Shipping companies, shippers and freight forwarders are constantly seeking carriers that can give them satisfactory services and competitive freight rates. But with carriers having almost the same freight rates, port rotations and even transit times, service quality is the only thing that can set them apart.
The key elements of service quality are readability and regularity. Shippers feel comfortable when they know they are dealing with carriers they can trust and rely on. Trust is very important in any business. Shippers are reluctant to use carriers whose services are irregular.
Consistent availability of aircraft and ships means that shippers can effectively plan when their shipments will be dispatched and can predict when they will arrive at the destination. However, reliability and regularity are not the only indications of good service
So, what other factors do shippers and freight forwarders consider as a basis for quality service? In other words what areas do they look at in evaluating how good the carriers perform?
The points here are by no means exhaustive, but i shall attempt to outline some of them. Usually, they are the indicators of how high or low a shipper would rate the carriers depending, of course, on their individual requirements. These indicators can also be used, where no alternatives exist, as a guide when negotiating rates and concessions with carriers.
1. Customer Service: This is a key factor in evaluating a carrier. It concerns the way in which customer interacts with the carrier and if he perceives the service to be desirable. Most carriers usually have salespersons in the commercial departments who are often times the first contact with the shippers and freight forwarders. The carrier’s services are rated high if they are able to carry out fast and efficient bookings and processing of documentation within a reasonable time.
2. Credibility: Some carriers are known to be credible while others are not. This can have a strong impact on the minds of shippers and freight forwarders when deciding which carrier to use. How well does a carrier keep to its schedules? Does the carrier follow arrival and sailing dates as published? Sometimes reliability of schedules can be out of the control of carriers due to port connections at origins and destinations. No doubt many shippers will be concerned about all these and may not be happy to face their adverse consequences.
3. A number Of Direct Calls: Services that are offered through feeder vessels are not particularly attractive to shippers. This increases transit time even though in some cases freight can be cheaper. A carrier that has direct calls to major ports is usually prepared by most shipped. It gives the shipper more choices.
4. Competitive Freight Rates: Like any business person involved in commercial transactions, importers, and exporters are always looking for ways to have their goods priced in a very competitive manner. Because of the cost of international transportation is considered critical to the overall cost of the goods, shippers will always look for where it is cheaper.
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