Digitisation has brought massive benefits to the shipping industry. It’s now possible for charterers to make million-dollar deals in a matter of minutes using email alone. But recent years have also seen exponential growth in the volume of messages that shippers send and receive. Charterers, brokers, operators and port agents can sift through thousands of emails a day, and missing just one could mean lost opportunities, compromised revenue and long-lasting reputational damage.
There are other considerations besides. With complex and constantly changing regulations in the maritime industry, missed communications can mean poor compliance and costly fines. And there’s also lost productivity to consider. Studies have shown that office workers typically spend around two hours each day browsing their inboxes – that’s 230 hours of productive time lost every year, for every worker, and translated to wages can amount to millions of dollars wasted.
Managers may think the solution is to impose changes in the way charterers, brokers and other shipping employees communicate, but there’s a risk of hindering skilled employees from doing their jobs the way they know best. What managers in shipping need are ways of empowering people to do their jobs better, which is why we’re sharing the three golden rules of effective shipping communications.
Monitor performance the right way
In a lot of industries, managers will rely on performance monitoring systems like KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to improve efficiency, but in shipping these approaches take up employees’ valuable time. With pre and post-fixture workers already working at breakneck speed, additional protocols can be a distraction.
The best way to improve performance in shipping is to reduce unnecessary demand on workers, and since so much of their time is spent finding, reading and replying to emails, anything that brings transparency and speed to their communications is a plus. The question is, how can managers tell if their efforts are successful?
The primary metric for success in shipping is profit. If charterers have more time to make deals, businesses will quickly see the wins for expedited workflows in their bottom lines. But another key metric comes around measuring errors. By monitoring the fulfilment of post-fixture service-level agreements (SLAs) as well as the number and nature of mistakes made, managers can measure the effectiveness of communications without unnecessarily interfering in employees’ work.
Collaborate with IT to reduce email volume
We’ve established that giving employees more breathing space is a surefire way to increase productivity. Simply dictating to maritime operators, charterers and brokers how they should communicate may only add more to their workload, and there’s little advantage to making blanket demands of your workforce without knowing precisely where improvements need to be made – a lack of transparency will still impact efficiency.
Due to unclear disconnected communications, missed emails, or siloed information, managers in maritime often get a skewed picture of what’s happening under them.
The solution is to collaborate with your IT team to reduce email volume and create greater transparency. However, it’s true that attempting to do so manually requires significant manpower.
Sedna can be implemented quickly to centralise a company’s email for effective oversight, whilst connecting with core business systems to gain rich insights and automate workflows. This makes it possible to form targeted strategies that don’t try to fix what isn’t broken.
Encouraging uptake of new technologies is a challenge for any business, but managers can also smooth the process by building networks of internal champions among IT staff. These champions can ease the switchover to new products by promoting their benefits, explaining their uses, and lending a hand to anyone with questions or concerns. Employees are more likely to trust product advocates who are also their colleagues, so the earlier you can bring these champions on board, the better.
Two charterers collaborate over email for shipping communications
Don’t change people, change their inboxes
A common assumption about fixture workers like charterers is that they can’t change their ways. But the truth is they change thirty times a day.
When your employees’ most valuable skill is adapting to rapidly changing situations to close deals at speed, you don’t want to tell them how to do their job. You want to empower them to do it better. Communication plays a significant role here. In fact, studies have shown that many employees count ineffective communication as a key reason for wanting to quit their jobs – having the tools to avoid this is business critical.
When charterers, brokers, operators, and port agents have confidence that they don’t need to read hundreds of daily emails, but will still catch the ones that matter, you’re empowering them to adapt and operate as efficiently as possible without compromise. Sedna can reduce email volume by up to 95% and automatically prioritise the messages that really matter to staff. With extra time and less stress, they’ll make faster, more informed deals and optimise vessel operations, resulting in higher profits for your business.