First Choice for our customers
Deutsche Post DHL launched its Group-wide service offensive First Choice at the beginning of 2007. The goal: to create organic growth through strong customer loyalty. The name of the program says it all: Being the first choice of every customer is more, to us, than just token lip service.
Questions and answers about First Choice
First Choice is the worldwide service optimization campaign developed by Deutsche Post DHL to fundamentally change the way its does business. The aim of First Choice is to provide our customers with service excellence that lasts, thereby becoming (or remaining) their first choice among service providers. The thrust of First Choice is to create greater customer focus among employees and within business processes in order to provide customers with absolutely unbeatable service. Our services should make the lives of our customers easier, giving them more time to focus on their core business.
The First Choice makes use of various tools borrowed from the Six Sigma and Lean methodologies. The so-called DMAIC cycle (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) is at the heart of the method employed by First Choice. Using this method, we have been able to improve our service performance significantly in a highly structured and systematic way.
The focus of First Choice is putting customers first. We've developed processes to help us better understand the needs of our customers and we've implemented measures to increase and improve the level of customer focus within our company. Here are some of the most significant benefits for our customers:
- High-quality processes and services geared toward customers' real needs
- Simplified and streamlined services and improved customer interfacing, making communication and cooperation with the customer easier
- A holistic and systematic approach to solving and rectifying service-related problems/shortcomings
- Tangible and quantifiable service improvements with added value for the customer and the customer's business
- An enhanced customer experience that builds trust and strengthens customer loyalty
The goal of First Choice is to become the "first choice" for our customers worldwide. We want to make our customers' lives easier, and in order to do this, Deutsche Post DHL must provide top-notch service in all segments of its business. With First Choice and its tried-and-true method, improvement potential - whether in business processes or customer projects - is identified and subsequent measures are developed and implemented.
The Group's employees are encouraged to become part of the process, receiving the support and tools they need to introduce improvements directly into their own work environments and sharpen their customer focus. This leads to a company, which, together with its services, is in greater alignment with its customers' needs and expectations.
The success of First Choice hinges on the involvement of each and every employee at Deutsche Post DHL. All 480,000 employees must be encouraged to develop and implement improvement measures in their particular lines of work. They bring valuable front-line experience and insight to the table. To support them in the service optimization process, First Choice provides employees with a tried-and-true method for identifying problem areas and developing solutions to right them. This includes specially designed tools and formats.
Each and every employee at Deutsche Post DHL, from the members of the Board of Management to the company's managers and employees, is asked to take an active part in the First Choice program. The company has already trained more than 17,000 managers and employees in the application of the First Choice methodology, and over 100,000 employees have been directly involved in the program.
What drives First Choice forward is the vast experience of its people and their commitment to their work. To harness this potential, Deutsche Post DHL has made a variety of tools and materials available to them for use in their First Choice initiatives.
A typical First Choice initiative is taken through the five key phases of the DMAIC cycle:
- Define: "What is the customer's problem?"
Two things are defined here: the actual problem and the action necessary to meet customer needs and expectations, i.e. exact process optimization objectives are established
- Measure: "What is the extent of the customer's problem in quantifiable terms?"
Data is collected to measure current process capacities and to create a basis for comparison for future analyses and assessment
- Analyze: "What are the causes of the problem?"
The data collected in the Measure phase is analyzed in order to determine the root of the problem
- Improve: "What can we do to improve our service in order to better meet customer expectations?"
After the reasons of the problem are identified, the solutions best suited to meet the needs of the customer are established, tested in pilot projects and eventually integrated into existing business processes.
- Control: "How can we sustain the level of improvement over the long-term?"
This phase is devoted to making sure the implemented improvements take hold and are maintained over the long term and that the customer experience is continually enhanced
While context often determines how individual projects proceed, it can be said that the same basic scheme is applied to all projects. First, the status quo is analyzed and ways to effect improvements are identified. Innovative market research methods are applied in the case of more complex projects. Above all, input from staff and customers are incorporated and analyzed.
Depending on the needs identified in the analytical phases of the process, either small or larger project teams are set up to improve the service quality and customer satisfaction ratings using the First Choice methodology. The results of the projects are then recorded and analyzed to assure the success of First Choice.
The pilot phase was completed at the beginning of 2007. Since then, First Choice has been introduced as a long-term initiative in more than 287 of Deutsche Post DHL's country organizations. By conducting over 170 customer satisfaction surveys, we've been able to gain a clear picture of just what our customers expect of us.
The company has already trained more than 17,000 managers and employees in the application of the First Choice methodology, and over 100,000 employees have been directly involved in the program so far. Over 2,100 projects have been successfully implemented and 2,800 more are currently underway. The results confirm First Choice's role in improving customer satisfaction and increasing the number of loyal customers worldwide. Approximately 1,000 projects are scheduled to launch in the near future.
Deutsche Post DHL is the biggest logistics company in the world. With markets becoming increasingly more competitive, we need to be able to adjust to shifting market demands and the ever-changing needs of our customers. First Choice helps us enhance and hone our efforts in improving the customer experience at Deutsche Post DHL, in motivating our employee to focus even more on the customer and in maintaining business process excellence. First Choice is therefore key to the success of our company.
In these difficult economic times, our customers' needs and requirements are constantly changing. With First Choice, we are making sure that we can respond in step with such changes and adjust the processes as required. This makes us the kind of reliable partner our customers need in times like these.
First Choice is the service excellence initiative from Deutsche Post DHL. The program helps us create and promote services that make life easier for our customers and make it easier to work with us as their service provider and business partner.
First Choice assures that continual improvement, as a business objective, actually happens. It is a core instrument for reaching our goal of becoming the provider of choice for our customers.
First Choice has a direct impact on nearly all aspects of the company - its employees, its business processes and its customers - and therefore contributes to Strategy 2020 is many ways. A few examples:
- The First Choice methodology assists us in optimizing our processes at important points of customer contact, helping us to eliminate errors and inefficiencies, improve our reliability, simplify access and order processes and generate error-free and easy to understand invoices.
- By allowing our employees to actively take part in the First Choice program - through First Choice training courses, First Choice initiatives and process improvement workshops - we are able to utilize the expertise of our employees and mobilize them to become actors in making our customers, their team and our company even more successful.
- Working with a scorecard system, First Choice provides important information regarding the Group's customers, processes, employees, finances and CO2 efficiency.
We first took a look at companies that had already had success with similar initiatives, such as General Electric, Ritz Carlton and IBM. We analyzed the success factors and determined the elements needed to improve satisfaction among Deutsche Post DHL customers: a management team with role-model quality, committed and motivated employees, a systematic and continuous method for process optimization, customized support material and training formats as well as clearly defined areas of focus. This provided us with a foundation for the First Choice program.
First Choice is a systematic approach that allows us to optimize our business processes and services and increase customer satisfaction levels over the long term. The DMAIC optimization cycle that is used in First Choice projects is based on the Six Sigma and Lean methodologies. DMAIC, an acronym for the five steps comprising in the process (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control), is designed to optimize the business processes that impact customers directly by eliminating errors and inefficiencies.
Whereas Six Sigma and other strategic management tools, such as Kaizen or the Toyota Production System, focus primarily on the manufacturing industries, Deutsche Post DHL's First Choice is a standardized approach for continuous process optimization in the area of logistics, making it applicable to the entire service industry. First Choice makes process excellence an all-inclusive endeavor by actively involving every single one of the company's employees.