How DSV’s customer feedback programme changed its corporate culture

19th Oct 2018

DSV's head of customer experience explains the impact a customer feedback programme can have on an organisation's corporate culture.                

As a brand, DSV isn’t instantly recognisable, yet it is practically omnipresent.

Based out of Denmark, the haulage specialist – which boasts nearly 50,000 employees – is responsible for freight and delivery at a micro and macro level in over 80 countries across the globe. 

As the company’s director of customer experience, Anders Normann explains, whether it’s simply shipping a nice bottle of wine from a French vineyard to an independent retailer in the UK, or the somewhat more complex exercise of transporting a turbine across several continents to a powerplant in Turkey, chances are DSV might have a hand in the process.   

“It’s everybody who has something that needs to be moved from A to B – from big retailers to sole traders,” says Normann. “We are present on the road, by air and by sea. It’s logistics as well as freight and haulage.”


Several years ago the firm’s leadership team identified a need to become more focused on customer experience in order to improve flagging retention levels.

“Our story is about an organisation that has the ambition to be more customer-centric,” says Normann.

“Most organisations claim this but struggle to back it up. It’s down to the activity that you do and the behaviour of the company and that’s what we’ve been working on for the last four years.

“In reality we’re probably closer to being in year six of our programme, as the first two years of our shift in thinking were about analysing, debating and assessing how customer-centric the company actually was to start with, and then what needed to be put in place and implemented to continuously drive our activity around customer-centricity.”

Our story is about an organisation that has the ambition to be more customer-centric

Strategic rethink

Logistics and haulage is arguably one of the most fragmented industries going, with its top five global leaders accounting for roughly 30% of the total sector.

Under these auspices, many of the leading players – DSV included – have historically relied on acquisition as a business model for growth; customer experience as a route to retention is not always something that’s been given the credence it deserves.    

“It’s that old sales metaphor – if you’re throwing customers into a bucket covered in holes, they’re going to leak out,” Normann adds. “We identified a need to patch up the holes, but to do that you have to find out what is causing them in the first place.”   

Customer feedback is now at the heart of DSV’s change programme and its global method consists of three components that allow the company to draw and act on insight at both the micro and macro level they work:   

One-to-one – addressing all feedback regardless of whether it’s negative or positive. If it’s negative, then it has to be addressed within 48 hours – with stronger emphasis on feedback that detracts. Positive feedback is also dealt with within a timeline of 5 days, even if it’s the simple act of saying thank you to the customer.

Country – teams in each nation they work in receive aggregated feedback through insight reports; not just basic stats but recommendations about what their specific countries should focus on, based on the collation of feedback gleaned. Local managers can pick this up for national specifics– i.e. the Voice of the Customer in their geographical location.

Global – recommendations of geographical divisions are taken to senior leaders at a global level. A conduit from successes at different ‘country’ levels that can be replicated globally, encouraging exec leaders to approve widespread changes.

Dealing with the complexity of something this far-reaching is not for the fainthearted. With the programme already present in 44 of the 80+ countries DSV operates in, Normann and his team are processing somewhere between 11-13,000 feedback responses per year.

The range of surveys they conduct also adds to the complexity of handling so much feedback – at a one-to-one level this starts with relational NPS surveys at numerous touchpoints. The business applies Customer Effort Scores based on how easy or difficult they have been to do business, handing the responses ranked as difficult or nuanced to the process owners to contact customers and resolve within the allotted time periods.

Normann states the company is already able to correlate the success of this contact method with retention and financial returns.   

“We know what the average growth in spend of all customers is; when you have that average number, you can look at detractors/ passive/ promoters in NPS customers. Passive is slight below average growth, detractors are way below. So our aim is to push detractors into passive and passive into promotors, as that’s a clear financial return.  

“This supports NPS methodology and we have used this calculation internally with our leaders to highlight that this isn’t just about ensuring our customers feel warm and fuzzy about our brand, this is fundamental to financial success. The numbers are visible to everyone internally.

“If you measure on the behaviour – we have statistics that show that if we complete follow-up with customers they actually rate us higher next time around. So, if they rate us higher, you get the financial benefits.

“Crucially, our CEO buys into that – everyone in the company receives internal newsletters from him recognising key points revealed through feedback.”

We know what the average growth in spend of all customers is...our aim is to push detractors into passive and passive into promotors, as that’s a clear financial return.  

Cultural shift

DSV’s feedback programme is helping the company towards delivering three major actions for the brand: firstly, producing a predictive model for identifying potential customers that will churn, by correlating with customers that don’t provide any feedback at various touchpoints.

Secondly, helping to identify how vital customer service is to the business and allowed DSV to strengthen its customer service proposition across the globe, providing a uniformity of improved tools and information for customer service employees.

Finally, it’s goal is to continue to improve the information it provides to customers – on some of their biggest bugbears, such as the timings of when goods are being shipped and when they will arrive, with enhanced delivery times now placed in the hands of both customers and customer service teams, for better clarity.

And these actions are proving the catalyst for a cultural shift towards being more customer-focused, as the leadership identified as its mandate six years previous.

“Everyone across the business now understands how the company benefits from taking live feedback from a customer, in real-time, and following-up on it,” says Normann.

“You can be convinced you know your customer better than anybody but when they’ve taken time to fill in a feedback survey with you, you owe the customer to come back and address their responses – even if it’s just to say thanks for the feedback and to acknowledge that their feedback is being taken onboard.

“It’s now embedded in our culture to listen to the customer. The programme highlights how serious we now are as an organisation to implement feedback at a global level. It’s only a few years into the programme, but crucially we’ve built this from the bottom-up, which means you’re involving people at every level in the process; frontline first, taking that into a local level and then globally.”

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