Understanding the Interfaces: How Ocean Freight Shipping Lines Can Maximize Satisfaction

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Industrial Marketing Management


Physical distribution services are becoming increasingly important as supply chains strive to become more efficient in the logistical flow of goods to industrial customers. Performance of these services, however, takes place during encounters that customers have with various interfacing departments within the firm. These encounters may ultimately determine the level of satisfaction clients have with the service and the concomitant perceived quality. While previous research in this area has focused on service quality assessment, little attention has been given to determining the pattern of interfacing departments that maximize service satisfaction. This study examines a sample of shipping managers in Singapore who evaluated the service dimensions of ocean freight shipping lines (or companies). Using an analytical method called decision tree calculus, this article identifies the combination of interfacing departments that maximize service satisfaction. The results of this approach offer definite guidance to ocean shipping lines in terms of the importance of key interfacing departments in shaping satisfaction and perceived quality. Implications are discussed.


Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 491-504 (September, 2002). DOI: 10.1016/S0019-8501(01)00201-2