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A core requirement of the third-party logistics provider is working closely with customers to drive continuous improvement, says Menner. "That's relatively easy the first few years, but increasingly difficult over time."
One key tool for enhancing collaboration over the long term is the customer advisory board. Transplace developed its own board seven years ago, having realized that it was lacking “the true voice of the customer,” Menner says.
Brooks, who is serving as the customer advisory board’s fourth president, says the body also aids Philips in its dealings with other 3PLs on a global basis. “When you’re only discussing within your company, it’s a very static view,” he says.
Some boards are less effective in carrying out their stated mission. “This one is really run by the shippers,” says Brooks. “We’re the ones who bring to the table what we want to talk about.” Meetings take place two to three times a year.
A typical session might involve between 12 and 18 shippers. Menner says Transplace has developed a set of specific expectations for determining their most topical challenges, “but the homework is strategic in nature. It’s not heavy lifting – that falls upon the shoulders of Transplace.”
The board discusses a wide range of issues, especially on-time performance records. The ratings draw on detailed reporting capabilities and business intelligence.
While no carriers sit on the board, Transplace strives to obtain feedback from those entities as well, Menner says, especially with regard to what constitutes a favored shipper.
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