Freight News, Sea

Ocean shippers can’t get no satisfaction

[ June 28, 2018   //   ]

Customers are becoming more dissatisfied with the service quality provided by their ocean carriers, according to a joint survey published by the European Shippers Council and analysts Drewry, published on 28 June.

They said in their second annual shipper satisfaction survey that the service provided by container shipping lines has deteriorated since 2016 and is now seen by exporters, importers and freight forwarders as more problematic.

The 400 shippers and forwarders who took part rated the service of container shipping lines with a score of 3.2 on average on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).

Satisfaction with documentation accuracy scored 3.4, but quality of customer service received only 2.9 and transit times and reliability of booking/cargo shipped as booked attracted scores of between 2.9 and 3. Indeed, say the authors, all service features received a poor or medium level of satisfaction score.

Shippers and forwarders also said that carrier performance has deteriorated between 2016 and 2017 in terms of the range of carriers, the range of services, price and overall service quality. But sustainability/green performance and carrier financial stability has improved since 2016.

ESC secretary general Nik Delmeire said: “It is disappointing that, even after the big re-organisation of container services following the start of new alliances, carriers still do not meet the expectations of their customers – on the contrary. At the time of the survey, the carriers’ Emergency Bunker Surcharge, which we regard as customer unfriendly, was not yet in place, and it is reasonable to think that the results of the survey would be worse if it was done now.”

Head of the logistics practice at Drewry, Philip Damas, added: “Shippers and forwarders want a balance between service quality and price, but the survey shows that carriers are cutting back on service and offering less choice to shippers.” said

He said that some Drewry customers actively avoid direct contracts with ocean carriers and instead deal with forwarders and intermediaries in order to receive a higher level of service.

ESC and Drewry gathered satisfaction scores for individual ocean carriers, but they considered that the number of responses was not high enough to justify publicising individual results. The two organisations are calling on industry associations or partners to help scale this initiative to become a large, independent monitoring exercise of service quality by carrier.


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