Aviation Logistics Knowledge Lecture – A Forwarding Agent’s Workflow

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Aviation Logistics Knowledge Lecture – A Forwarding Agent’s Workflow

Hello everyone, when you see this title, you may feel very confused. It has been done for so long, now tell me the process? In fact, sometimes, if we cannot follow a standardized process, it is very likely that there will be a big pit in the back. I believe that everyone does not like to fill in holes, right? So if you can meet the pit ahead of time, isn’t it better to avoid it as soon as possible? So today I will venture to sort out a general process of the freight forwarding company for your reference.


So let’s stop gossip and start our topic today. Let’s look at the next general step first.


First of all, airline personnel will maintain a good and continuous communication with the airline in peacetime. Get the latest prices and positions. And sort out their own contract prices to the sales staff. At the same time, the airline resources at hand, reachable destinations, etc. are all notified in place. Under normal circumstances, many companies will organize an Excel table for sales use, and regularly update the table content.


The salesperson will take this price list, visit the customer, and maintain the existing customer. Of course, you must be familiar with the route resources and prices that you are best at. Or you are very familiar with the routes you are interested in visiting customers, so that you can chat with customers with ease. Otherwise, it would be too unprofessional to search for information every time a customer asks. I have to mention that the responsibility of sales is very important, because customers are in contact with sales from the beginning, so customers will always remember what the sales say, and they will also question the sales if they have any doubts. Sales must be very familiar with the process, and must be flexible. To paraphrase what my former boss told me: the world is not black and white, there are many gray areas. Sales must figure out the gray areas. At the same time, remember to make all the costs clear when quoting, including the possible costs (or actual reimbursement, if there is a fee or no free content), you must explain it to the customer. In this way, if this fee is actually incurred in the future, it can also reduce the trouble of explaining a lot, and at the same time, it can clearly tell the customer the content of the fee.


If it goes well, we may get the booking. After receiving the booking, the salesperson will forward the booking information to the airline according to the previously set price and airline. If the customer’s request is a special price, then the airline has to apply for it with the airline company to see if it can be applied. If you can apply for it, there is no problem. If you can’t apply or the price is not enough, you need to give feedback to the customer and discuss it again to see if you want to take another route or what. Of course, when the price is right, customers will only book.


The next step is to communicate with the airline. If you book a position within the contract, you don’t have to worry about it, just drop a booking and go there. If it is outside the contract, especially the adhoc price that is specially applied for, then even if the price is confirmed, the position must be confirmed again. Generally speaking, adhoc prices are standby positions. If there are regular-priced goods, or high-priced goods, the priority of adhoc must be lower than that of regular-priced goods. There is no doubt about this. Price and position are always proportional, so don’t take chances. I happened to talk about this topic with a friend today. Now, due to the epidemic, many flights have been reduced or even cancelled, resulting in general shortage of positions. At this time, it would be very unreasonable to discuss the price again. After all, the price will change one day if the booking is not placed. Not to mention the situation where one is now hard to find. At this time, talking about money hurts positions, and talking about positions hurts money. Having said that, it is time to offer the following picture again.

The picture comes from the internet

The picture comes from the internet

After the price and position are confirmed, the airline will give the order number to the sales, and the sales will be returned to the customer for inquiry. Although the cargo has not yet flown, the cargo that has been booked will generally be displayed on the airline’s official website. With the development of modern technology, the cargo status of certain airlines can even be checked with the mobile app. It should be noted here that there is usually a gap period after booking the flight and before seeing the flight information on the airline’s official website. This gap period is the process of booking the flight by the airline after receiving the booking. Sometimes airline staff may also be busy with other things and fail to book the space immediately, which also requires the customer’s understanding.


Next, the sales hand over the goods to the customer service (some agents also call this position an operation), and the customer service will check with the customer the name of the goods, the number of pieces, the weight, the warehousing time, etc. If we pick up the goods, please confirm the time and place of pick-up and arrange pick-up. When picking up the goods, also pay attention to check whether the number of goods is correct and whether the packaging is in good condition. Otherwise, the number of pieces should be checked clearly, and the packaging can be loaded before loading. If it is delivery, a delivery instruction will be sent to the customer, so that the customer can directly send it to the secondary warehouse or cargo station.


