Customer Service Hits New High in Logistics, Distribution

The distribution and logistics industry is steadily improving its customer service, according to a new study from The Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm. The survey assigns a Customer Respect Index (CRI) rating for each company. The CRI measures a customer’s experience when interacting with companies over the Internet.

By interviewing a representative sample of adult Internet users and by analyzing and categorizing more than 2,000 corporate Web sites across a spectrum of industries, The Customer Respect Group identified the attributes that measure the online customer experience. The report analyzed mail, package and freight delivery, trucking and truck leasing, and mail facilitation Web sites to obtain a good sample of the sector. Overall, the transportation, distribution, and logistics industry scored a CRI rating of 7.0 in the fourth quarter of 2005, up from 6.6 in the second quarter. This continues a slow yet consistent trend of steady improvement for the industry. The score moves the industry from fifth position to a joint second with the retail industry, just behind the airline and travel businesses. The improvements, however, are largely concentrated in the mail and package and freight delivery sectors.

The top-scoring firms and their CRI ratings were Overnite Transportation Company, 8.7; Canada Post, 8.0; Purolator, 8.0; United Parcel Service, 8.0; and United States Postal Service, 8.0.

The logistics and distribution industry showed continuing growth in sophistication and an ability to reuse customer information. 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. The industry showed a marginal improvement in the timeliness of e-mail responses, with 61% being returned within a day of receipt, up from 55%, but the general helpfulness of those responses showed a slight decline.

An important move in the right direction, however, has been increased transparency. All the companies studied now make mention of their policies toward personal data, the first time this has been true in the industry. Especially strong is this area are Overnite, UPS, and the United States Postal Service, and according to The Customer Respect Group, “their policies act as good examples of best practices.” Overnite had a perfect score in this area, with the other two companies only slightly behind.

The study’s other findings include the following:

Websites have improved in terms of user-focused functionality such as FAQs, site searches, and site maps. Nearly two-thirds of the sites surveyed now have all three of these functions.

  • Forty-three percent of sites now give a full explanation of why cookies are used.
  • Sixty-two percent now explain how personal information can be updated.
  • All companies have a prominent link to the privacy policy on each page.

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