Meeting customers’ demanding supply chain needs takes empowered employees who can make the right decisions at the right times. Meet Antonio Foli, whose intimate understanding of the cocoa bean is inspiring trust in the world's largest single seller and exporter of premium cocoa from origin.
By Taylor Johnson
The phone rings. A request for a fumigated container for cocoa beans comes through from the Cocoa Marketing Company, one of Safmarine’s biggest customers in Ghana. In that moment, Antonio Foli knows exactly which container is needed and available for that type of cocoa bean. But the process of finding the right container doesn’t stop there, determining the destination is also extremely important.
Foli soon realises that this process is dangerously time consuming and more communication with the customer is necessary.
“The cocoa bean is fragile, it requires care and a deep understanding of its properties. Putting in extra effort in the communication with my customer has been vital to our relationship,” says Foli.
Putting the customers’ needs at the heart of operations is essential for A.P. Moller - Maersk to become a truly customer-centric company. In 2018, the company announced its intentions to combine Maersk Line’s ocean products with the supply chain and value-added services of Damco and to go to market as one sales organisation.
This makes it easier for customers to do business with Maersk, while also providing a wider range of products and services. The new commercial organisation opens a space for employees like Foli to be more empowered to make decisions that matter most to his customers.
Name: Antonio Foli
Position: Equipment Manager
Location: Tema, Ghana
Family: Wife Benedicta, two sons and one daughter
Hobbies: Football, hiking, DJ
“The people closest to the customer are in the best position to make many judgment calls and therefore, more decisions are now being made at the regional and local level where employees know what our customers need best,” says Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer of Maersk.
Enabling customers to grow
Antonio Foli is an Equipment Manager at Safmarine – Maersk’s carrier focused on trade to and from emerging markets in Africa and West Central Asia. He realised that problems with determining the destination of the containers was opening the risk of extra costs for both the customer and Maersk.
Feeling the responsibility to connect the dots of the cocoa beans’ unique supply chain characteristics, Foli acted on the opportunity to optimise the end-to-end process.
“My primary focus is on solving Cocoa Marketing Company’s challenges and needs. I cannot do this without taking the time to deeply understand the product,” Foli continues.
Proactive planning and collaboration with the customer drove Foli to improve processes to enable his customer to grow. Today, Foli continues to go the extra mile to intimately understand the attributes of the cocoa bean and the depth of the customer’s operations.
I see Maersk’s new commercial setup as a great opportunity to help the customer by influencing decision-making processes based on my in-depth insights into the product, the operations and the latest trade developments.
Local insights improve customer experience
Understanding local needs is key to ensuring a smooth customer experience. To create a customer-centric organisation, Maersk is moving decision-making power to local levels and enabling employees like Foli to break down barriers and leverage collaboration.
“Engagement is at the heart of the trust I have built with Cocoa Marketing Company. If the logistics of available containers, cocoa beans and destinations are not closely aligned, I cannot be responsive to the customer’s operations and would lose control over the product,” adds Foli.
In 2018, Maersk improved the schedule reliability of its network, and continuous work to improve customer experience helped the company reach an all-time high customer satisfaction score from Ocean customers.
By taking responsibility for the end-to-end service and controlling a critical asset in the delivery network, Foli embodies how engagement and local understanding represent key drivers in further improving customer satisfaction.
Contributing to business growth
Safmarine Ghana hopes to report record-breaking loadings of the cocoa bean in 2019, Foli feels convinced that his deep customer insights can make a big difference to the customer and the business as he holds a keen interest in how many cocoa beans and containers are being fumigated every week so he can quickly make the right container available.
“I see Maersk’s new commercial setup as a great opportunity to help the customer by influencing decision-making processes based on my in-depth insights into the product, the operations and the latest trade developments,” Foli says.
With his speed, agility and precision, Foli embodies what it means to offer a seamless customer experience for Maersk’s customers. As Maersk races ahead to become the global integrator of container logistics, an empowered frontline will be part of the foundation on which Maersk will continue to grow with customers.
How Maersk’s new commercial setup benefits customers and empowers employees
With a simplified commercial setup from 2019, customers now have an easier way to do business with Maersk, with a single point of entry across ocean products, supply chain management and value-added services.
Employees are now part of one, integrated organisation – from management, sales and marketing to products and customer experience. The commercial team is more decentralised, empowering employees who are closest to the customer to take the right decisions, while also creating new career and development opportunities.