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Customer Experience: A Freight Forwarder Aiming for Service Excellence

Competition in global freight is tougher than ever. New technologies are disrupting the industry, so how do we ensure excellent customer experience, every time?

Competition in global freight is tougher than ever. New technologies and ways of thinking are disrupting the industry at high speed. This challenge can be seen in the recent trend for ocean carriers to form alliances. With almost no notice, these agreements can affect the rates and contracts forwarders have with the carriers, as well as service.

NKD worked with an established freight forwarder that described itself as ‘good’, but championed the goal of being ‘great’. In an age where goods are being moved faster than ever and to anywhere in the world you could think of, our client needed to stand out. They aimed to be the industry leader by 2015 and knew that loyal customers were the key to getting there. Our client wanted a bespoke solution to keep customers coming back. We knew this could only be achieved through an industry-leading level of service excellence, delivered by engaged customer service staff.

What were the challenges?

This ambition would only be achieved if some real issues in the business were addressed. Through our Discovery activities, we found that employees only rated the service they provided a 5.5 out of 10. This swell of opinion was clearly not up to the standard of a market leader. To make matters worse, revenue and employee engagement were also dropping.

Operational and customer excellence was a core pillar of their business. But, this was something that felt more like theory than practice. We knew that industry-leading customer service, delivered by engaged employees, would be the key driver to getting the business back on track.

What was our approach?

The first thing we had to do was create clarity. We found that people had different ideas about what a customer service assistant actually does. We had to make sure that roles, responsibilities and service structures were clear so that customer service agents were enabled to provide the best service possible.

Another core issue was an operational one. The forwarder’s Customer-Centric approach had been replaced by one driven more by efficiency and ticking boxes. Our client’s people felt helpless in stopping customers from choosing competitors because of a weakened customer experience.

We designed a suite of workshops to train over 3000 customer service agents in the skills and mindsets needed to reverse this trend. Participants gained the confidence to talk about the company structure, brand ethos, vision and objectives. They also developed the skills to behave in a more customer-centric way, with a better understanding of customer needs and how to meet them. The fundamental concept behind these workshops was that of consistent quality in service, and we made sure that each person knew how they could contribute to the brand’s customer promise.

Our client wanted to regain the customer-centric culture that had brought them success in the past. This goal could only be achieved if their people engaged with their brand, delivered on the brand promise to customers, and embraced the crucial role they had in keeping this global operation ticking day by day.

Want to learn more about the work we do? Have a look at some of our case studies.