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Triangle’s latest UK express parcel distribution survey has found customer satisfaction levels continue to decline for UK shippers. In this article, Triangle’s Senior Research Executive, Agustin Marill, considers the results of the 2018 survey. Every year, Triangle Management Services conducts over 900 in-depth telephone interviews with B2B and B2C shippers to produce the UK Domestic Express Parcels Distribution Survey. This year’s survey has shown a worrying decline in overall shipper satisfaction with their chosen delivery partners. But while some carriers have had to say goodbye to some of their long-term contracts, others have been able to welcome new accounts to their portfolios. Factors such as carrier rebranding or even a shift in operational strategy are likely to have influenced customer perceptions of their delivery partners (for good or ill). Our survey has shown that the percentage of respondents that have been with their main carrier for over five years has dropped from 58% to 54% whilst those under a new contract have risen from 4% to 6%. As well as seeing a decline in long-term contracts, there are other key metrics that hint towards higher levels of dissatisfaction and ongoing competitive pressures:

  • The rate of churn rose from 9% from last year’s survey to 15% this year, meaning a higher number of respondents had deliberately stopped using a given carrier.
  • The Net Promoter Index (NPI) score has fallen by 19.3% as respondents were far less likely to recommend their current carrier.
  • The reliance on one single carrier fell by 12%, pointing towards the usage of more than one carrier in order to fulfil the respondent’s shipping needs.

Other survey highlights include: Customer service is key to carrier performance Our respondents chose customer service as the single most important factor when rating carrier performance, ahead of quality of transport, provision of information and even price. Importantly, this is the one rating receiving the lowest performance score, meaning there is a noticeable gap between customer expectation and carrier performance. ‘Economy’ and ‘Same Day’ services on the rise Non time-definite next day delivery is still the most widely used service (over 70% of all parcels sent), but there has been a clear shift towards usage of ‘economy’ 2-3 days and ‘premium’ same day delivery services. Compared with last year, next day delivery fell by 13% (of total parcels sent), whilst 2-3 days delivery service volumes were up by 6% and same day volumes up by 2%. Shippers leveraging a greater variety of service types There has been a distinct rise in the number of service types (same day, next day etc.) being used by shippers. The usage of these different service types has gone up by 34% overall amongst shippers, with higher take up of same day and a timed (pm) next day delivery. A lack of transparency over late and failed deliveries The one single performance factor where carriers seemed to be struggling was regarding a lack of notification when they were either going to be late for a delivery or fail to deliver at all. Historically, this factor has always received the lowest performance score average. This is also reflected in the fact that ‘Provision of Information’ received the second lowest performance (mean) score this year. Rates on the rise? A large proportion of our respondents were expecting a rate increase in 2018. The net price change in 2018 was expected to rise by 2.5%. Almost one fifth of respondents said rates would remain the same. Royal Mail and DHL Express have already announced a rise in rates for 2019, so next year’s survey can be expected to see the effects of this and other rate increases. Lower satisfaction levels Overall, performance scores were lower than last year and the average score for the majority of the factors that make up the ratings has also declined, a sign that carrier performance is falling below shipper expectations. In fact, for all the measured ratings, the only score that improved was for ‘Competitive Price’, another indicator of tougher competition in the market place. Triangle’s View This year’s survey shows that despite the ever-increasing demand for excellence in delivery, the delivery industry as a whole is failing to meet these expectations. A rise in how important shippers consider overall service levels and a rise in the levels of carrier churn, all point towards the fact that shippers are not entirely satisfied with their transport partner’s performance. This is also made evident by the continuous decline in our survey’s NPI score. If you would like to purchase the full survey, please call Agustin Maril, Senior Research Executive on +44 (0)1628 642910 or email [email protected]