April 21 2021
Blog: Through our customers’ lens - by CCO, Jonathan Goldner
Back in 2019, I made a statement that as company, we have a problem when our customers have a problem, and it is our role to find a solution. Two years have passed, and I still subscribe to that. True, new challenges have appeared since (who would have thought of a global pandemic!), but many of the fundamental problems in our industry remain the same.
The port logistics industry continues to be too little focused on customers. To be better at solving our customers’ problems, we need to look at them from our customers’ point of view – it is as simple as that.
People with a purpose
But as simple as it seems, this can only be achieved through a mindset shift. We all know that culture eats strategy for breakfast. I’m happy that our transformation journey at APM Terminals also involves changing our culture and attitudes, bringing us – step by step – closer to our customers.
I am super proud of our NPS (Net Promoter Score) progress over the past years - moving from -13 in 2017 to +33 this quarter. It’s much more fun and inspiring to work in an environment where we are focused on the customer. After all, who likes to work with unhappy customers?
This gives a real sense of purpose to our people – we help customers and economies. Our people and ports provide the critical interface in the global supply chain – linking our shipping line customers to our terminals, and our terminals to our customers across the supply chain - importers, exporters, truckers, rail providers, logistics providers and data aggregators.
The key to success is also linked to our Way of Working, which empowers our people to recognize, visualize, and solve problems. Our customers will be successful if we can be agile and flexible, handle exceptions, and find root causes.
Delivering and innovating for our customers
It’s all about continuous improvement! The need to understand and solve our customers’ business challenges has never been greater. This means we need to better develop our capabilities to deeply understand our customers problems and proactively meet these changing needs. And to do this more quickly. That’s why we’re investing in our lean Way of Working and adopting Design Thinking approaches across the company, so that everyone is equipped to better understand customer pain-points and empowered to create new value for our customers.
For example, the range of new value-added services implemented in our Gateway terminals in Spain in February, which save customers both time and money and which are simple to order online. Being a global terminal operator also means we can easily scale what we learn that works for customers across our locations. This is part of why we are joining up our customer experiences on the shared apmterminals.com platform, where all our customers can do all their business online with APM Terminals.
I am excited about the opportunities unlocked by digital, especially with how data can help us better connect our terminals and the hinterland and provide our customers with the flexibility and ease which they require. We need to continue to improve customers’ visibility into our terminal operations – so we’re currently developing real-time operations dashboards for our shipping line customers, in addition to the live truck turn times information already available for many terminals on apmterminals.com.
We also need to be more proactive in communicating with our customers, so we created our terminal alerts, which are informing thousands of customers of potential disruptions at terminals, on the channels they choose, whether our website, SMS or email.
Technology brings many tangible benefits, not just for providing more visibility and predictability into customers’ supply chains, but also in reducing paperwork and moving processes like payments online. We’re making new customer-friendly online experiences, like the flexibility to book truck appointments to receive or deliver cargo based on when and how the customer prefers it.
Our API Store allows us to provide customers and ecosystem partners with more data the way their own systems want to receive it. Closer collaboration and connectivity with our shipping line customers is making total port stay shorter and allows us to optimize vessel calls.
Ultimately, the key to success is to look at our business through our customers’ lens, and tie actions into our Way of Working. Only then are we able to see the true picture and continue to improve.