Drewry: Container Shipping Customer Service Deteriorating


In a collaborative report between maritime consultant Drewry and the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) has found that customers are dissatisfied with the service quality of ocean carriers.

The joint survey revealed that the 400 shippers and forwarders rated the service of container shipping lines with a score of 3.2 on average — on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).

Over a range of 16 different carrier activities different levels of satisfaction were logged — satisfaction with documentation accuracy scored 3.4, but the quality of customer service scored 2.9, and transit times and reliability of bookings scored between 2.9 and 3.

All the service features, in effect, received a poor or medium level of satisfaction score from customers.


Source: Drewry-ESC shipper satisfaction survey 2018


Shippers and forwarders also commented that carrier performance had significantly deteriorated between 2016 and 2017 in four distinct areas: the range of different available carriers, the range of different available services, the price of service, and the overall carrier service quality.

However, carrier performance related to sustainability and green financial stability was rated as being improved since 2016.


Source: Drewry-ESC shipper satisfaction survey 2018


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Secretary General of the ESC, Nik Delmeire, commented: “It is disappointing that, even after the big re-organization of container services following the start of new alliances, carriers still do not meet the expectations of their customers – on the contrary.

“At the time of the survey, the carriers’ Emergency Bunker Surcharge, which we regard as customer unfriendly, was not yet in place, and it is reasonable to think that the results of the survey would be worse if it was done now.”

The ESC has called for carriers to meet their customers to discuss service and operational issues, something that has already successfully occurred in the European rail freight sector, instead of resorting to new cost surcharges.

Head of the logistics practice at Drewry, Philip Damas, said: “Shippers and forwarders want a balance between service quality and price, but the survey shows that carriers are cutting back on service and offering less choice to shippers.”

The full report can be downloaded on Drewry’s website.

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