Service is the key

Service delivery is a rather overused term and part of daily life in South Africa but, a report on retailing trends by Deloitte shows customer service is one of the top four demands by today’s consumers who are more informed and discerning than ever before.

In the logistics sector, as in other industries, there is a discernible – and unsurprising – link between customer service and bottom-line profitability.

That is why logistics firm Bidvest Panalpina Logistics (BPL) balances operational proficiency with the efficacy of an informed, willing and skilled workforce.


Regional general manager Debbie Beadle says: “We have an excellent quality management system in place at BPL, which immediately alerts management to non-conformance issues in customer service, allowing us to address and resolve them within the shortest possible time frame.”

Owned by services, trading and distribution powerhouse Bidvest, and the local partner of Swiss-owned Panalpina Group, BPL has witnessed remarkable growth over the last 30 years – growth attributable at least in part to the emphasis it places on solid customer service.

“We regularly send out surveys, to our internal workforce and our client base, encouraging ongoing feedback,” says regional general manager Petrus Gerber. “We also hold regular key performance indicator meetings with our staff, encouraging continuous improvement both in terms of people skills and as far as our technology is concerned.”

And where the company’s people are concerned, client feedback is rigorously followed up and appropriate action taken.

“If a customer complains, corrective action is immediately taken to mitigate further frustration or damage,” says Beadle.

Acknowledgement within the wider industry is also important as a yardstick of customer-service delivery, and it’s not by chance that BPL walked away with the PMR Diamond award for this second year running this year.

Studies and statistics have shown time and again unhappy customers act quickly and decisively, wasting no time in taking their business elsewheret. The opposite is also true: happy customers are loyal customers.

“A company is only as good as its reputation, and that reputation should be built on solid customer service,” says Beadle.

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