Work with Twill and you work with the best

It’s been a busy 2018 for Twill so far! We have expanded into a number of different countries, celebrated our first anniversary and announced new product features. It certainly feels like there’s never been a better time to work with Twill and part of what we believe makes our service so strong is our brilliant Customer Care team.

Our Customer Care Ninjas (as we like to call them!) are there to work silently in the background in your (the customer’s) interests – making sure your cargo has a smooth journey, and that the service we provide you is equally pain-free. Recently we ran a series of blogs that gave a glimpse into a Day in the Life of our Customer Care teams – you can read part one and part two on our website.

But what exactly is it that keeps our team ticking? We asked our Head of Operations, Barbara Peric, that very question. Here’s what she had to say:

We’ve got the tools

“A hidden part of making shipping simple for our customers is decreasing some of the internal barriers for our employees. At Twill we have a Customer Care Dashboard, which is the backend to what our customers see. Here we get early visibility on shipments so we can act earlier. We can also get an overview of what our colleagues are working on, so that if there are any unexpected absences we can easily take over from one another.

“As well as this, it’s important to stay in close contact with each other, especially since a lot of our teams work across different countries and continents. We use Slack, an online communication tool which helps us to keep each other up to date and even share a few jokes along the way. Having fun and creating energy is a very important Twill principle!”

We’ve got the team

“Tools help, but it’s the team that makes the difference. At Twill we look to hire solution-oriented movers and shakers, who see the potential in our industry and who want to work differently. Part of this is challenging each other on how we can better utilise our talents across the world. If there is a capacity shortage in China, for example, our team members in Indonesia and Vietnam are always here to help!

“As a customer care team, we also have a direct line to our tech team to help on any urgent problems, day or night, regardless of time zone. This effective collaboration across teams helps us address our customers’ needs quickly and without internal red tape.”

We’ve got the attitude

“Customer satisfaction and retention is the name of the game at Twill; customer care and visibility is how we play. It doesn’t get simpler than that!

“We gather feedback directly from our customers by tracking how often they book and giving them a call if they need support with their next booking. But the feedback doesn’t just stay with us. We pass it on to our product team and designers and they figure out how to continuously improve Twill based on this feedback. In this way, your customer input gets spread throughout the entire Twill organization.

“Of course you don’t have to take my word for it! Reach out to us today and speak to one of our Customer Care Ninjas to find out how we can make shipping simple for you!”

Building trust with a digital platform, driven by real people

It is clear to us at Twill that in today’s world of online shopping, online banking, online socializing, and online everything, a digital platform is a requirement in most industries across the world – as people continue to spend more time than ever online.

While it had a reputation for being a slow starter in the digital space, the shipping industry is really starting to embrace digital technologies more and more – which is why we’re here! Other industries from travel to logistics are joining in embracing technology too.

But with all this technology there comes a question of trust – and trust in technology, big or small, is set to be the next battle that companies and society have to face.

A digital platform isn’t enough on its own

At Twill, we are constantly improving and adjusting our online platform to better suit our customers’ needs and expectations – but that’s just the start of our work. With a good digital platform customers can book and track their valuable cargo with ease, no matter the time of day.  But we understand that on its own, a good platform isn’t enough.

In order to build trust, those buttons you click on a website need to be backed up with real life experience; real life people who know what to do to get your cargo delivered. Unlike many of our competitors, at Twill we’re not only a group of developers writing code (although we’re that too!) – we’re also shipping and freight forwarding experts.

We’ve been in the industry for over a century, if you look back at our history as A.P Moller Maersk. Just in our management team alone, we have over 30 years of experience in the shipping and freight forwarding industry…and with an average age of 35, you can say it’s in our DNA. Having this substance of experience, as well as a simple, slick and easy-to-use platform is important to us.

Trust in your provider should be a priority

An online platform is only as trustworthy as the people behind the scenes and customers understand this. At Twill, you’re not dependent on the fancy buttons that you can see on our platform, you’re dependent on Cathy from the USA or Marco from Mexico.

