Lead story 01/20
As the name suggests, customer centricity does not start with the product or the solution, but with the needs, wishes and expectations of each individual client. That is why it is so important to understand your customers and regularly discuss challenges and goals when the occasion demands. This is the only way that Rhenus can develop integrated solutions that are geared towards its customers’ complete supply chains. “In contrast to a service or an individual solution, this approach enables us to have the customer as a whole in our sights,” says Dr Stephan Peters, a Member of the Rhenus Group Management Board, explaining this approach.
Focusing on clients also means directly relating to the customer each time that there is any contact with the company and making the dialogue process as simple and comfortable as possible. In addition to personal customer contact, dealings with clients often take place electronically – via the Rhenus home page, for example. “We’ve completely revised our home page to offer our customers a contact point for all the local business units and give them a good overall understanding of the complete range of services and products that the Rhenus Group offers to handle their concerns and questions – and all this is possible with just a few clicks so that they directly obtain what they need,” says Verena Schäfers, Head of Marketing & PR at the Rhenus Group.
- Understanding customers and focusing on their needs
- Deriving special solutions for customers as a result
- Broadening your horizon and drawing up the best possible solutions together
- Keeping your eye on the customer’s supply chain and developing new services for the client at an early stage
- The customer is king
- Absolute satisfaction with all the communications, ranging from processing the order to reviewing the outcome
The new digital website
Home pages appear to be simple and intuitive outwardly, but are complex on the inside. The most functional application misses the mark if it expects too much from users, instead of solving problems. That is why the Rhenus Group’s new website has a modern design, faster loading times and a navigation structure that is easy to operate. It has more moving image elements in addition to content that aims to meet specific target groups. The search engine optimisation is also geared to lead management.
Customers are very well connected and expect to be addressed in a manner that is just as direct and straightforward as in their private lives. “The new website meets these requirements and offers customer services that support dialogue,” says Felix Krede, Sales Director International at Rhenus Warehousing Solutions, adding his point of view. “It’s much easier and faster for our customers to get in touch with the right contact partner.”
Greater supply chain transparency
IT requirements are increasing all the time for customers too and they therefore wish to have greater transparency along the supply chain. This is the special area of expertise at Rhenus Supply Chain Solutions. “We see enormous potential for customers if we can make the logistics processes even more cost-effective by having a digital supply chain in real time,” says André Remy, Head of Supply Chain Solutions at Rhenus, revealing his company’s approach.
In addition to tracking orders and consignments, greater supply chain visibility provides enormous opportunities for acting faster, making individual processes more efficient, planning the use of employees to match needs to a greater extent and saving costs. “We’re combining detailed process consulting with the latest methods of analysing data here so that we can then select the suitable modules from our software solution. As a result, we’re able to develop the ideal solution for each of our customers’ individual needs,” he emphasises.
RFID technology undergoing tests
These kinds of solutions are in demand in the air freight sector too, because everything has to function quickly, safely and smoothly there. The Rhenus subsidiary, Cargologic, handles the complete freight logistics for airlines and freight forwarders at airports and introduced an RFID pilot project at Zurich Airport in 2019. Consignments can be identified and localised automatically and without any contact by using the transmitter/receiver systems. “RFID enables a fast and prompt service chain, because the flow of information can be automatically managed, logged and tracked in real time,” says Markus Schürmann, a member of the management team, explaining the process. The pilot project was launched in the imports and perishable goods departments and was then extended to cover exports and the formation of air freight pallets. “We initially tested the hardware and various RFID labels to see whether they were suitable. We then collected data on a small scale and assessed the performance,” Markus Schürmann reports.
The warehouse processes were adapted at the same time, RFID printers and integrated RFID reading devices were introduced and the employees underwent training. After a test phase lasting one month, full operations finally started. “The interplay between the hardware and software worked very smoothly, all the software errors were eliminated and all the processes adapted,” says Markus Schürmann, summarising his experience. “We’ve been able to improve the procedures for our customers, make the throughput times faster and increase our level of service and the information that we can provide.”
Rhenus customers are not only having to cope with digitalisation and technological developments, but also climate protection to an increasing degree. The logistics specialist is responding to this too. Rhenus Transport established what was until then the largest e-truck fleet in Germany in the spring of 2019, for example, and the shipping company, Rhenus-Arkon-Shipinvest, placed an order for its own eco short-sea fleet in the autumn. Rhenus Air & Ocean also launched RHEGREEN, the world’s first programme to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the air freight sector, during the same year.
Customer centricity, however, can only be a success if time is taken to fathom out clients' requirements and innovative solutions are developed. The Rhenus Group has therefore not only set up innovative hubs and launched the “Rhevo” programme to promote its employees’ ideas, but is also focusing on many cooperation arrangements with start-ups and research institutions.
Open to new ideas
Rhenus has recently joined forces with the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) to develop a sensor that makes it possible to measure and transmit information about the filling levels in containers, for example. What are the benefits here? Rhenus can plan the pick-up and disposal times extremely accurately on the basis of the sensor data so that “the business processes can be optimised for the benefit of our customers”, says Dr Stephan Peters. This solution is being further developed into a blockchain product at the moment: the aim is to use blockchain technology to automate the invoicing and payment procedures, regardless of the pick-up signal and the way that the service is handled, based on a smart contract with the customer.
The list of start-ups, with which Rhenus is cooperating, is also long: doks. innovation, MotionMiners, Rytle, E-Dentic or even Wings for Aid. If the issue involves improving the supply chain or customers’ experience, Rhenus is testing possibilities in the market place, which can offer its clients real benefits. If you do not want to lose your customers, you must scrutinise your own procedures, make improvements and continually readjust your focus.