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The logistics of customer service

According to a 2018 report on retailing trends by global management consulting firm Deloitte, customer service is one of the four most important things young consumers look for in a retail experience (along with quality, sustainability and omnichannel).

It’s therefore not surprising that in the logistics sector there’s a discernible link between customer service and bottom-line profitability. Logistics firm Bidvest Panalpina Logistics (BPL) provides a case study in how an emphasis on customer service can create a competitive advantage.

Listening to what customers have to say about their experiences with the company, and keeping current where both personnel development and technology are concerned, are key considerations.

“We have an excellent quality-management system in place at BPL, which immediately alerts management to non-conformance issues in customer service, allowing us to address and resolve them within the shortest possible time,” says regional general manager, Debbie Beadle.

“We regularly send out surveys to our internal workforce and our client base to encourage ongoing feedback,” adds regional general manager Petrus Gerber. “We also hold regular key performance indicator meetings with our staff to enhance continuous improvement in terms of people skills and technology.”

Client feedback is rigorously followed up with BPL staff and appropriate action is taken. If a customer has shared a compliment, the staff member involved will be praised and encouraged to uphold their great attitude and service.

BPL’s efforts paid off earlier this year when it received the Diamond award for this second year running. Maria du Preez, new business development director at BPL, regards established awards like these “as an opportunity for any entrant to seriously evaluate the customer service aspect” of their company. “For us, it’s an important barometer,” she says

Studies and statistics have shown time and again that customers act quickly and decisively, and waste no time in taking their business elsewhere if they’re unhappy with the service they receive.

The opposite is also true: happy customers are loyal customers. From a bottom-line perspective, improving repeat business from existing clients is often easier and more profitable, as businesses save on the time, cost and effort of finding new customers.

Beadle concludes: “A company is only as good as its reputation, and that reputation should be built on solid customer service.”

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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