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www.thetimes100.co.uk

Customer service as a strategy
Introduction
Parcelforce Worldwide is part of the Royal Mail Group Ltd. Royal Mail Group has three main operating brands: • The Post Office Ltd provides counter services to the high street customer • Royal Mail manages the delivery of letters and packets • Parcelforce Worldwide provides express parcel delivery services for businesses andconsumers. Parcelforce Worldwide has over 30,000 business customers in the UK. It handles 200,000 parcels a day. It has a turnover of £382 million. In 2006-07, revenues grew by 7.3% over the previous year. With its 23 partners across 30 European countries and access to Postal Administrations through the Universal Postal Union. It operates: • Business to Business (B2B) services, delivering parcelsand supplies from companies to other companies • Business to Consumer (B2C) services, delivering parcels to individuals in their homes around the UK. Parcelforce Worldwide competes in a free or unregulated market. A free market is open to all. Any company can choose to operate in the market and customers can choose any supplier they wish. Suppliers therefore need to provide good value for money tokeep customers and win new business. In 2002, Parcelforce Worldwide was making a loss. In response, those managing the business decided to change the type of service it offered. Instead of unguaranteed parcel deliveries typically taking between two and four days, Parcelforce Worldwide decided to focus on time and day guaranteed, express delivery. This resulted in a reduction of the number ofparcels handled (volume) but increased the value of each delivery to Parcelforce Worldwide. As a result of these changes, Parcelforce Worldwide also increased operational efficiency. The business: • reduced the number of staff it employed • closed some of its depots • opened a new, technologically advanced sorting centre in Coventry. These changes enabled Parcelforce Worldwide to achieve its financialtargets. It turned a loss-making business into a profitable one. However, it recognised that more could be done to improve efficiency. The business sought to improve staff attendance rates. It wanted to cut absenteeism – staff taking unauthorised or sick leave – and reduce the time lost as a result of accidents at work. To do this, Parcelforce Worldwide introduced a more decentralised approach tomanagement. This gives depot managers greater decision-making accountability to improve the effectiveness of the operation in their local area. Most companies operating in the express parcel delivery market offer similar services. Parcelforce Worldwide remains competitive by differentiating itself in other ways. The business has developed a unique selling proposition (USP) based on high-qualitycustomer service.

CURRICULUM TOPICS • Business strategy • Customer/Product orientation • Gap analysis • Key performance indicators

GLOSSARY Brands: names, symbols or designs used to identify specific products and to differentiate them from competitors. B2B: used to describe transactions between companies. B2C: used to describe transactions between a business and consumers. Unregulated market:a market open to competition between suppliers. Value: benefits added to the product or service in process for the end user. Decentralised: authority delegated by dividing the organisation into several units, each responsible for its own performance and decisions. Differentiating: to distinguish a business from its competitors. Unique selling proposition (USP): specific benefits of a product orservice that competitors do not or cannot offer.

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This customer-orientated approach is designed to attract and retain key customers. Parcelforce Worldwide works in partnership with customers, such as the UK’s examination boards, to develop and deliver services to meet specific needs. During exam season, Parcelforce...
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