Page 3: Customer service as strategy
Parcelforce Worldwide operates within the tertiary or service sector. Customer service is important in this sector. This is because many tertiary sector industries provide similar products and services at similar prices. This makes it difficult to compete using a product orientated approach. In these types of markets, it is not easy to adjust the four elements of the marketing mix - product, price, promotion and place - to make a business stand out from its rivals. However, one way to gain an advantage is to offer high quality customer service.
What is customer service?
Customer service means talking and listening to customers. This helps a business anticipate their requirements and respond promptly to any problems. Parcelforce Worldwide does this because it wants to meet or exceed its customer expectations. It aims to be the UK's most reliable high value express carrier.
This customer service focus provides Parcelforce Worldwide with a strong differentiator in the market. This helps it to keep its existing customers and attract new business. The key parts of this customer service are:
- time making sure that deliveries are on time
- visibility letting the customer follow a parcel through online tracking
- after-sales service ensuring that any problems are dealt with courteously and promptly
Parcelforce Worldwide has identified that its organisational structure is a key strength. Its people are essential to supporting quality customer service. For instance, drivers need to work with depot staff so that parcels are loaded in the right order for delivery.
Parcelforce also needs to ensure that services are accessible by all customers. Society is now more diverse, with a larger proportion of the population aged over 60 and with more people from different ethnic backgrounds. For example, Parcelforce Worldwide makes sure that:
- drivers write delivery cards that can be easily read by people with sight problems or by those who do not speak English as a first language
- employees learn the best way of communicating with customers with disabilities, for example, by reading out information or writing it down.
The company also needs to find out what its customers want so that it can provide additional services. It must
- talk to customers, both businesses and consumers
- pilot new products such as online or telephone services
- find out what its customers want who access services through the Post Office network
For example, in this way, Parcelforce Worldwide discovered that some customers were concerned about the affects of carbon emissions on the environment. It therefore offers a 'carbon neutral parcel' option. The customer pays a few pence more to offset the carbon impact of delivering the parcel.
Parcelforce Worldwide takes its corporate social responsibility (CSR) seriously. This means providing benefits for employees, customers and the communities in which it operates. Its CSR programme focuses on health and safety, the environment, supporting local communities and diversity. For example it is:
- reducing the carbon footprint of the business
- supporting local communities through involvement in education
- removing barriers to its services for all customers