What does the customer actually want?

What does the customer actually want?

By Troels Støvring, CEO of Twill Logistics

I have recently participated in a few logistics/tech conferences, where we spent hours excitingly discussing what the future of Blockchain, Autonomous Vessels and Smart Containers will do for our industry. The sky is the limit — I know.

But let’s make a quick assessment: Is it technology trailing the logistics industry or is it the logistics industry trailing the technology? I am quite certain it is the latter. Therefore, I would like to propose a parallel discussion to what new technology will bring us in the future: What can current technology bring us now?

It is actually not that hard to get some answers to that question. What you do is: ask your customer. Something that, in our industry, sadly, is vastly underutilised and underestimated. From my experience of starting Twill as a start-up for Digital Freight Forwarder, I have learned the power of deep customer involvement and working Agile first hand. The basics of this are:

  • Build no more than the absolute minimum a launch the product to your customers
  • Keep evolving your product in small sprints
  • Always, always ask the customer for feedback, and
  • be ready to pivot

It is quite scary to launch a product to the market knowing that you could make it much better by just spending a few more weeks — or perhaps a couple of months — more on it and make it a bit better. But it is so powerful! Customers will happily use the product — and will happily give you feedback. That feedback is exactly what you need to use the next two weeks incorporating — and then repeat the process over and over again, until you have a great product that is actually built almost by your customers: Guaranteed customer satisfaction (well, almost at least).

My point with this is saying: Our industry is so far behind the technological development that if we ‘just’ use existing technology and work closely with our customers (agile) on how to best use it, we will be able to rethink our industry. Trust me.

It takes guts though. It takes guts to constantly have your customers review your product, finding errors and giving feedback on improvements — and it takes guts for large organisations to invest in new start-ups that can’t really explain what the end product will be or how much money they will need. But in my view — to change an industry like ours — guts are exactly what is needed — coupled with a healthy bit of technology and a few smart people.

Troels Strøvring is Chief Executive Officer of Maersk-owned digital freight forwarder Twill Logistics, which was originally set up to simplify and digitize the shipping process. Troels has been the CEO of Twill Logistics since July 2016. He started his career as a management consultant, before working for two years at Maersk Tanker and three years at Damco as a Project Lead for Global Operations Projects.

By 2025, 15–20% of air freight shipments will be booked directly with the airline according to a recent survey by McKinsey — does this spell the end of the traditional air cargo industry or the beginning of a new exciting chapter?

Troels will participate in the Plenary Session “Digitization — Revolution or Hype?” at TIACA’s 2017 Executive Summit.

Register to TIACA’s 2017 Executive Summit “Future Proofing Air Cargo”

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