35th Annual Quest for Quality Awards: Scaling to new heights of service

Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have reached the pinnacle of service-excellence over the past year? Our readers have cast their votes, and now it’s time to introduce this year’s winners of the coveted Quest for Quality Awards.

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The editorial staff of Logistics Management (LM) is proud to unveil the results of the “35th Annual Quest for Quality Awards.” This year, our survey results yielded 138 providers of transportation and logistics services that have received the ultimate vote of confidence, posting the highest scores across our lists of critical service criteria.

For more than three decades, LM’s Quest for Quality has been regarded in the transportation and logistics industry as the most important measure of customer satisfaction and performance excellence. To determine the best of the best, qualified LM readers rate carriers, third-party logistics (3PL) service providers, and now North American port operators strictly on the basis of service quality, making it the only survey of its kind in the market.

To determine who wins the vote, LM readers evaluate companies in all modes and service disciplines, choosing the top performers in categories including motor carriers, railroad and intermodal services, ocean carriers, airlines, freight forwarders, third party/contract logistics services, and ports. From January through May of this year, LM and , a division of American Truck Media, surveyed readers who are qualified buyers of logistics and transportation services.

This year our research group received more then 4,500 total responses. In order to be a “winner,” a company had to receive at least 5% of the category vote. The result of this overall effort offers the logistics market a crystal clear look at a broad list of companies that finished above the average — the winners of Quest for Qualitry gold.

Transportation service providers are rated on LM’s five key criteria: On-time Performance, Value, Information Technology, Customer Service, and Equipment & Operations. Due to the nature of services offered by third-party players, a different set of criteria is used to judge this category. Third-party logistics providers are rated on the following attributes: Carrier Selection & Negotiation, Order Fulfillment, Transportation & Distribution, Inventory Management, and Logistics Information Systems.

Again this year we split our third-party logistics providers (3PLs) into two categories in our ballot questionnaires with the help , the leading third-party logistics analyst firm in the market.

Four years ago we re-established our Ports category, using Ease of Doing Business, Value, Ocean Carrier Network, Intermodal Network, and Equipment & Operations as the five key criteria to measure service success. We’re pleased to be delivering the scores of the top North American Ports once again this year—and for many years to come.

Evaluating who reached the top

The evaluation itself is a weighted metric. The scores take into account the importance that readers attach to each attribute. Each year, readers are first asked to rank the attributes in each category on a five-point scale, with a score of 5 representing the highest value and a score of 1 representing the lowest value.

The PRG research team then uses those attribute rankings to create weighted scores in each category. For example, readers have historically placed the single highest value on the On-time Performance attribute—and they’ve done so again in 2018. In fact, the attribute was rated between 4.80 and 4.54 across the various carrier categories. The second highest value again this year was placed on Information Technology.

After readers have ranked these key attributes in order of importance, they grade each provider they currently use on each of the five core Quest for Quality attributes, rating them on a scale of 1 to 3 (1=poor, 2=average, 3=outstanding).

To produce a weighted score, the research team then multiplies the provider’s average scores for each attribute by the attribute’s ranking. Next, the weighted scores are calculated for all five attributes for a given vendor and added together to create an aggregate number.

Companies score a Quest for Quality win when their total scores exceed the average total weighted score in their category. But remember, providers must receive a minimum number of reader responses to qualify for a win—at least 5% of the total base for the category.


Editor's Note's: 2018 Quest for Quality

The editorial staff of Logistics Management would like to thank the readers who took time out of their busy schedules to complete and submit the 2018 Quest for Quality ballots. This year, more than 4,500 readers offered their valuable insight and helped Logistics Management maintain the Quest for Quality as the premier benchmark study of logistics and transportation service excellence for the 35th year. 

Questionnaires for this year’s Quest for Quality Survey were sent out January through May. Sample members were selected for each category and were sent an invitation via e-mail asking for their participation in this year’s survey. The invitation included a URL linked to a dedicated website that contained the questionnaire. Responses were collected and tallied by a third party, independent data collection facility. 


2018 Quest for Quality Winners Categories

NATIONAL / MULTI-REGIONAL LTL | REGIONAL LTL | TRUCKLOAD | RAIL/INTERMODAL | OCEAN CARRIERS | PORTS | 3PL | AIR CARRIERS and FREIGHT FORWARDERS


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