Visiting Customer Service Center abroad – Part 1
As part of the BillerudKorsnäs trainee program, all trainees are stationed at a customer service center and/or sales office abroad for one month. The reason for this is for all trainees to learn downstream part of the value chain, just as our 2 weeks working shifts at our mills was to teach us about the upstream part.
All trainees were appointed assignments during the visit abroad. The two main ones were to conduct market research for our carrier bags segment, and to capture suggestions for improvement from the customer service centers/sales offices.
George and I, Fredrik, were stationed at our customer service centre in Sant Just Desvern just outside of the Barcelona city centre. Working in the office are six customer service specialists, who take care of incoming customer orders and make sure that our customers receive their goods in the quantity and timing that they ordered it, and four sales managers, who manage the customer relations with both current and potential customers.
From the left: Maria, Ana, Roser, Borja (far back left), Ricard (far back right), Silvia, Pep, Meritxell
Barcelona is a fantastic city with amazing architecture, for example the absolutely mindblowing Sagrada Familia by Gaudí, food, where George and I enjoyed insane amounts of tapas, pintxos and paella, and of course the greatest football team in the world, FC Barcelona! I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life when I managed to get a ticket to the champions league semi-final between FC Barcelona and Bayern München (3-0).
Left: FC Barcelona Vs. Baryern München Right: Inside Sagrada Familia
Apart from completing our assignments and keeping up with our regular work, George and I tried to contribute to the daily work at the Barcelona office as much as we could. I for example developed a model for container freight optimization and a program that collects information from the internet to provide automatized tracking of freight vessels.
We were also given the opportunity to join our sales managers for several customer visits. It was fascinating for someone like me, who has never worked directly with sales, to observe the fantastic customer relations that our sales managers have managed to develop throughout the years, and how important this mutual trust between supplier and customer is. Thank you Núria, José-Louis and Borja for these fantastic experiences, and a special thanks to Ricard for our two day customer tour to Valencia and probably the best paella we will ever enjoy!
George, I and Silivia enjoying one of several paellas in Barcelona (not as good as the paella from Valencia… But still great!)
Except for these customer visits, we were also invited by our customer service specialist Pep to visit one of our terminals located in Perpignan, right on the French side of the border to Spain. The location of this terminal is not a coincidence: It is not only on the border between two countries but also between two different railway gauges. Because of this, trains have to be unloaded at the border of France, where the international railway gauge ends, and then reloaded into new trains that can run on Spanish railways. Fascinating for a supply chain management buff such as myself, thank you Pep for this opportunity!
Pep, I and Ana outside the terminal in Perpignan
This trip was not only a great experience from a professional point of view, but also a fantastic opportunity to experience another culture and to get to know new extraordinary people within the organization. Once again, many thanks to everyone at the Barcelona office for your hospitality!