A Tale of two Companies

Can you afford to screw up Customer Service in a post-pandemic world?

With the growing e-commerce industry, more so in the post-pandemic world today, the need for logistics and shipping services is one bright spot with many other industries like cruise and airlines being hit hard. With many organizations moving toward online platforms, the growth is opportunities are there.

Here in Malaysia, the growth of smaller start-up shipping companies is testament to the growth of online and delivery services – from merchandise to food and groceries. So here’s a tale of supposedly a global shipping and logistics company tripping up – hard.

I ordered some produce on Saturday which was shipped on Monday. Nothing unusual except that the distance to my home was approximately seven kilometers – within the same town basically – Petaling Jaya to Petaling Jaya. With the hub and spoke model, DHL picked up the package, moved it to the Kuala Lumpur sorting hub where it spent one day idle before it was sorted and sent to the Petaling Jaya hub. While waiting for the sorting, it was a public holiday so basically everything stopped for another extra day.

I cannot believe in today’s speed of execution, everything online, just-in-time manufacturing that a company would spend one business day per action. Pick-up, move to Central hub, sort, move to distribution hub, sort, and delivery. A total of six working days! With the dramatic growth and load upon shipping companies, I was expecting 2-3 business days at maximum. Many smaller logistics companies do it with interstate shipping within 3-4 business days. This was basically an intercity package.

In a post-pandemic world where the shift and change accelerated to an unexpected proportions, many businesses are finding themselves at the brink of extinction. So to add to DHL’s injury, their chat line went unanswered and the phone support after a significant wait, gave me a scripted answer – that is the process. “We need to sort at hubs before delivery.” Polling my friends and colleagues gave an interesting answer – the local postal services courier option which used to be the mockery of inefficiency and errors gave better service!

Let’s contrast that with Apple. Also another global company although you may argue that they are on a totally different level compared to DHL.

They don’t have a Malaysia presence so I had to go through a local authorized service partner. The experience with online chat support, online diagnostics and finally to service appointment was seamless. Yes, the wait times were long but with everyone working from home, it is to be expected but it was managed well. That is also another key – manage your customer’s expectations or we will fail you.

After I handed in my Apple device for service, I got an email with the status which was updated daily, even on a Friday evening and Saturday. Repair was progressing so I would vouch for Apple’s service. If you ask me how I would ship a package, you know by now that I would not be asking you to go to DHL.

So, it is a literal tale of 2 opposing customer experiences – one rather awful and another pretty good. Personally, I usually stick with a brand that delivers good customer service. It is the same as other products and services I use also. When I was producing video content for several large companies, I found Canon’s support and service excellent. The outcome of this incident is prove that customer experience matters.

In Malaysia, there are now many start-up and smaller boutique delivery and logistics services companies serving niche and specialized e-commerce. So when a larger company stumbles, these smaller, agile competitors now have an opening. So I think all organizations need to pay heed to customer experience. If you stumble, there is definitely someone else waiting to pounce. So, if you need help to manage customer service and customer experience, it may be the strategically the correct thing to outsource and partner with organizations that can help you do customer experience well.