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Fuel for Thought

Customer Retention

By Greg Huggins
Posted Nov 1st 2017 12:22PM

Does freight have a memory? Probably not, but customers do. A long time ago I read or heard a phrase that has stuck with me all these years later, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Before hauling freight, I spent many, many years in the moving industry. Moving people’s personal belongings is well, a personal interaction with your customer, in their homes, handling their precious possessions and many can be irreplaceable. When someone decides to hire a mover and goes cheap, they often get what they paid for, cheap service, but most people don’t move very often and may make the same mistake 1, 2 or 5 even 10 years later. On the other hand, they may very well remember their last move and the poor quality of service they received and decide to go with a more reputable, more expensive company for their next move. It is the infrequency of the moves that can either fester in their minds if it was bad, or be a shining example for the future if it was good. It can be years in the moving business before you get a another chance to serve that customer again, if at all.

What does this have to do with freight? Well, freight hauling, especially specialized expediting, may not have the personal attachments from the customer with the goods being shipped, but the frequency and the value is often greater. Many, if not most, customers that need freight hauled, do so daily, weekly, etc., but certainly more frequent that anyone moves from house to house. This greater interaction with the carriers and drivers can escalate or decline your customer’s opinions of your service very rapidly, depending on the level of quality expected versus the level of service received.

Customers needing their freight hauled may look for the lowest price to cut shipping costs, but for special handling, expedited loads, cheap is rarely the answer.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”

So, how long is the customer’s memory? Well it seems to depend on what that memory is. If they are used to getting great quality service, they will notice almost immediately if they level of service declines. If they are used to poor service and it gets better, they will certainly remember if that new level of service were to backslide into its prior bad form.  If they are used to getting poor service and begin to get better service at a premium rate from a different carrier, more often than not, they may return to their low price carrier only to find that they now have higher expectations for the service they require. This is when that bitterness really sets in and they want the premium service they tasted back even though it will cost more, it has greater value to them. The big difference here between freight and household is how quickly these changes can happen, in the freight world, it will not be measured in years, many times it can be measured in days or hours.

“It can take years to gain a customer, but only seconds to lose one”

Value can only be found in the eyes and minds of the customer. Carriers and drivers must be diligent in delivering, not only the freight they haul, but also, at a minimum, in delivering the level of service the customer expects, and to strive to exceed those expectations.


See you down the road,


1 Comment

  • teamcaffee - November 2, 2017
    Very true blog Greg.

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