After the goods arrive at the cargo station, if there is no problem with the packaging, they will go through security inspection, X-ray machine, and then weighing and other series of operations. The cargo station will issue a warehousing paper with specific cargo information written on it. If the package is damaged, it will be repackaged first and then put into the warehouse. Generally, cargo stations will not accept goods with damaged packaging. The reason is very simple. If the customer makes a claim after the goods arrive at the destination, then the responsibility is unclear. At this time, the customer service first goes through the weight and volume of the pieces with the customer, and if the problem is not big, the order (bill of lading) can be issued. If there is a large discrepancy between the information of the goods and the original information provided by the customer, then you must hold the goods first and see where there is a problem before continuing. Therefore, we must reserve enough time in the early stage, and never wait until the last minute to enter the warehouse, otherwise, if there is an unexpected situation, if there is not enough time to deal with it, we will not be able to catch the flight.


The actions of warehousing and placing orders are generally carried out by on-site operations, because these two are coherent actions. After placing the order, the operation must take the bill of lading for the next operation. But before that, the customer service has to get a copy of the bill of lading and check with the customer. At this time, the correct information is the origin, destination, consignee and consignee, airline, date and other information of the goods. After the customer has verified that it is correct, the customer service can notify the operation to proceed to the next step. There are also many agents who will make an electronic version of the bill of lading directly to the customer before the official order is issued. This is also completely possible, or even a better practice, and it can save the trouble of making changes after placing the order.


The next step is customs clearance. If the customer self-declared, then we only need to hand over the bill of lading to the customer’s customs broker. If it is entrusted customs declaration, then we will start to prepare customs declaration materials and carry out customs declaration actions according to the flight time. After customs clearance, it will be delivered by the operator to the acquirer of the cargo station. Then wait for a series of actions such as hitting the board, the plane landing, and the installation.


After confirming that the goods are loaded, the customer service needs to send a notification to inform the customer that the goods have taken off as scheduled, and show the customer a screenshot of the status of the goods. In fact, customers can also check online by themselves, but as a service industry, it is still very necessary for us to provide more intimate services. However, if it does not take off as scheduled, it is necessary to explain the situation to the sales. At this time, the inexperienced customer service lady must not tell the customer by herself, but must talk to the sales first, and then communicate with the customer together. Because there are thousands of reasons for pulling goods, and only the salesperson is most familiar with the customer’s temperament, so it is best to consult the salesperson on how to tell the customer. In addition to communicating the reasons, it is also necessary to confirm with the airline which flight the cargo has been rescheduled, and then tell the customer. After all, if you only tell the situation but not the solution, customers will definitely not buy it. So we think about things more comprehensively. Even if the next flight is not scheduled for the time being, we should tell the customer to try our best to coordinate as soon as possible and strive for the earliest flight out.


After the cargo took off, our work was not over. The customer service should explain to the customer that the goods have arrived at the destination after the goods arrive. We have to have a beginning and an end in what we do, and we can’t be anticlimactic. This will give the customer a good impression, and the next time the customer will think of you first, because of the thoughtful service.


Under normal circumstances, when the goods arrive at the destination airport, our work will come to an end temporarily. Because the transportation method of ordinary air transportation is airport-airport (AP-AP), our task is completed when we reach the destination. But there are also some customers who require DDP and DDU. Then, we will continue to follow up until the goods are delivered to the designated place. If the delivery is also arranged by us, then after the flight takes off and before arriving at the destination, send a pre-alert to the destination agent, and ask them to handle the follow-up customs clearance and delivery service in time.

At this time, the customer service work is completed, and the file can be closed. Organize all the information of this shipment, including booking, communication information, bill of lading, customs clearance, etc., and put them all into a folder for future inquiries. But the job of selling isn’t over yet, and tracking shipping costs. If the new customer pays the full amount before departure, they must receive the money and then arrange the goods. The old customer usually has an account period, so the sales will remind the customer to settle the settlement at a similar time. So the work of sales is from start to finish. A good salesman can find a good entry point to communicate with the customer at any time, so that everything seems so natural.


The above is only the operation process of general goods, and many companies will have different practices. It can’t be said which is the best way. After all, each company’s operating model is different, and only the one that suits you is the best. Speaking of the end, just find the method that suits you in standard mode. If it doesn’t work, change it right away. As the saying goes, the poor will change, and the change will pass.


Well, the content of this issue ends here. If you have any questions, please send me a private message. See you next time.


NB: Karron is the owner of the “NatureCalls” Wechat Official Account.

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