Keeping business running: Breakbulk webinars for customers in Japan

Welcome to our article series in which we shine a spotlight on how different teams across our business are adapting to support your logistics needs during these challenging times.

Heavy Breakbulk Cargo Handling Yokohama

Staying connected matters now more than ever before. That’s why our breakbulk sales team in Japan decided to launch a series of webinars. Shintaro Tsuchiya, senior sales manager for Japan, explains how this proactive approach has been welcomed by customers.

During this pandemic, what has been the biggest challenge for the breakbulk sales team in Japan?

Traditionally, breakbulk sales relies on ‘face time’ with customers. Over the years we’ve built a rapport with our customers through in-person meetings, but as a large portion of Japan has been working from home since early April, maintaining this level of personal communication can pose challenges.

We started to think of new communication channels that would enable us to engage with customers online.

What triggered the team to start the webinar series?

Customers were continuing to call and email us for quotations and rate proposals, but we wanted to provide them with more value and share knowledge that is useful to them in their daily business life. The webinar series offered a platform where customers can be kept informed and have their questions answered.

What is the purpose of the webinars?

The purpose of the webinars is to demonstrate how RoRo can not only meet varied breakbulk transportation needs, but that the support we offer goes beyond pure services and products. We also want customers to feel that we are here for them at this time and providing new ways to engage with them.

Can you talk me through some of the webinar topics?

We’ve covered eight main topics in the webinars including: an overview of our vessel types and cargo-carrying equipment; a comparison of container transportation versus RoRo; and an introduction to the useful customer tools on our website along with general tips for transport documentation.

The 8 webinars were aired in 30-minute sessions every other day to fit customers’ schedules.

What are the benefits for customers taking part in these webinars?

With face-to-face meetings currently off the cards, the webinars give customers a way of staying up to date with our services, while informing them as to how we are geared up to support their breakbulk transportation needs. After each webinar, customers had the opportunity to ask questions and we compiled and shared a Q&A document which we think is a useful resource for them.

What has the response been like from customers?

Customers have been very positive to engage online. Over 16 sessions, we had 1,800 gross viewers. We also gained valuable insight into what our customers want to learn more about. For example, from the results of a questionnaire sent out to all participants, we learnt that many are still unfamiliar with the benefits and capabilities of RoRo and have a keen interest in finding out more.

Nearly 90% of respondents want us to continue running online webinars. In fact, there were so many requests for a re-run of the webinar series, that we ran a second round attended by roughly 200 participants, or 700 gross viewers.

Is the breakbulk sales team in Japan likely to change the way it works going forward?

Looking ahead, we plan to offer a similar webinar series at least a few times a year. Face-to-face meetings are still a great way to build trusted relationships with our customers, but we will also be looking to explore the potential of virtual sales beyond our webinars. We hope to find new ways to streamline the sales process and improve the experience for our customers wherever we can.

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