Delivering customer satisfaction - how DHL rolled out Freshdesk to meet pandemic demand and beyond

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan November 14, 2021 Audio mode
DHL had a critical challenge to meet during the COVID crisis. A Freshdesk implementation played an important part in addressing this.


During the height of the pandemic, getting critical medical supples to the right place at the right time was more important than ever. That was a challenge that had to be met by the likes of global courier firm DHL. Key to its response was its network of command centers.

As Samriti Talwar, Director of Product Innovation and Development at the firm, puts it:

These command centers are working with what we call the aftermarket supply chain for a whole host of different sectors, like technology, telecoms and medical systems. What this means is that they are responsible for managing and dispatching deliveries for what we call mission-critical stock that is needed for repair and installation in a whole host of products, like laptops, servers, CT scans, and X rays in hospitals. These kind of orders typically need to be delivered within two hours or four hours, or next business day at the latest. Our command centers play a critical role in making sure that these deliveries get to the right person at the right time.

They’re also on the frontline of ensuring that DHL meets customer expectations and commitments, she adds:

They're critical in doing monitoring of our network of stocking locations, to ensure that as demand was going up during the pandemic, we could meet all our customer SLAs. If you put all of these different things together, what that really means for our command centers is that they're dealing with thousands of customer queries that are very time sensitive, that are complex, that could range from a whole host of topics, starting from existing orders to new orders or just something related to the day-to-day operations. And they basically have to get on top of this pretty quickly.

Freshdesk implementation

Pre-COVID crisis, DHL was using what Talwar calls “a very labor intensive management system” that wasn’t delivering the best results:

Under this traditional set-up, we were actually getting a lot of critical feedback from our customers about our processes, about the timeliness of our response. So even before going into the pandemic, we were struggling in some of our key demand centers across the globe.

In the middle of 2019, a decision was taken to implement Freshworks Freshdesk offering, although the onset of the pandemic shortly after led to some debate about whether this should proceed as planned given the need to move to remote working. But it was decided to carry on, recalls Talwar:

In the end, we went ahead with the implementation and I'm very glad that we did do that, because it gave us improved visibility, improved control, improved reporting that really helped us improve our customer response and resolution times. It also gives us a lot of cool digital tools, like gamification modules for our employees, but essentially, we were able to improve customer motivation and engagement, all during a time that has been challenging for all of us.

What DHL has been able to do with Freshdesk is introduce a lot of positivity into what were often challenging discussions with clients, she adds:

We are able to have a very factual, very constructive dialog with customers about facts that underpin our team performance. In our command centers, this has greatly improved customer satisfaction, which is really seen and felt all the way down to the agents within our command centers.

As for the gamification aspect, this has had a positive impact on the firm’s agents. Talwar explains:

Our agents are now essentially demanding to see their performance and their team's performance in real time, something that we would never have been able to do in the traditional set-up. But now that we do have Freshdesk deployed, we have all these great real time dashboards that are showing the performance against the customer SLAs on these big monitors in the command centers.

We use the gamification module itself to run virtual leadership boards, virtual competitions or quests as they're called, and also in general  to keep a culture of ongoing recognition going with our agents, because we're able to give them an opportunity to do things like earn badges that are permanently tied to their profile as they complete their day-to-day tasks. So overall, it's really allowed us to bring a lot of visibility and involvement to operations, meaning that they can control their performance. They can identify improvement opportunities, get recognition for a job well done, and basically it allows them to control and manage the performance on an ongoing basis, which has been game changing for us.

Next steps

Looking ahead, DHL will be taking more advantage of the automation opportunities that are available within Freshdesk to help with resource management, says Talwar:

Demand is going to continue, but it's not a one-to-one factor where we can grow our workforce exponentially to meet that demand. So we want to get a lot more mileage out of our existing set up. That's going to be critical for us as we tap into all the automation and AI capabilities. Now that we've got a good handle on how we’re managing all of our email communication with our customers through Freshdesk, we're also working to see how we can bring some of the omni-channel stuff into play.

As for learnings that other organizations might take from DHL’s experience, Talwar picks out three main points:

Don't treat a Freshdesk implementation as a one-off thing. It's truly a journey for us and it's a journey in which it's going to take time to get benefits. The second thing that we learned is that as we started implementing this across our network of our command centers, if I look back, it's truly taken us about a year, before we were getting the kind of benefits that we wanted. Our agents and our team lead and supervisors became very confident in the solution that they were using and what this solution can do for them.

That confidence is extremely important to develop a sense of ownership in those teams to get us to the final point, which is that Freshdesk is essentially just a solution. How we use it depends on our teams. It's really important that you don't underestimate the change management that needs to go along with it, along with the fact that you really need to change all the processes to a certain extent within a command center so that you get the best out of the solution and you're getting the kind of benefits that you want to deliver, both internally and externally.