Transportation companies are getting better at online service

The transportation, distribution and logistics industry – or specifically, motor carriers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) – are getting better at online customer service, according to the Customer Respect Group, a research and consulting group. The industry as a whole scored a 7.0 (out of a possible 10) on the Customer Respect Index, a qualitative and quantitative in-depth analysis and an independent measure of a customer's experience when interacting with companies via the Internet. That’s up from the 6.6 score from the second quarter of 2005.

This continues a slow yet consistent trend of steady improvement for the transportation industry, reports the Customer Respect Group, which studies a number of other industries as well. The score moves the industry from fifth position to a joint second with the retail industry, just behind the airline and travel industry. The improvements, however, are largely concentrated in the mail, package and freight delivery sector.

The websites from five sector firms ranked excellent, including Overnite Transportation Company, Canada Post, Purolator, United Parcel Service (UPS) and the United States Postal Service. These companies have consistently performed well in recent studies and in many ways went against some of the key trends seen across the industry.

The industry showed continuing growth in sophistication and an ability to reuse customer information, especially for ongoing marketing back to the customer base. Much of this marketing is performed without the explicit consent of the customer. One year ago, 33% of companies studied consistently reused information for marketing. Six months ago the figure grew to 42%, and in this study the number has grown to 67%. The reuse of information extended beyond the organization. Nearly a quarter of the companies either share information externally or are ambiguous, up from 16%.

In marked contrast, the leading companies in the study have, for the most part, migrated to an "opt-in" strategy, where there is no reuse of personal information without explicit consent.

Similar findings exist in the area of one-on-one communications. While the level of ignored e-mails remained steady, even showing a slight increase at 23%, the leading companies all exhibited significantly improved levels of service. This seems to demonstrate an increasing gap between companies to manage the increasing capacity of e-mail traffic as customers migrate to email as a preferred communication method.

The industry showed a marginal improvement in timeliness of email responses, with 61% being returned within a day of receipt, up from 55%, but the general helpfulness of those responses showed a slight decline.

A key finding was the improvement in clarity of policies as explained to the customer. Transparency is an important first step to improving customer-orientated policies. All the companies studied now make mention of their policies toward personal data.

The top-scoring sector firms and their CRI ratings were:

Overnite Transportation Company 8.7

Canada Post 8.0

Purolator 8.0

United Parcel Service 8.0

United States Postal Service 8.0

For the complete table, go to www.customerrespect.com

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