How does a logistics company shift its gears to become more customer-focused? In today’s episode, Scott Allison, the Chief Customer Officer of DHL’s supply chain, shares some strategies and tactics around communicating the brand’s message, telling the customer story, and improving employee and customer experience.
DHL is a global leader in the logistics industry. Though the company operates on a B2B level, Scott understands that the business has a big impact on individuals, and wants his employees to remember that their services help improve lives.
Tell the Customer Story
According to Scott, DHL’s CEO of the supply chain business, John Gilbert, said, “we are going to be the most customer-focused logistics company on the planet,” and that’s why his role as CCO was created (in addition to other customer-focused roles). When Scott started his role, like many other CCOs, he dedicated a lot of time talking to customers and senior leaders within various teams. He shares that he wanted to know what customers and employees thought was going well from the customer perspective.
Upon gathering this information, Scott looked for common threads in the answers. After assessing the responses, he found that he was able to draw together quite a few commonalities from his interviews. During this process, Scott discovered that DHL was doing a lot of great things for customers, but they weren’t communicating this. No one was telling the customer story; the focus was on the functionality of the business. DHL was celebrating the number of airplanes and warehouses it had, but not how their efficiency ultimately affected the end customer. Through social media and other channels, they’re telling more of these stories.
Scott walks me through an example of how DHL services have worked together to improve services to diabetic patients. Through the use of an app, customers can choose all of the items they need for their diabetes management, and DHL carefully gathers all of the supplies to be shipped in one package. They’re working to reduce the number of handoffs for the diabetic patient for a more pleasant and streamlined experience. So to Scott, it’s not just about invoices and packaging, it’s about recognizing that these acts serve the greater good of helping the customer.
Craft Your Brand Message and Be Present on Social
During this conversation, Scott shares that he realized it was important for DHL to hone their messaging both internally and externally. By creating strong messaging that communicates DHL’s value proposition, versus what they actually do from an operational perspective, Scott believes this will help employees better understand what their purpose is.
DHL is continuing to focus on getting their messaging right so they can share relevant content on their social platforms. Scott believes it’s important for DHL to be on social media because it enhances their reputational value. He knows what it’s like to receive skepticism regarding social media and its effect on sales, saying that people come to him expressing that they haven’t seen a sale come from a Twitter post. Despite the naysayers, Scott stresses that it’s important to be present in these places, especially since the competition tends to be there. Don’t underestimate the value of social media and get left behind when it comes to business growth.
Internally, Scott explains that they’re spending more time improving the employee experience. In some DHL centers where they have more space, they’ve created town halls, personal experience corners, and innovation corners. In their Brussels location, they’ve created a logistics customer rooms where employees can take customers, to show off the new projects that DHL is working on. This allows customers to build better relationships with the employees, as they’re able to have conversations around how the work gets done.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“I know that the customer pays my wage every two weeks. So that’s the main thing. I wish everyone would realize that. I don’t understand that, but sometimes I have conversations and I have to think about why we’re doing this.”
“I saw a video online with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, recently that really resonated with me, and Warren Buffett said that the only thing he can’t really buy is time, right. So when I have my mentorship sessions with my mentees and so on, a lot of things are spent around time management, and I don’t mean being on time for a meeting, but what are you doing with your time. Does your boss ask you at the end of the year how many emails you answered? No. He asks you, ‘Hey, you set out to meet some goals this year. Did you achieve those goals?’
And I think it’s really about having time set aside to sit back and think about what those goals are and how to achieve them, and then really having a laser focus on going after them relentlessly.”
About Scott Allison
Scott Allison is a Scottish national who’s been living with his family in the US since 2013. Currently leading the Service Logistics commercial activities globally within DHL Supply Chain, he is passionate about the development of supply chain techniques across the entire supply and value chain. Scott previously held leadership positions for 30 years within the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector and Technology sector.
Leadership from a people development and personal growth perspective is important to Scott, helping others develop themselves and their careers in a large enterprise environment.