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BU Channel adds Newhaven – Dieppe route to Freight Ferry Alerts App

Digital and BU Channel are adding to the Freight Ferry Alerts App, and we will soon be offering this tool for both Dover and Newhaven – Dieppe routes. Pictured is Seven Sisters departing Newhaven.

 

DFDS is well known for going the extra mile, nautical and otherwise, for its customers. In general operations that takes many forms. One service we are very happy to offer is live service updates for our customers and their drivers with the Freight Ferry Alerts App, which will soon be supported for both the Dover and Newhaven – Dieppe routes.

From 13 May the app will become available for the Newhaven – Dieppe route as part of the ongoing development. Hasan Ünal, Product Owner in Digital, says: “Digital and all business units are working closer on app projects, with good results. For instance, a previous project added QR code-compatible check-in gates for freight drivers in terminals. Our long-term strategy is to create a DFDS app universe where we ensure a smooth, coherent and satisfying journey when engaging with DFDS services. We have established a product team in Digital with exciting projects on the way.”

Cheryl Hawes, Freight Customer Service Manager, Freight Sales, UK & EC, says: “This is great news that following the idea from our Dover route we will now be launching this for our customers on the Newhaven – Dieppe route. BU Channel have been working with Digital and external developers to expand on the success of this app that gives much needed information about real-time traffic situations, along with safety messages and marketing of USPs to our customers and their drivers, without hassle, confusion or delays in information. A special thanks go to Stephanie Hure and Stephanie Goux for supporting the swift implementation. This has been an excellent example of working together and where sharing best practice benefits our freight customers.”

Sean Potter, Ferry Divisional Head, Digital & Systems, adds: “We are always looking for ways to ease and improve the constant and necessary cooperation with our customers. One significant area we are focusing on is how, with a straightforward app, we can communicate very efficiently to ensure that our customers’ daily operations go smoothly on our vessels. I look forward to this type of customer communication being established in the near future across the rest of the Ferry Division network as part of our ongoing strategy with the Digital team towards development opportunities.”

Another welcome addition is Turkish language support on the app. You can read about the digitisation benefits of this app from an earlier article.

Channel customers delayed by thorough customs checks

Calais Seaways was moved from Calais – Dover to Dunkerque – Dover to help out for a period of time

Today, French Channel ports are experiencing major traffic flow problems as French Customs seems to have decided to check travellers coming into France from the UK more thoroughly than usual. At times this is causing longer waiting times and queues, even on the roads leading to the ports.

“We are very sorry for this situation and the effect it has on our customers. In Dunkerque, our large capacity for storing trucks helps us mitigate the consequences, and many customers that would normally use Calais have been seeking Dunkerque for this reason, says Sébastien Douvry, Operations Director. Calais Seaways was moved from Calais – Dover to Dunkerque – Dover to help out for a period of time.

“We understand it is related to a disagreement between Customs and the customs workers’ union. However, we strongly urge them help us maintain flow in the Channel services as it is causing a big problem for our customers. We have a very positive cooperation with the French Customs in the work preparing for Brexit. They are cooperative and open in their efforts to find workable solutions that will mitigate the consequences of Brexit on traffic between the UK and France. And I am confident that we will be able to find solutions that will help us provide a good service to our customers and avoid unnecessary delays if we continue our good cooperation,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Channel.

DFDS Marseille ensures excellent transport solutions across Europe

As you know, we will go great length to find a way to move our customers goods to the desired destination. And sometimes this even leads to new cooperation between our colleagues in DFDS’ network.

DFDS Marseille offered, for the first time, one of our current customers an integrated transport solution from the UK to Tunis which included a crossing from Dover to Dunkerque, railway from Dunkerque to Marseille and another crossing from Marseille to Tunis. All in all, the transit time was 10 days.

Guilhem Ridel, Freight Shipping & Logistics Coordinator, says: “This is the first time the Marseille and Dieppe agencies have worked together to provide a supply chain between Dover-Dunkerque-Marseille-Tunis – but hopefully not the last. “

Jimmy Marolle, Route Director & Head of Marseille Agency, says: “This door-to-door solution offered to our customer is a clear example of the advantage of connecting DFDS’ network through railway connections combined with a custom clearance solution that DFDS took care of. This integrated solution enables our customer Cust’ One to have one contact coordinating all operations which saves both time and cost.”

