C.H. Robinson Leveraging AI Tools to Answer Email Requests for Quotes

C.H. Robinson Worlwide CHRW on Tuesday provided details on a technological milestone it touched on during its first-quarter earnings call last week.

The 3PL said it now processes 2,000 customer quote requests daily via email for 2,268 customers using a sophisticated large-language model. This AI technology, trained extensively on vast data sets, enables the company to efficiently recognize and generate text or email response back to customers.

"Before generative AI, replying to that email request defied automation. Customers had to wait for a human just to pass along a quote from our Dynamic Pricing Engine. Now, our new technology reads the email and supplies the quote in an average two minutes 13 seconds" said Mark Albrecht, vice president for AI, in a news release.

The Eden Prairie, Minnesota-headquartered company said it receives over 11,000 emails from customers and carriers daily. Eliminating the back-and-forth for Robinson's customer reps can leave employees more time to find better freight opportunities while driving yield.

The model is equipped to distinguish between various types of quote requests, whether truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal or airfreight. At present, it can only respond to truckload inquiries, but C.H. Robinson is working on extending the technology to accommodate LTL and expedited freight pricing as well.

"The good news for our customers is that they still get what they need using email, while our supply chain experts are freed up to do work that's higher value for them, our customers and our company's growth" Chief Operating Officer Arun Rajan said in the release.

Megan Orth, the senior director of connectivity at the 3PL, also shared with FreightWaves Robinson's strategic vision for advancing the technology in the future.

"We're enabling more customers every week to get AI-generated replies to their spot quote requests, which we know will be especially valuable when the market turns. When capacity is tighter, route guides fail more often and more freight falls into the spot market" she explained in an email.

"But that's just one use of this tech. The true beauty of it is that it opens the door to automate virtually any type of email transaction. It can be trained to recognize any type of email, as long as we receive enough of those emails for the model to learn from, and we can also train it to classify emails in multiple ways."

C.H. Robinson technology investments

C.H. Robinson's technology strategy has adapted throughout the years amid rising competition. Once holding exclusive access to information and fleets, it struggled against emerging brokers and advancing technology.

Despite a $1 billion investment in 2019, including restructuring compensation and reducing expenses, retaining market share proved challenging. With declining margins and heightened competition, C.H. Robinson faces an uphill battle in the freight brokerage market.

Hence, during the company's Q1 earnings call, Rajan spoke on the benefits of this technology and what it means to shareholders.

"Our efforts are increasing the digital execution of critical touch points in the life cycle of an order from quote to cash, thereby reducing the number of manual tasks per shipment and the time per task. This translates to productivity improvements measured in terms of shipments per person per day, which creates operating leverage" he explained. "As we deliver further process optimization and an improved customer experience, we plan to deliver the compounded cost structure benefits of additional 2024 productivity improvements of 15% in [core brokerage business North American Surface Transportation] and 10% in Global Forwarding with technology that supports our people and processes."

The post C.H. Robinson leveraging AI tools to answer email requests for quotes appeared first on FreightWaves.

Market News and Data brought to you by Benzinga APIs
Actual EPS
EPS Surprise
Actual Rev
Rev Surprise
Posted In: EarningsNewsMarketsTechTrading IdeasAIcontributors
Benzinga simplifies the market for smarter investing

Trade confidently with insights and alerts from analyst ratings, free reports and breaking news that affects the stocks you care about.

Join Now: Free!