The third annual survey by Drewry and ESC found shippers and freight forwarders were least satisfied with the clarity of prices and surcharges.
Shippers and freight forwarders were slightly less satisfied with the quality of container shipping services in 2018 compared to 2017, according to the third annual global shipper satisfaction survey released Monday by Drewry and the European Shippers’ Council.
The average satisfaction rate dropped .1 percent from last year to an average score of 3.1 on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). The respondents — 224 shippers and 14 forwarders or NVOCCs — on average did not rate any of the service attributes above 3.4, and only 4 percent said they were “very dissatisfied” with carrier services and just 6 percent said they were “very satisfied.”
The clarity of prices and surcharges average rating fell from nearly 3.3 in last year’s survey to below 2.8, which ranked the lowest among the 16 service attributes in this year’s survey. Between 8 and 10 percent said the clarity of prices and surcharges was the most important criterion, which ranked fifth among the services.
“It is very clear that clarity of prices and surcharges has become a key topic for shippers and forwarders — particularly medium-sized ones,” said Philip Damas, head of Drewry’s logistics practice. “Starting from the 2018 emergency fuel surcharges and continuing with the current uncertainty over post-IMO 2020 fuel surcharges, we expect the conversation between carriers and shippers to remain ongoing in 2019.
“In the short term, carriers ought to be more transparent in their new BAF matrices and formulae and need to address their customers’ growing needs for predictability and visibility of carrier performance in the long run if they want to reach good levels of customer satisfaction,” he added.
Transit times and the reliability of booking were the second and third lowest rated services, both of which averaged between 2.8 and 3. Transit times tied with the availability of cargo space as the most important criterion with between 14 and 16 percent of respondents rating it first. The reliability of booking remained in third place at a little more than 10 percent listing it as most important.
Shippers and freight forwarders were most satisfied with carrier financial stability, which averaged between 3.3 and 3.4; accurate documentation, which averaged nearly 3.3; and the availability of containers, which averaged 3.2.
About 25 percent said carrier financial stability improved in 2018 compared to 2017, which was the most among the services, and about 10 percent said it worsened. Nearly 20 percent said “green” performance also improved, with less than 5 percent saying it worsened.
Carrier financial stability and “green” performance were ranked the two least important criteria, however, as they received no votes as the most important.
More than 50 percent said the range of different available carriers worsened in 2018 compared to 2017, and more than 40 percent said the same about the range of different available services. Forty percent said the price of service and the overall carrier service quality worsened, but at least 10 percent of respondents said both had improved, while the remainder said they remained the same.
The survey was conducted in March with 70 percent of respondents coming from Europe, 15 percent from North America and 12 percent from Asia.