The UK has recently sold off a huge part of its postal service from state ownership so that the Post Office can more easily raise funds to equip itself in the modern era of logistics. So what does this modern era consist of? Well the it is heavily reliant on the use of Global Positioning Systems GPS and things would be much more difficult to deliver properly if there had been no invention of the humble postcode and the ubiquitous nature of communications means that there is the possibility to contact the driver of a vehicle either by text of voice to redirect because of traffic or to pick up an emergency parcel. No one can say that the use of technology isn’t amazing, see UPS video it is integrated and highly organised.
The use of the internet and barcodes to track your package is amazing. All the major logistics companies use this technology. Most of the time the parcels are only handled at the last minute the rest is done by robots. So we can see that if there was a shining example of the way technology is used in the real world this is the one. However as i always say fro every up there is a down and there is a massive down side with the idea of logistics worldwide. What is it I head you say tell me where this wonderful model of technology and human enterprise has a flaw, well. Lets take a hypothetical example based on an original experience… Someone know that they have a parcel arriving but they don’t know when. They obtain the tracking number and use an online tracking service to pinpoint the exact location of the depot where the parcel is being held awaiting the payment of custom charges. All fine so far. The person then wants to pay the custom charges so that the parcel can be released and put on a van which will deliver the parcel no problem so far I hear you say!
But no there is a problem, the day is Saturday ( or Sunday). That is no problem you say the parcel is being delivered by a Worldwide 24/7/365 day a year company who have the latest logistics technology deployed from driver to depot to hub to……. but no the one thing they do not have is anyone to answer the phones in fact their business hours are 9-5 Monday to Friday.
The saga gets worse as come Monday morning the user contacts the customer services and says they would like to pay the duty on the parcel so that it can be delivered, the human cannot take payments it has to be done automatically through a secure service. That is fair enough as we want our cards secure when doing transactions. Once the payment is made the person is returned to the operator and they ask for a receipt for the money that has just been paid. Unfortunately this is not possible! Why? Well the system is down but when it is back up the operator will screen shot the transaction and email it as long as they are not overworked and do not forget. I will not go into the vagaries of being a third party shipper and trying to pay for the duty and receive an invoice or the fact that the parcel has to be delivered the driver told the rightful recipient of the parcel is not responsible for the duty and the long ensuing deliberation regarding delivery numbers and phone calls to allow the driver to make the delivery. I will of course not mention the delivery that never arrives and the lack of information given apart from to say that it might turn up in 3 months?
I need to get this off my chest so that I (my friend) can move on. I gaze in wonder at the promo vids for this sophisticated delivery system which is automated beyond our wildest techno dreams but falls miserably short because of a lack of good old customer service integrated into its fabric.
Maybe one day the industry will wake up and see that we live in a Global society and that when someone is asleep, others are awake and having the global infrastructure to accommodate this is not beyond the imaginings of talented people. Although I have used particular examples from Logistics companies they are all the same when it comes to customer service outside of office hours… a failure!
All images from a Google search and references acknowledged