Customer service is the weak spot in the parcel dropshop model
Over the last few weeks I have been utilising the full range of couriers and carriers as I sell a few bits and bobs online.
There’s lots to like about the drop off shop concept embraced by several courier brands. Firstly, it is very competively priced. It’s not hard to get a sub 3 quid price for a parcel weighing a couple of kilorams.
There’s also a lot to like about the flexibility. It’s very handy to be able to drop off dispatches at weekends and well into the evening on weekdays.
And, needless to say, it can be very convneient if you have a dropshop very close to where you live, work or drop the kids off at school or whatever.
But the one thing that has struck me as I’ve used these services is that is that it’s never a seamless, easy experience.
Dropping off a parcel yesterday at a national chain of small shops, I waited in line for quite a while and then there was a bit of scrabbling around for the handset, a bit of confusion from the member of staff about what to do, and in the end we got there.
Not a big deal but hardly flawless. But better than in one shop where the assistant told me to wait until the queue of “paying customers” was dealt with before taking my parcel.
But by far the worst was the chaotic and shabby corner shop I used where the monosyballic gentleman behind the jump seemed to genuinely begrudge taking the parcel from me.
Now, maybe all this is fair enough and I shouldn’t expect champagne service on a big budget. But the sending experience has slightly dented my enthusiasm for these couriers and the service they offer. Or rather the service that others offer on their behalf.
There does seem to a large gulf in customer service at drop shops, some are useless and others are great.
Also at my local crown post office if you are sending parcels they are now making people use the Post & Go machines rather than go to the counter (as they haven’t replaced the staff who took voluntary redundancy). The machines are quite a hassle to use when you’re sending a lot of parcels at once, so I now print all my postage online and drop them off at the PO and although many of the staff are happy to take my parcels (in between fixing & helping people work the Post & go machines), the manager has refused once to take my pre paid parcels because he was too busy with other things, meaning I had to go to another PO, so I would say customer service is a problem with all postage options, as my local crown PO now seems more interested in selling financial products rather than dealing with parcels. Has anyone else had this problem with the Post Office?
It could be argued that the shop keeper is representing the courier and service should be consistent and to a high standard as it is the only face the customer ever sees. It would be interesting to view the terms and conditions that the shop keeper signs and the training that they have before gaining drop off status.
If you are unhappy with the drop off point then why not feed this back to the courier?
On the other hand does the standard of the drop off service matter if the tracked package gets from A to B in a timely manner and without any damage?
Surely the problems experienced are exactly what could be expected with any new system,. The Couriers sign up numerous existing businesses to be their representatives. Some really know and care for the task they have taken on. Others are not so good and of course the poor standards of some members of staff could be that after the initial training they have not seen any\many customers and have forgotten most of the training.
Over time the Couriers will check up on their ‘drop shops’. Feedback from customers will be very useful in providing the couriers with details of problems. Then over the next days, weeks and months the Couriers can either work with the shops to up standards or if the shops just do not show any sign of wanting to improve..drop them and replace them in that part of town with a shop that is interested in providing a good service.
Then in a few months hopefully the whole system will work to everybodies satisfaction.
But what about Rural Britain. It might work in a large town or city but what about a small village? For a system to really work it needs mass coverage. Not just covering London, or Brighton, or Birmingham but also Little Villages.
I have delt with 5 local parcel shops; 2 for Collect+, 2 for UPS and one for MyHermes. I have experienced all the things mentioned here to some degree but in the main the service is polite and efficient. Just one is consitantly bad with a bad attitude and a lot of messing about. Any wait to get served however has been a fraction of what I experience at my local Post Office. I’m most often served within 2 mintutes and frequently just seconds.
So all in all I think this is a very minor issue. Other issues such as unintelligible tracking, delays and unreliability of service are much more important. MyHermes lost one parcel I sent + one sent to me.