Editor’s Blog: Changing customer perceptions… can Yodel pull it off?

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Changing someone’s perception of you is exceedingly difficult. I’m old enough to remember that people went crazy for Sunny Delight because it was packed with vitamin C. After some awkward headlines customer perceptions moved 180 degrees. Now you struggle to see it on the shelves.

Yodel has always struggled with the same headlines that have besieged other parcel carriers. Do a quick news search for Yodel and you see headlines like “Angry customers complain of missing Christmas parcels…” or “Customers queue for hours at Yodel’s Glasgow base…” You could swap the name for any other carrier as its an easy, obvious and dare I say lazy headline for local newspapers to run, but Yodel have always seemed to bear the brunt of it.

It’s not been any better in the business press. In a previous career and probably close to ten years ago I once proclaimed that the express delivery firm was “haemorrhaging” cash. Not much has changed in that time. It continues to be loss-making (it posted an operating loss of £111.8 million for the year to 30th June 2018 from £81.9m the year before). The perception is that the ship at Yodel needs righting, but after all these years it’s never quite got round to it.

Mike Hancox, chief executive, Yodel

I was lucky enough last week to spend 45 minutes talking to Mike Hancox, the new chief executive at Yodel. He’s got a challenge on his hands that’s for sure.

He told me: “I am very lucky to join the business when it is on the way up. It has been a very good peak for us. And this is also a good opportunity to change people’s perceptions of the brand. It has been a little bit negative in the past, for various reasons.”

Express and parcel carriers of all sizes have delivered the e-commerce revolution in retail. Yes, all the automation and robotics in the warehouse has helped. As has slick sourcing and stocking. But next-day and same-day delivery, in some cases in a 1-hour window, has generated a heightened customer expectation that ordering something from an e-commerce retailer can solve all the problems life throws at you, and it will be there almost instantaneously.

When you think about how delivery companies such as Yodel have changed the lives of consumers it is almost incredulous that someone has the cheek to publish a headline blaming the delivery company for “missing Christmas parcels”. If it was that important to you, why didn’t you take ownership of the purchase yourself?

Yet the parcel carrier is the whipping boy for e-commerce, so changing perceptions among customers that Yodel is a brand that delivers, that it meets your expectations is a major challenge. Yet one that Yodel cannot afford to avoid.

Christopher Walton, Editor, Logistics Manager

Hancox’s retail background is vital in this. His approach is one of measuring customer satisfaction and he is already using it as a key metric in the business. Home delivery logistics is an essential part of retail today, so why not measure its performance in the same way you would do with any other part of your business?

For once, Yodel seem to be ahead of the curve…

Christopher Walton, Editor, Logistics Manager

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