True cooperation: Shipping and Digital launch ecommerce for Freight in 67 days

On November 1st, we are live with a new offering to our Shipping customers on the Channel. “Spot” customers, who used to show up at the terminal and pay for a freight crossing with cash or a credit card, can now book a simple “No Fuss” freight ticket online in just a couple of clicks.

“We set out to provide the simplest possible product for our spot customers in the fastest possible time,” says Kasper Moos, Vice President & Head of BU Channel, who has been driving the initiative from a Shipping perspective. “Before, customers could buy freight crossings online from resellers and other providers, but not directly from us. Some of these resellers are strategic partners for us, and we are not trying to compete with them, but we are trying to offer an alternative to unauthorized resellers, as well as to provide the kind of service that our customers expect from us in a digital age. I encourage anyone inside DFDS who has an urgent need to book and buy a freight trip across the Channel to get out their credit card and buy a ticket here.”

As of today, customers can buy this one simple product – a one-way ticket in either direction between Dover and Calais or Dunkerque. Sales will be carefully monitored, and other web analytics data collected to evaluate how this performs. Going forward, this data will help the team to decide how to develop the ecommerce offering – with more types of ticket, value added services and/or across more routes.

Sophie-Kim Chapman, Vice President Digital and Marketing told us, “This is exactly the kind of cooperation we want to drive more of going forwards. Rather than Digital and IT teams working on a solution with the Business at somewhat of a distance, we have been working as one cross-functional team, including commercial and operational people from BU Channel, and with a very clear shared vision of speed and simplicity for the first launch.”

Sophie-Kim Chapman and Kasper Moos

The team who delivered this new digital freight experience worked with Lean Start-up and Design Thinking methods, and co-starred Robin Sedgwick and Cheryl Hawes (BU Channel), Anne-Kathrine Kjær Christensen (Product Owner, Digital), Caroline Lehman Nelson (UX Designer, Digital), Allan Houmark (Developer, IT), Kunuk Nykjaer (Developer, IT), Tommy Sørensen (Developer, IT), Jesper Bendtsen Kirkegaard (Tester, IT) plus consultants from Trifork. The team enjoyed support from Wayne Bullen and various other members of the BU Channel team, Legal, Finance, IT Architecture and the DIO for Shipping, Sean Potter.

BU Channel offers a spooktacular Halloween welcome to its guests

Halloween started early in BU Channel this year. Our colleagues in Dover, Dunkerque and Calais started the celebrations on 26 October to provide customers with a spooktacular welcome. Ports, ticket offices and check-in booths were decorated in a scary Halloween theme, and our colleagues were dressed up in fantastic costumes.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “We all had lots of fun, both our valuable customers and the talented team. Our colleagues really pushed the boat out and showcased some fantastic costumes which were very entertaining to our guests. There was lots of laughter on arrival at check-in when a witch or a warlock popped their head out of the booth window to collect passports.”

“We also deployed additional staff in the car lanes trick and treating, and selecting some lucky customers for complimentary upgrades to our Premium Lounge and Priority Loading products. Jack the Pirate was out in the car lanes loading the ship and sporting some Halloween accessories, and our on-board services team were also promoting seasonal goods of spiced pumpkin latte and gingerbread men on board in the Lighthouse café. A big thank you to all our fantastic team members for making such a fabulous effort for our guests.”

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BU Channel welcomes the most senior passenger on board Delft

On Wednesday 15 August our colleagues at BU Channel had the great pleasure of welcoming a special lady on board Delft Seaways. Amy Hawkins from South Wales was born in 1911 and is now the grand age of 107, which makes her the oldest guest ever to travel with DFDS. She was travelling home from Dunkerque with her family.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager for BU Channel, says: “The team met with Amy on board who said she really enjoyed her trip with us and would love to travel with us again. So, to accommodate Amy’s wishes and in celebration of this milestone, we offered Amy and her family a free-of-charge future crossing with Premium Lounge and Priority Loading upgrades. It was really something special to have Amy and her family on board and we are looking forward to seeing them again soon.”

 

The French Budget Minister visits Dunkerque

On 10 July, the French Budget Minister Gérald Darmanin visited the port of Dunkerque with the president of the Hauts-de-France region, Xavier Bertrand, to discuss the customs work in the Brexit context.

He met the main port actors and considered the impact of Brexit on exchanges between the United Kingdom and the European Union, in terms of people and goods. DFDS, as Dover – Dunkerque operator, was invited to join the visit. Jean-Claude Charlo, head of the French organisation for the BU Channel, briefed Gérald Darmanin on the risks of Brexit for the shipping business.

