APC Overnight 

APC Overnight claims to operate the largest next day parcel network in the UK, with more than 120 regional depots supported by two central processing hubs. The Essington, Wolverhampton company is a cooperative with shareholding members made up from the courier companies.

APC says that its cooperative approach enables it to set industry standards in customer care.

The judges were impressed that APC presented independent research carried out by the Triangle Consultancy which had investigated customer loyalty among 14 companies. Only three achieved a 50% rating while APC reached 81.7%; 24% higher than the number two on the list and well above the 32.6% average. Respondents also gave APC 4.7% out of five for overall service level, compared to the 4.2% average mean score. When asked if APC delivers their parcels on time 100% of respondents said ‘yes’.

Some judges felt that the company’s entry was too reliant on the Triangle Report but, nonetheless, the independent nature of the research was appreciated.

Other factors that impressed were the company’s insistence on handling all parcels by hand whether large or small and all loaded into cages to minimise damage. The company has an electronic discrepancy reporting system which spots problems at an early stage of delivery.



DPD encourages its 4,500 employees to ‘be amazing every day’ when it comes to customer service. Since winning last year’s MT Customer Care award the Smethwick-based company claims to have won more than £50m of new business from its competitors. New customers include Amazon, Play.com and Comet to add to a roster that includes John Lewis, River Island and Tesco.

The judges were impressed that the company had invested £300k in customer care since last year, which it says increased driver productivity by more than 7% and improved employee engagement. It invested £100k in its call centre to improve call handling during the pre-Christmas peak period. The judges also liked the Predict service which gives customers a one-hour window during which their parcel will arrive. Although not new, the service is yet to be matched by competitors, according to DPD. One judge said there was a "very dynamic approach to genuine customer service".

However, another judge questioned whether spending £150k to photograph 2,000 employees was a sensible use of money in austere times.

The company had employed Twitter and Facebook to get closer to its customers and has launched a dedicated mobile web site.



Parcel carrier Hermes claims to deliver 25% of UK parcels purchased on-line. It employs 1500 staff and 600 agency staff across 22 depots, two hubs and head office in Morley, near Leeds.

One judge admitted to getting "lost in the detail" of the company’s exhaustive entry but admitted there were "lots of good things in the business model". The company recently appointed a head of customer services and worked with two ‘trial’ clients to develop new customer care measures. These included dedicated customer service teams and extended day working. In the past year Hermes has provided ‘bespoke’ customer care for all clients, including a visit to better understand their needs.

The judges said that the evidence was very well presented and liked some of the detail including the company’s engagement with customers during adverse weather conditions. Hermes had emailed its clients during severe snow to alert them to delays and offer a new estimated delivery time.

Overall the judges noted plenty of evidence of delivery systems and how delivery was achieved. Over three years Hermes claims to have cut client enquiries by 40% while increasing volumes by 20% taking deliveries to more than 110 million parcels.

United Biscuits

united biscuits

United Biscuits manufactures biscuits and snacks including McVitie’s; KP and Jacobs. It delivers around 120m cases each year. The company admits that reaching good levels of customer care has meant a long haul from the end of 2006 when "customer relations were poor" and there was little understanding of customers and their objectives.

A "dramatic" overhaul was undertaken and the company’s core values now include, "The consumer is our boss". Last year the company, based at Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, introduced training for NVQs in customer service. Each month retailers’ RDCs are contacted to assess customer satisfaction. January 2012 recorded the highest poll with satisfaction levels reaching 8.7 out of 10. Customers receive quarterly questionnaires surveying how service compares to other suppliers. A rescue service ensures the goods get through if a van breaks down while delivering.

The judges were impressed by the introduction of NVQ training and the customer surveys from which action then flowed. One judge noted that the customer testimonials showed a "massive stride forward" from the company’s admitted poor position of a few years ago. Another said UB had "moved the most and put great structures in place" while one observed that the entry "felt real and honest".