For years now, Russian cargo airline AirBridgeCargo has become an integral part of many European airports. The airline has twelve online stations, one of them is Schiphol Amsterdam. The customer service team in the Netherlands consists of 16 employees. Cargo Magazine spoke with Irma Gnodde, head of Customer Service in Europe, about their core values. Operation Due to the recent slots restriction in the Netherlands, AirBridgeCargo was compelled to change over to airports in other countries throughout Europe.
Momentarily, AirBridgeCargo operates 15 flights from Amsterdam, more than 30 from Frankfurt and the number of flights ex-Liège is growing since the Belgian airport is almost completely in operation as their European hub. Departments’ structure The customer service department in every European station is structured in the same way, with the same activities. Irma explains: “Of course, every shipment starts with a quotation. The customer service department is taking care of the shipment during the entire process until ‘the nets are placed on the shipment’. From that moment on,the shipment is handed over to our Operations department.” Honesty is key Within AirBridgeCargo, transparency and honesty towards the customer arconsidered as core values. From top to bottom, every employee in every department needs to work and communicate with these values in mind.
Irma: “It is not always good news that we need to bring to our customers regarding their shipment. In cases like that, we think it is very important to be honest about what is happening. Masking irregularities or hiding things from our customers, that is not the way we work. After all, ‘honesty is the best policy’ is a common saying that suits us best.”
In light of their core values, AirBridge Cargo is constantly looking for ways to enhance those values. One of the processes that was subject to research was the claims procedure. In the old days, pre-claims and claims were uploaded in Cargospot and send to Moscow. There, they were handled via email, sending documents, status reports and photos back and forth between airline and customer. One can imagine that this is a labor-intensive procedure for both parties involved. Moreover, errors can easily occur since versions of documents need to be updated every time. If someoneaccidentally forgets to give an updated document a new version number, the whole claims handling process can be disrupted. AirBridgeCargo felt that there was room for improvement.
‘Honesty is the best policy’ is a common saying that suits us best’ Irma: “Since I already knew the benefits of the CargoClaims platform that had been developed in the Netherlands by CargoHub, I introduced them to our global customer service manager in Moscow. Of course, our IT department checked if it was feasible to develop our own system but it became clear that the CargoClaims platform already fulfilled our needs. So why develop our own system when there is an existing state-of-the art platform that works for us? Last year, we signed the contract with CargoHub. We are very satisfied with the platform that supports our customer service process.”
Promoting the useAir cargo is people’s business.
Customers can not be forced to use a certain tool but an airline can try to convince them by pointing out the advantages of the tool or platform. “We developed a leaflet for our customers with information on the CargoClaims platform. In order to stimulate the use of the
platform among our customers, we are considering to make a difference in processing time of the claim. A claim which is filed in the ‘old-fashioned’ way, by sending an email to our department will of course be handled. But we cannot guarantee that it is processed within a certain timeframe. On the other hand, when the customer uses the CargoClaims platform for entering a claim, we are able to make
that promise”, Irma says.
AirBridgeCargo’s focus on honesty and transparency towards the customer has been the trigger to improve the claims handling process. The platform is still evolving, based on the experience of the users. The claims manager in Moscow provides useful input for the system in order to further develop the tool. Main users of the platform were trained but since the system is easy to comprehend, everyone can work with it.
To conclude Irma says: “Customer service isn’t something you learn from a book; it is all about practical experience. In order to provide excellent customer service, you need facilitating tools. The CargoClaims platform supports us in our service.”