Carriers Advise Shippers on ILA Strike Contingencies

Joseph Bonney, Senior Editor | Jan 29, 2013 3:37PM EST

Container ship lines serving East and Gulf Coast ports are urging customers to pick up import containers and return empty boxes before the International Longshoremen’s Association contract expires Feb. 6.

Maersk Line issued an advisory encouraging customers with dry or refrigerated containers on terminals “to take every available opportunity to have those loads picked up before Feb. 6 … Equally, we strongly encourage the expedient return of all empty containers and chassis by Feb. 6.”

Hyundai Merchant Marine issued a similar advisory last week, and warned that if the ILA strikes, export cargo through East Coast ports “will likely idle on the terminal or destination rail facility until the labor disruption ends.”

Major carriers have filed for authority to issue congestion surcharges to offset costs of a work stoppage. Most of the surcharges are about $1,000 per container. Surcharges would not be imposed unless there is a work stoppage.

Officials at several East and Gulf Coast ports report they’re monitoring negotiations between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance and will announce contingency plans if a work stoppage appears likely.

Before the ILA and USMX agreed to a short-term extension last month, several ports kept gates open late to clear as much cargo and equipment as possible from container terminals.

Representatives of the ILA and USMX resumed contract negotiations Tuesday.

From:  The Journal of Commerce 

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Creating Winning Customer Service Experiences That Matter to Customers

By Flavio Martins, Published January 19, 2013

After each customer interaction, the greatest question is, was the customer experience enough to keep that customer doing business in the future?

There’s a vast amount of research and special studies that take place looking into what makes a winning customer service experience. Is a winning customer service experience about marketing? Is it a sales process? Is it just about the product? Is it the customer service people involved? What is it that makes customers choose your business over the competition. What makes your customers continue to use you, instead of choosing your competitor?

If you dive into the information available from the successful customer focused companies, there’s one trend that is common between them all. Even though these organization are not limited to one business sector, not one specific industry, there’s one thing that they all share. No, it’s not really a secret. It’s a basic principle that they all agree is fundamental to delivering winning customer service experiences.

It’s about consistency.

The most effective customer experience is a consistent one

Author Michael Gerber calls this key to delivering a winning customer service experience “orchestration”.

“Orchestration is the glue that holds you fast to your customers’ perceptions”.

Think about it from the customer’s point of view. What happens when you deal with organizations that seem to be completely disconnected internally. Organizations that seem to be unorganized. Organizations that create frustrations when they can’t seem to align the various departments that have access to your data. Organizations that have poor workflows for dealing customer support issues. Think of growing disappointment that customers have to deal with when your organization fails to orchestrate or align and deliver a consistent great experience to your customers.

Your customer experience example

From the first interaction with your company, a customer begins to form the perception of the customer experience. We’ve done a decent job at creating positive first impressions. But what happens after that initial customer interaction? What is the experience after that initial sale is made? Consistency is the key to ensuring that the customer knows that your organization is committed to delivering what they need each and every time.

If we fail to deliver once that initial impression is made, the customer will come away thinking that all we wanted was to “take their money and run”. It’s a common frustration expressed by customers and it’s a reason why customers are reluctant to buy. We’re constantly having to re-invent the sales process and come up with ever more creative psychological tricks to getting customers to buy now, but why? Because customers are afraid of the “buy” button. Customers don’t want to say “yes”, because they’ve had to deal with too many “no”s from businesses when they need something after the sale is made.

Creating customer experience consistency

How do we create consistent winning customer service experiences?

  • Winning customer experiences are built by focusing every action to create the desired customer loyalty result.
  • Winning customer service takes commitment to getting, training, and keeping service focused employees who can make people happy.
  • Winning customers takes businesses that weigh every business decision against the needs of the customer.
  • Winning customers requires consistently delivering the type of experience that customers expect.

Customers may not always be dealing with the same person, they don’t need to. Customers won’t always contact the same department, you don’t need to have just one group working with customers. What customers need is to know that regardless of who they work with, what department they have to interact with, the result for them will be the same. So build your customer service experience processes to win the customer.

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Update on United States Maritime Alliance And International Longshoremen’s Association Labor Negotiations


Thursday, January 17, 2012 Contact: John Arnold
For Immediate Release Director of Public Affairs
Web site: Phone: (202) 606-8100

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H.
Cohen issued the following statement today on the labor negotiations between the United States
Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association:
“The United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association
conducted negotiations during the three day period January 15-17, 2013. In these negotiations
the parties made progress and have agreed that the negotiations will continue under our
“Due to the sensitivity of these negotiations, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, created in 1947, is an independent U.S. government
agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 10 district offices and 67 field offices, the agency provides
mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies and communities.

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Initiative Launched to Speed Cargo Moves at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach

PierPass Inc. announced an initiative to reduce the number of transaction problems when trucks pick up or deliver containers at the marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

These problems, exceptions from normal processes that result in the issuance of "trouble tickets," lead to substantial delays in container movement through the terminals.

About 5% of all transactions at terminals in the United States result in trouble tickets, which on average add about an hour to the "turn time," the amount of time a truck spends at a terminal, according to a 2011 report by the National Cooperative Freight Research Program.

The report found that "exceptions from normal processes [are] a major source of delay and cost. The long 'tails' on the turn time data, in particular, suggest that around 5% of the cases consume much more than the 'normal' time and expense." Most trouble tickets can be prevented through better communications before a truck arrives at the terminal gates, the NCFRP report said.

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