If a company is to deliver excellent service on a consistent basis, teamwork is invariably the key. In the logistics industry, the leading players achieve success by regarding each member of a project or customer service team as equally important. That philosophy helps to build commitment and a shared vision, and encourages the attitude that anything is possible if everyone pulls together.
"There's no doubt that teamwork is the essential element in our company's success and that is based on effective communication," says Victor Fou, service quality assurance (SQA) manager for FedEx Express (FedEx) Hong Kong.
He believes that bi-weekly service review meetings provide an excellent forum for exchanging ideas and sharing information. These sessions also allow managers and operations specialists to identify opportunities for continuous service improvement.
"This close cooperation ensures quality standards and constant improvement in our work processes," Mr Fou says. "The aim is to do whatever it takes to make sure customers have an outstanding experience when dealing with us."
To make good on that promise, Mr Fou pays special attention to developing strategic plans to improve the company's time-definite express delivery service. As SQA manager, he must also do regular internal assessments and audits to check that all aspects of operations are being run at optimal levels and in compliance with ISO-approved best practices.
FedEx regards employees as the company's key resource. The company believes that if it takes care of its people, they will take care of its customers, and that will take care of the profit.
In principle, there is nothing to limit career advancement. Every employee receives the support needed to reach their full potential and is actively encouraged to take on management responsibilities. Numerous training opportunities are available and are intended to promote a positive approach towards life-long learning. Full-time employees are entitled to receive as much as US$2,500 a year under the tuition reimbursement programme.
Since the company is basically part of a service industry, it is essential for quality professionals to have the skill sets and knowledge to deal with every kind of customer requirement. This means having a thorough understanding of the operational flow, IT systems and methods of data transfer. It is also important to have the ability to analyse exceptions and formulate action plans to correct them.
"It is vital for me to know the details of all the appropriate ISO and best practices standards," says Mr Fou. "This helps me to monitor service performance accurately and identify areas that need to be further improved."
To ensure nothing is overlooked, the company makes a point of gathering customer feedback in various ways. "I pay regular visits to customers together with our sales colleagues to find ways to better serve their individual needs," Mr Fou says. "There is also a monthly review of all customer compliments and complaints. Where problems exist, the company will aim to provide a flexible business solution."
The SQA department is expected to generate innovative ideas for continuous service improvement. When necessary, these will then be field-tested by management or colleagues in frontline positions to identify the benefits, limitations and overall effectiveness.
"We have always had a strong emphasis on implementing technology and automated processes," says Mr Fou. "This helps to minimise mistakes and instances of human error." Tailor-made applications are now used for everything from order placement to updating the exact status of deliveries.
In terms of innovation, FedEx is understandably proud of its track record. The company led the way in areas such as online cargo tracking and online billing. "The introduction of server-based imaging tools has also helped to provide accurate and on-time data transfer to streamline the process of cargo clearance at airports," Mr Fou adds.
Key traits for delivering quality service
- A good team player and good communicator
- Truly motivated to satisfy customer requirements
- Ready to keep learning and be in touch with industry changes
- Willing to go the extra mile to meet exceptional demands
- To be confident enough to suggest innovations
- Skilled in handling confrontations if they arise
- Enthusiastic and able to meet challenges