How to Spot Great 3PL Customer Service from an Org Chart

October 4, 2022 by Amware Fulfillment

If you want to find an eCommerce fulfillment partner that prioritizes great 3PL customer service, look for the box marked “Vice President of Client Success.” Then make sure the upward line goes direct to the CEO. If the chart indicates that customer service reports to operations, make a beeline for the door.


Why Should Customer Service Report Directly to the CEO?

3PL-customer-service-featuredMost third-party logistics providers (3PLs) structure their organizations with customer service reporting up through operations. In doing so, they literally make customer service a second-tier priority.

In today’s service-focused economy, consumers do business with companies that care about them – their satisfaction, their success.

What’s true in retail and fast food is just as true when it comes to business services like eCommerce fulfillment. It’s a telltale sign of a 3PL that’s behind the times if they aren’t prioritizing customer service. The realities and concerns of the customer must be delivered to the very top of the organization, unfiltered. Having customer service report directly to the CEO is the way.


Customers Like Having an Advocate Onsite

For a customer of a fulfillment 3PL, having an empowered customer service rep brings comfort knowing there is someone at the warehouse thinking about their business and acting as part of the customer’s team. Someone who knows the brand, its products and its priorities can be an informed advocate within the 3PL’s operation.

Leslie Barton, VP of Client Success at Amware Fulfillment, reports directly to the CEO. She sees her company-wide team of 80 as an extension of the voice of the customer all the way to the top. “This direct reporting relationship makes customer needs the central emphasis of the business, around which everything else revolves,” she says.

Operations and customer service units within a 3PL share the same ultimate goals of client and company success. But they have very distinct roles in achieving those goals.

Maintaining a customer service focus and allowing that focus to go up the chain of command outside of operations helps the CEO balance the operational requirements of running a profitable business with the requirements of keeping customers happy.


What’s the Problem with Customer Service Reporting to Operations?

The voice of the customer is too important to allow it to be passed second-hand to the top.

Drawing from the example of car dealerships, ownership needs to know what the customer experience is like because it directly affects the number of cars sold. If customer service reports up through sales and the top sales executive is responsible for passing customer feedback to business owner, that executive may downplay survey findings like “salespeople were rude and uninformed” because it makes her and her team look bad. But the owner needs to know the facts from the customer’s perspective to fix any problems that exist.

Likewise, 3PL CEOs need facts that enable them to make customers happy. But as information moves up a 3PL’s chain of command through operations, the customer’s original concern can get lost if operations paints a different picture of an issue’s root cause.

When this happens, there’s a good chance the CEO will base decisions on the operational viewpoint received. There are the moments when customer service needs the ear of the CEO.


The Advantages of 3PL Customer Service Reporting Directly to the CEO

  • Early involvement: Informed CEOs can get involved before issues escalate.
  • Clean perspective: Keeping customer success separate from operations preserves unfiltered details that aid root cause analysis.
  • Support for operations: By taking customer calls and requests off operations’ plate, the operations team can focus on what they do best – run superior pick and pack fulfillment operations
  • Customer experience focus: CEOs can stay in touch with the realities of the customer experience through the people directly in touch with them every day.
  • Validation: Giving customer service a seat at the head table makes a statement, internally and externally, that 3PL customer service and customer happiness are top priorities.


Distinct 3PL Customer Service and Operations Functions Results in Deeper Collaboration

In a customer-success focused 3PL, operations and customer service partner closely while maintaining separate and equal voices. There’s balance, Barton explains.

“We're supporting the clients, but we're also supporting operations. Even though we're separated in reporting into the CEO, that partnership is critical to the business,” she says.

Being an effective go-between with operations requires Client Success team members that are fully informed about the processes and intricacies of the work performed in the warehouse.

The client success team must understand what warehouse associates do and the time, effort, expertise and resources required to do the job. Otherwise, they can't make confident promises to clients, collaborate effectively with their teammates, or provide realistic updates.

In addition to having a direct line to the CEO, Amware Client Success team members train on the pick line and throughout the warehouse in a formal program designed to promote teamwork and empathy.


Make Client Success Your Priority When Interviewing 3PLs

When looking for a prospective partner for eCommerce fulfillment, brands can determine how strong a line they’ll have to the CEO by posing these questions. The answers will provide a clear indication, not just of a 3PL’s commitment to your success, but also its capacity to deliver great 3PL customer service.

  • Does the head of customer service report directly to the CEO?
  • Who will I be working with directly on a daily basis?
  • What are the 3PL’s standards for response time by phone and email?

A 3PL’s commitment to your company’s success is not enough. You need a day-to-day advocate within the 3PL organization to successfully grow. Because in today’s world, the 3PL customer service you receive determines the customer service you can deliver to your own customers.

Do you need better customer service from your 3PL? Let’s talk.

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Filed Under: Fulfillment Operations