect is a private social media site for CHR customers that includes a blog, discussion forums, content library, and the ability for customers to connect and communicate with each other (similar to how you "friend" someone in Facebook or link to them via LinkedIn).

I was given a demo of TMC Connect a few weeks ago, and although the site has only been live since December and customers are still learning how to use it, I was very impressed with what I saw. While other 3PLs and software vendors have launched blogs in the past year or so, mainly for marketing and brand visibility purposes, this was the first time I have seen a logistics company combine blogging functionality with Facebook/LinkedIn-like capabilities to facilitate collaboration and networking between customers.

Social media is the next evolution of customer relationship management in the logistics industry.

Customers complain that their 3PLs aren't proactive enough in identifying continuous improvement ideas and opportunities. Operational excellence is a given these days, it's the cost of entry, what gets a 3PL invited to the dance. What customers also want from their 3PLs, what they expect, are insights-about industry trends, best practices, business threats and opportunities, and ideas/solutions for how to respond to these trends. What C.H. Robinson is doing with TMC Connect is a step in this direction.

Are you still a skeptic about the role of social media in supply chain management? Some of your competitors are hoping so.

Read Full Article