Customers rate service quality of ocean carriers ‘poor to average.’

According to a survey of exporters, importers and freight forwarders conducted jointly by Drewry and the European Shippers’ Council (ESC), the service provided by container shipping lines is rated as poor to average and has deteriorated in the past year.

The ESC and Drewry contacted several hundred shippers and forwarders from all over the world in March 2017 and asked them how satisfied they were with 16 price and non-price related attributes of the services provided by ocean carriers. The survey also looked at areas most in need of improvement and how quality varies by type of carrier.

The survey showed that on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied), customers on average did not rate carriers higher than 3.3 for any of the 16 service attributes.

The three areas of service or price in which shippers and forwarders were the most dissatisfied with were carrier financial stability, quality of customer service and reliability of booking/cargo shipped as booked. At the other end of the spectrum, the three areas where they were the most satisfied were, price of service, accurate documentation and quality of equipment (containers).

Fabien Becquelin, Maritime Policy Manager at ESC said, “We see that shippers want to be treated not only as customers, but also as partners, when discussing their container transport requirements. In times when supply chains are becoming more and more complex, partnership is of key importance and unfortunately it is missing.”

Philip Damas, head of the logistics practice of Drewry commented, “Shippers and forwarders clearly see the necessity for the carrier industry to invest in IT and to balance the needs for cost competitiveness and for more predictability and reliability.”

The ESC and Drewry plan to run the shipper and forwarder satisfaction survey regularly and invite interested shippers and forwarders to contact them, should they wish to be included in next year’s survey to give their views and be kept informed of carrier performance assessments.