10 June 2019

Why are the right people so important in a logistics partnership?

In a world where AI and technology are at the forefront of disruption and efficiency discussion, why you should be looking for the ‘human element’ in your logistics partnership.

The ‘human element’ in your logistics partnership

In a world where AI and technology are at the forefront of disruption and efficiency discussion, Susan Beling, Chief Operating Officer at efm Logistics, believes that human capital is still the key to building strong and enduring logistics partnerships. She explains why you should be looking for the ‘human element’ in your logistics partnership.

At the core of most successful businesses there will be a stable, secure and scalable technology platform that provides meaningful data and insights. But this is only the first cog to delivering an unmatched logistics experience. The secret lies in having the right people analysing the data, identifying more efficient and cost-effective ways of serving markets, implementing these findings in the most seamless manner, and finally complementing all of the above with exceptional customer service. As Susan explains,

“A logistics partner needs to be technology-enabled, but at the heart of the service offering are its people. When it comes to our own business at efm, it is through our people and their relentless passion for our customers that we differentiate from the pack.”

How do people fit into the logistics equation?

In an effective logistics partnership, people and process come together harmoniously, and quite simply, one cannot exist without the other. Your organisation’s logistics partner needs to be an extension of your business – a central part of the team and a trusted advisor - so they can quickly and accurately assess where improvements might be made.

“We’re talking about a really important change management process, one with significant implications across the whole supply chain,” she continues in reference to the process of introducing a logistics partner into a customer’s operations. “Therefore, it is really important for a logistics partner to work with the customer to find intelligent solutions and provide the ongoing value that drives operational efficiency through continuous improvement. This is something that must be provided with a human touch.”

“A logistics partner should provide tangible value, commercially and operationally. This should be a transparent outcome across the organisation and one which is measurable within the supply chain. Influencing that is a very human skill. It is then about identifying any issues, and proactively resolving them in order mitigate risk to the customer’s business – another responsibility best performed by people.”

Once the logistics partner has a deep understanding of the supply chain profile – the specific industry nuances as well as opportunities to optimise – then a solution can be designed that's specifically tailored – a bespoke solution to meet the customer’s needs. To highlight an example of where ‘the power of human to human’ specifically comes into play, Susan talks about ‘intelligence gathering’, so to speak, relying heavily on collaboration, listening and understanding – innate human traits that machines aren’t best suited to.

“A logistics partner should be able to work physically on-site embedded within the customer’s operation, invest time understanding their specific market needs, as well as work across key departments impacted by the supply chain, and finally work collaboratively to implement the solution,” she explains. “A logistics partner should also be looking at their customer’s own customer service solutions, and the performance across their warehousing and logistics functions as well. Human input is far more intuitive in this case.”

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What are the advantages of people versus machines?

Any logistics partner with a strong focus on talent is going to have an advantage over those that direct their priorities elsewhere. Even in this machine age, such a statement is fact.

“People can look at the supply chain with a high level of importance, a sense of urgency,” says Susan. “People understand that supply chain efficiency has a direct correlation to the sales line, and so the performance of the supply chain can make or break that sales line.”

As for communication, collaborating with customers means not just hearing from your logistics partner when something is not going to plan. Communication channels need to remain open and structured, giving the customer comfort that their supply chain is in safe hands.

“It’s about seeing yourself as an extension of a customer’s business; as an important conduit between their sales line and their supply chain,” she explains. “By doing this, you’re ensuring the customer stays ahead of the curve, communicating, for example, where a potential issue may arise, or an opportunity may present itself.”

Creating single points of contact also enables higher customer service levels. While more and more businesses consider artificial intelligence (chatbots, for example) as the way forward, a healthy logistics partnership, according to Susan, comes from creating relationships with a human element.

“All communication should be handled by an expert in that area. Customer service should be dedicated, account management should be dedicated, operations management should dedicated… By dealing with someone who not only has a really deep understanding of a customer’s business, but who also translates the information in a simplified way, everything is made easier from the customer's perspective.”


Logistics relationships that last are underpinned by one dominant factor: smart, passionate people working in partnership with an effective, intuitive technology platform.

People are the link that make the technology powerful, and that ensure responsiveness and accountability within a supply chain. Your business should settle for nothing less.

Want to know more about how efm Logistics brings people and technology together?

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