Just like the rest of our customer care team members, they come from the freight forwarding industry and have been dealing with cargo like yours well before online platforms made an appearance in our industry.

In the online world, it’s not always the case that what you see is what you get – but with your cargo, and your business, it’s imperative that you find a freight forwarding partner that you can trust. In Twill, it doesn’t matter what happens in the online world, you can rest assured that behind every URL and every piece of code lies a freight forwarding expert, ready to assist you.

From A to B – just how do we do it?

Getting your cargo from A to B is what we do here at Twill, thanks to our organizational structure. But as they say: it’s often easier said than done!

Getting your valuable goods from one side of the world to the other takes coordination, speed, proactivity and about a hundred smaller steps (coordinating with about as many parties). Luckily, we have a customer care team whose sole job is to ensure all those things happen!

The first step

The process starts with our customers describing their needs to us, and from there we take care of the rest. We even coordinate with your suppliers directly to ensure they are also informed of their roles in ensuring the process is cared for end to end.

When picking a freight forwarder, you’re entrusting a partner with your business. At Twill, we know that, and our organizational structure means that we have the expertise to help you with this journey. Some of the key aspects of the process may be invisible to you, but you can rest assured they are covered in Twill.

Twill plays the coordinating role

One important part of the process is choosing the right vessel for our customers’ needs and taking care of the origin activities for you. Depending on your transit needs, the type of cargo you need, or negotiating the best price, you can trust Twill has got you covered.

This can be tricky, but due to our partnership with Damco – a reputable and global freight forwarder – we know exactly what it takes.

We coordinate with carriers, customs agents, and origin locations to get you what you need.  Whether it’s selecting the right bill of lading or helping ensure you get space on a carrier, we take care of the steps with all parties involved, and you only have to contact one of us!

A streamlined process

If you know the world of freight forwarding well, these steps aren’t new to you and we can help streamline them all within one, easy to use platform. And if you’re unsure of the full process, again you can rest easy knowing we won’t let any critical step be missed.

And once we’ve gotten your cargo from A to B, we’re still not satisfied until we hear from you on your experience. Our favourite step with any booking is hearing directly from you on what went well and if there is more we can do.

Keep following our blog and you’ll see more details about these key process steps over the coming weeks!

-Barbara Peric, Twill Head of Operations

Customer care – it’s not just for the Customer Care team

Customers are funny. I can say that because I spend a lot of my time being a customer. When I book a hotel, when I go to the local grocery store, or when I order my Christmas gifts online. I probably spend the majority of my evenings being a customer in one form or another.

And then there’s my day job: leading the Twill Customer Care team.

Providing proactive and knowledgeable customer care to our customers is pivotal in what we do at Twill. Our vision is that “customers should feel valued and cared for as a result of proactive and positive support culture. Twill’s customer care team should be ‘easy to access’ and well-informed, leading to timely service with minimal effort from the customer.

So how are we working on delivering that here at Twill? Well, there are a couple of key ingredients that are helping us not just service our customers, but also retain them. My team can proudly say that our customer retention statistics have remained extremely high – here are some ways in which we’re learning how to keep it that way.

Spread customer feedback to the entire organization

The Customer Care team is the front line (as they say). They receive feedback from customers constantly, whether that’s an email, a phone call, a rating in a survey, or a subtle question about their shipment. Every interaction is a form of feedback.

But it’s not always the Customer Care team who can act on the feedback, so it can’t just stay with us. In Twill, we spread the news. Every morning, the global organization (operations team, tech team, people team, product team – all of us) huddles to discuss our customers’ mood based on yesterday’s events. We each share our perspective on our customers’ moods. If a shipment got delayed – we assume the customer mood would be yellow. Did we deploy a feature our customer was waiting for? We share the win and assume the customer is feeling green! We don’t need to hear it from our customers to know that a shipment delay is bad, so why not put it out there, discuss it, and ensure the whole Twill team takes part in fixing it?

Sometimes, it’s an operational process we need to tighten up. Other times it can be a product feature that is missing. But in all cases, if it’s a problem for our customer, it’s a problem for Twill and then we all rally together to get it fixed!

