The winners of the Air Cargo Innovation Challenge were announced today. The aim of the contest was to come up with “new and creative ideas about how customer service should look and function in the coming years” in the Air Cargo industry. I wrote an earlier post about it when it first started.
The top three prizes in the contest were trips to Frankfurt to pitch the winning ideas to Lufthansa Cargo execs, and spend some time in a flight simulator. I was pretty excited about the opportunity to get an inside look at just how this logistics-intense industry works on such a huge scale, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I submitted 21 ideas from Tetris-like software that would help optimize the way cargo is loaded into containers, to simpler ideas like an app that helps people select the best container for what they’re trying to move.
At the end of the judging, two of my ideas landed in 4th and 5th place. No trip to Frankfurt for me, though I did win a little stockpile of Lufthansa Miles & More miles (and as you may have read before, Lufthansa’s one of my favorite airlines!).
Since posting this, I was notified that since two of the trips to Frankfurt were won by the same participant, I will be going to Frankfurt after all! I cannot overstate how excited I am, and look forward both to learning a little bit more about Lufthansa’s behind-the-scenes logistics, and the opportunity to take the helm of a cargo plane in their flight simulator!
My 4th and 5th place ideas, as submitted, appear below:
Customer In Sight
In an age where everyone wants to be able to see things with their own eyes, it seems like a natural progression for customer service to move from simple voice calls to video calls.
Why not use videoconferencing apps such as FaceTime to allow agents and customers to communicate while shipments are being prepared or booked? Not only does it add a more personalized touch, but it also helps “show” the agent exactly what the customer is dealing with. It would be especially useful for more specialized cargo services like Live/td, Safe/td, etc.
Rather than describing cargo, a customer could simply point their cameraphone at it, showing the agent any angle or special detail they may need to see to be able to help book the best service. Agents may then be able to offer solutions or considerations the customer had not thought of.
And the one I really thought was one of my best:
“Cargo Connects” Platform
While Lufthansa Cargo provides air service, customers without the resources to get their containers to or from the airport cargo shipping center are instead forced to use an alternate provider to move their goods entirely over land instead, or separately hire an shipper to cover the remaining land distance after the air trip.
What if Lufthansa provided a platform to connect land based local shipping companies to the Lufthansa Air Cargo network? This way if I have goods that need to be delivered 20km from the arrival cargo center, I can book that service with a third-party provider directly through Lufthansa’s app, instead of having to coordinate that transaction separately after its arrival. It streamlines the entire process of moving goods by air and simplifies several transactions into one.
It could be as simple as just incorporating contact information for local land shipping companies in the destination city, or as robust as actually incorporating their rate scales and allowing instant booking for the full journey.
More detail about the winning ideas and the contest itself is available on the Lufthansa Air Cargo Innovation Challenge website.