“It was a great opportunity to make our voices heard as operator and to alert the minister about the major consequences for our business. The impact of Brexit and the weight of customs formalities can become an obstacle for port fluidity. We also offered to work together on the future customs model to be set up after Brexit,” says Jean-Claude Charlo.

Dover introduces Customer Experience Associates during high season

Supporting our customers whilst waiting to board the vessel in the loading lanes is absolutely vital and from 16 July to 9 September, the operations team in Dover will introduce the seasonal position of Customer Experience Associate.

They will be responsible for collecting customer satisfaction data along with promoting upsell opportunities. The team will be able to take payment in the lanes via portable chip and pin devices. They will also support our customers with general information, live port and sailing updates via social media and terminal communication channels.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel, says: “It is extremely important that our guests feel supported and cared for after check-in and prior to going onboard. We have a mixture of permanent and seasonal staff who will be deployed into this position over the busy holiday period. Training has already commenced, and the team was provided with a food-tasting session to give a full understanding of our food offering on board. Thanks to Dave Lewis, Category Manager, Food and Beverage, for providing a great session to provide education on the offering for the new team members. They now feel much more confident in upselling. The food was very tasty! The team has also been given an overview of the Calais and Dunkerque terminals to enable them to help customers with questions regarding their return travel, and additional training in other areas will follow too,” says Steve.

“We have been working together with Steph Fox, Social Media Manager from BUGP, to promote our new Customer Experience Associates via social media channels so our guests will be fully aware of the extra support while waiting at the port. If any of our colleagues are travelling with us during the high season, please give Karen, Paul, Steph and Callum a wave,” Steve adds.

Direct Ferries visit DFDS

On Thursday 28 June, several key members of the Direct Ferries commercial and operations teams, including their CEO, Commercial Director and Contact Centre Manager, were given a full tour of our operation at Dover Portland. They also took part in a sailing from Dover to Calais, returning via Dunkerque.

Direct Ferries is one of our largest online travel agents in BUGP, delivering almost 175,000 vehicle legs in 2017, so the visit was indeed an important event.

The guests were joined by several key stakeholders from DFDS from our operations and commercial teams who hosted them on the day. The purpose of the visit was so that they could experience the full customer journey that their customers experience, as well as agreeing on ways we can work together to improve this journey.

A workshop was held on board the ship where several of these areas were discussed in more detail, such as how to improve the quality of booking confirmations and how to provide more accurate information during busy or disrupted departures.

Colin Fawcus, UK National Sales Manager says: “It was great to meet up and discuss how we can improve the journey for our joint customers, as well as letting the Direct Ferries Team travel and experience the customer journey. The whole day really was in the spirit of honesty and transparency and putting our customers first.”

BU Channel introduces new pet travel initiatives

The team at BU Channel just introduced a new range of pet-friendly perks and products on our ferry services from Dover to both Calais and Dunkerque to ensure that beloved furry family members have the best possible journey.

With summer being the peak period for pet travel to the Continent, the teams expect to be giving away 1,000 Furry Pet Travel Kits that include a pop-up water bowl or travel bottle, a bottle of fresh water, tasty treats and a pet-travel checklist for owners to ensure their pet is safe and ready for departure.

The new initiative also includes a dedicated webpage with easy-to-access information on travelling on ferries with pets, a pre-travel text message service and free use of window ventilation guards that will ensure airflow while the pet remains in the vehicle during the journey.

Steve Garner, Customer Experience Manager of BU Channel says: “We are always looking for new initiatives to improve the products and services we offer to enhance the customer experience for our valuable guests, certainly not forgetting our furry pet travellers too. And we could not let this launch go without a celebration, so we brought together our customers, team members and some furry friends to celebrate at the Port of Dover, along with celebrations by our colleagues in Calais and Dunkerque too. There is nothing better than sharing new ideas and services, and seeing our guests’ delight at the same time. So much fun was had, as you can probably see from the images from the festive launch.

“A big thank you goes to Jordan Wing, Assistant Manifest Supervisor for ‘donning’ the dog costume to welcome our guests at the port and all the team members who worked hard in Dover, Dunkerque and Calais to make sure this super event was a great success! Also, thanks to our colleagues in BU Group Passenger for all the great work which has gone into our new dedicated webpage at www.dfds.co.uk/pets,” Steve adds.

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