- In March 2017, the European Shipping Council (ESC) and Drewry Supply Chain Advisors surveyed hundreds of global shippers and forwarders to rate ocean carriers on 16 service offerings.
- No service offering received an average rating above 3.3 on a scale of 1 (very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied). Service cost, documentation accuracy, and good container quality ranked highest.
- Carriers rated lowest on financial stability, customer service, and booking dependability with all three falling below the midpoint of satisfaction.
The relationship between shippers and carriers is currently fraught with distrust and frustration, but it doesn't have to remain that way.
Though the annual Supply Chain Management Review (SCMR) survey of 3PL CEOs revealed that in 2015, labor disputes had caused delays, re-routing, and marooned shipments, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is working hard to establish greater kinship within the industry. In late 2016, FMC Commissioner Rebecca Dye convened three teams of 34 supply chain experts to advise on recommendations for operational challenges.
Unanimous among the groups was a call for the creation of a detailed national information portal that would share critical data and further supply chain visibility. Collected data could reflect container, chassis and dray truck availability. The private industry is taking the issue to its own hands, too, with various transparency initiatives such as the New York Shipping Exchange or benchmark indices rising to the challenge.
Yet, at least shippers were, on average, not unsatisfied with carriers' service on price transparency (3.0), contract adherence (3.05) and accuracy of booking confirmations or notices (3.1). The services that did not pass the mark reflect a failure on carriers' behalf to deliver on service promises, or provide quality solutions when they cannot.
While carriers seek to steady themselves after years of over-production, falling rates, and even bankruptcy, it is ultimately in both shippers and carriers' interest to rectify their relationship. Accommodation reliability, crisis management, and above all, communication have much room to improve; doing so will allow the industry to heal itself and prosper.