Create a structure for end-to-end collaboration

If you’re shipping your cargo from China to the UK, guess what: people in China and the UK need to work together to make it happen! Many traditional freight forwarders have the “origin versus destination” mentality: if I’ve done my part in the origin to get the cargo on the boat, it’s your job at destination to deal with it from there. But that handover is too important to leave it to chance and good vibes.

Thar’s why, at Twill, all parties (China and UK for example) get on the phone together every day to proactively identify potential risks for each shipment. We identify where our extra attention is needed and update each other to stay on top of the full end to end process.

Constant attention on our customers’ silent feedback

Did you book a shipment every week last month, and suddenly nothing this month? Did you book with Twill once and not yet a second time? I bet there’s a reason. And I want to know that reason, so that we can grow and develop the way you need us to.

The entire Twill Customer Care team stays close to our customer trends so that we pick up on the subtle hints you’re sending us. Maybe it’s because Twill can’t (yet) service your geographical needs – in that case we want to know, so that we know where to open offices next. Or maybe you have a seasonal business shipping Christmas trees. Okay, we’ll leave you alone for a bit! Maybe you’re feeling insecure about doing it online. It’s okay, we’re here to guide and support. Our Customer Care team is trained to listen to your needs, even when you’re not talking.

As I said, customers are funny. Sometimes when we don’t say anything at all, we are shouting the loudest. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a freight forwarding partner that gets your mood without you having to say a thing?

-Barbara Peric, Head of Operations

‘Agile’ is our Change Management methodology

November 2, 2017 – Disclaimer: I’m not a scrum master.  I’m not even a very good source if you want to talk ‘agile’. It’s only in the last five months since I’ve been working for Twill, that I have begun to understand what ‘working Agile’ means for me.

What I lack in the agile arena, I make up for in change management.

Change management has been my focus not only professionally but also academically over the last 5 years. Now that I have a chance to combine the agile world with the need for change management, I’m discovering that an agile way of working is actually a great way to do change management.

Let me explain.

Changing the way we work

Agile is all about development and I would argue that development is equal to change, but it has to happen step by step, with user feedback. The idea is to develop our ways of working in short sprints – send ideas and updates out to our users, get their feedback, and then pivot based on that feedback. Not surprisingly, this method of keeping our users close as we all go through an evolution, encourages them to evolve with us, step by step.

In the process of developing Twill, we are in effect asking customers to change the way they handle their freight. We are asking freight forwarding professionals to change their way of working. And we’re asking employees to change their way of servicing their customers. That is a lot of change – but it is change that they inspire and request! And that is the agile way of growing: grow quickly and be ready to adapt when the users show you that their needs have changed.

Translating our users’ needs

This blog post was inspired by a colleague who approached me and told me that Twill had a reputation of being good at change management and she wanted to understand what methodology we were using.

In formulating my answer, I realised that I couldn’t really say that we consciously chose a specific model from my text books. But upon further discussion, I realized that the aspect that she understood as effective change management came as a result of our agile way of working.

When we travel around the world to introduce Twill to our users, it has become known that we don’t promise a finished solution, or a 5-year vision. Even we do not know what the product will look like in few months. It’s all about the translation of user needs, not company ambition. Instead, we honestly explain that we want to build a product that makes shipping simple. And to do that, we need our users’ help to know what to build that adds most value. That’s agile. That’s good change management.

Taking our customers on the journey

In any change management model, we are taught to communicate honestly, listen to people, give them space to voice their concerns, and help them understand what it means to “me”.

In our agile way of working, we can’t over-promise on what the end result will look like, because we need our customers’ help to get there.  We can’t develop a tool unless we listen to our users and understand their pain points. We must understand what our new product means for them, in order to make it better.

Change is not easy, but when people can truly give input to the transformation that is coming their way, it’s at least easier to understand. And when the required change is agile enough to adjust with people’s input, it’s undoubtedly a better change.

-Barbara Peric, Head of Operations