I sell teambuilding games, simulations designed to improve inter-departmental collaboration and leadership and focused on improving different aspects of issues around people and performance. And I did customer service consulting work for nearly 20 years.
So, this all clanged on a recent DHL-assisted shipment to Romania. It is not about the money, since the customer paid for shipping, but it has all been about service quality as well issues of trust and efficiency. It has been well over a month now, and I am still unable to get any facts on why my shipment on January 26, with all the proper documentation and details, was not delivered on time and in an expedient manner, and why I got this from my customer on February 10 (15 days later!):
For the past week I’ve been on the phone with DHL every single day, giving them all the info they required: invoice, payment proof, info of what the package contains, explaining them it’s a game and that I need it asap.
And today they had informed me that Customs needs to know how heavy is the package. So I took the problem in my own hands and called Customs. Guess what they told me… that DHL hasn’t given them any information that they needed – the information I gave DHL last week on Friday… (note: this would be March 3)
So I made a big fuss about it and I managed to convince them to give me the package without that stupid info about how heavy it is. On Monday I am going to drive all the way to customs to get the package, because DHL can’t promise they can sent it to me on Monday – I need it on Tuesday when we have the workshop with the client.
Thank you for all your support you have given us.
Have a great weekend,
(the customer, in need of the shipment to run a scheduled workshop)
Now, that seems pretty clear, right? My customer calls DHL for a week trying to get information about retrieving the box that should have been delivered, since it had all the required information included. (It is not like I do not ship these games internationally for 20 years, you know, and I pack the games with a copy of the shipping label because DHL has had those stripped off the outside of the package before. I also include duplicates of the invoice as well as an unnecessary list of each of the pieces of the game that are included as part of the whole.)
They also had to postpone that workshop, which still has not occurred. That delivery was to pay for a good portion of the game.
My customer clearly says that DHL — not Customs — is holding things up and not providing information that Customs needs to clear the package.
The box, by the way, is clearly marked to contain ONE game and DHL should know how much it weighs along with its size because they bill me for shipping with those numbers, right?
I called DHL Customer service and spoke with Janet English on three or four different calls, each simply to get information as to why the box could not be delivered (firstname.lastname@example.org and 877-292-6031). At no time did what she say align with the comments of my customer. Here was DHL’s actual final written response to my forwarder, who filed a claim for a refund, which was refused:
There were additional details needed in order to clear the shipment with customs. The shipper S. Simmerman opened a trace on February 10, 2017 and information was communicated to DHL Romania. The shipment cleared customs on February 14, 2017 and the DHL courier made the final delivery.
I simply asked them, “WHAT ADDITIONAL DETAILS?” And I never gave them a single piece of information that they did not already have… They simply did not execute, from everything made available to me. Timely delivery was apparently not an important issue for them on a local basis there. (I am reminded of Tom Hanks in Russia for FedEx…)
The information in their response, above, was apparently the information that they then used to refuse a refund. Shipped on January 26th, with the details clearly spelled out in the included invoicing as ONE GAME and the need to know the weight of the package, it was somehow missing something.
In the book Closing Time, Joseph Heller had a quote to explain things like this:
“Nothing made sense, and neither did everything else.”
It would appear that DHL needs to add that as part of its mission statement:
• Our vision is to be The Logistics Company for the World.
• Our mission – Excellence. Simply Delivered. – is our guiding light and we believe that. “Nothing makes sense, and neither did anything else” when it comes to giving customers information.
It seems that the DHL light bulb needs replacement. There is nothing in here about accountability or on-time-delivery or excellence and honesty in responding to customers about issues that are apparently caused by their people and their processes. They share this, but no joy, it cost my customer money and I did not trust their answer about this.
I write this not about getting a refund, but with it being in alignment with my 20+ years of working on issues of customer service quality and the theme of alignment of behavior to missions to goals and expectations. And there is the theme of accountability, that seems to be missing. Clearly, it seems that there is NOT the kind of personal commitment to excellence that they say they are focused on.
It would be of great interest to see a senior manager of DHL actually respond to this blog; there is sufficient data to act on. It would be of great interest if this one small incident might be a factor in the re-evaluation of their commitment to service excellence and accountability. I understand that Janet English is in a difficult position, but I also know that there were things that could have occurred within the overall followup that did not occur.
Accountability, Breakfast of Champions.
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Learn more about Scott at his LinkedIn site.
Also published on Medium.