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Human Resources



Winning people before winning customers

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A Mateen, VP of HR at DHL Express Southeast Asia, asks if you’re are focusing enough on your employees so they are able to give their best to customers.

The famous slogan “The customer is always right” resonates more and more among companies these days as they recognise the true meaning of customers being the life blood for any business. In view of the intense competition faced, what makes one company more successful than another and more importantly, what did these companies do to make their customers tick?

Operating in a highly competitive environment, one important factor that ensures sustainable competitive advantage in the logistics industry is the people. As third party logistics (3PLs) providers have to work increasingly closer with their customers to develop deeper and more collaborative relationships, the interaction that customers experience at each touch point, from calling the customer service hotline to meeting with the sales representatives and the deliveries made by couriers, are determining factors when evaluating logistics partners.

Starting from within

There is often a common misconception that the role of customer service is all about complaints handling and manning reception desks. The truth of the matter is that our customer service team functions as an essential communication gateway for our customers.

Operating in the service industry, employees need to demonstrate a thorough and accurate knowledge of all services offered. Training is a vital cog in developing a highly competent and effective organisation and we invest substantially in improving the staff service levels through the innovative Certified International Specialist (CIS) learning and development programme.

As a change management initiative, the award-winning programme has been instrumental in instituting a cultural transformation within DHL Express as well as providing greater clarity and understanding of the business objectives by reinforcing the company’s international market leadership. Specifically to the customer service team, all employees will have to go through quarterly training including soft and technical training conducted internally by our own customer service trainers.

Building a motivated team

Good customer service offers the intangible human element that cannot be replaced by technology and automation. We are no stranger to the concept of providing good customer service. It has always been a major focus and the company takes a proactive approach towards addressing our customer needs and issues.

Businesses have to understand that employees are the foundation for the success of any company, and having a motivated and engaged team will translate to engaged customers. Employees need to be empowered to share their own ideas, skills, experience and opinions to help shape the development as well as drive innovation of the company.

At DHL, we work as a team and are focused on doing things right the first time. Active leadership is key to fostering a cohesive working environment. Leaders walk the talk by continuously demonstrating the company’s core values while motivating others to do the same. Customer service managers and supervisors conduct regular coaching and feedback sessions for team members who are faced with challenges at work. They adopt an open door policy so that team members know they are always welcome to approach their managers or supervisors.

Staying connected as a team

The importance of team camaraderie should never be underestimated, particularly for a customer service team who operates in a round-the-clock and high-stress environment. We understand and recognise the importance of each team member in achieving overall service excellence, hence boosting morale and promoting teamwork are important parts of DHL’s employee engagement initiatives. Operating as a network, best practices are shared and adopted when the customer service teams from various countries within the network pay us a visit.

Globally, DHL holds the annual Customer Service International Week celebration within the network of over 220 countries, where the company recognises the unsung heroes who make a difference by proactively addressing customer needs, taking ownership and going the extra mile during interactions with our customers. The week-long celebration also serves as a reminder to the customers of DHL’s commitment to customer satisfaction. As the idiom goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – such team building activities are organised where the entire team can let their hair down and just enjoy each other’s company.

Finding the winning formula

Competition within the logistics industry will only intensify and having a robust customer service will be instrumental in value adding to the customers. To deliver high-quality services, it is necessary for companies to invest in people, processes and technology.

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